Showing posts with label Danish Blue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Danish Blue. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Head is Not Dead! My Iceberg Conversion and an Italian Blue Cheese Dressing by Cleo Coyle

First a tasty shout-out to our new Crime Writing Cooks! Lucy Burdette and Peg Cochran, welcome! 

We will be seeing their first posts very soon. In the meantime, three cheers to Lucy who is launching a brand new series today with her book An Appetite for Murder. Huzzah! ~ Cleo 

Now for my regularly 
scheduled blog post... 

The Head is Not Dead! 

For years I wouldn't touch iceberg. Why? Why this prejudice against a harmless little head of greens? Because where I grew up, nobody ever heard of arugula or radicchio. (Not in the 1970's, anyway.) 

Cleo Coyle, Iceberg
Convert, is author of
The Coffeehouse
At home, my Italian father grew green and red leaf lettuce in the summer months, but during the winter, we ate one kind of lettuce, the only kind found in local markets and on restaurant menus: iceberg. Sure, the dressings would change, but the dulling sameness of the salad set me off that particular variety for years. Until lately... 

Under the heading Everything Old is New Again (especially in a  New Year), I give you a classic "chop house" salad: a wedge of iceberg lettuce generously drizzled with a fresh, creamy blue cheese dressing. 

Yes, I know...iceberg offers less nutrition than other varieties, but in the winter, when I'm feeling particularly dehydrated, I find an iceberg wedge to be just the ticket. It's stupidly simple to prep, of course: cut the head into quarters. It's also hydrating, refreshing, satisfying, and stimulating. Yes, stimulating... 

"Wakey, wakey!" 
CRUNCH keeps you up!

According to foodie research, cold foods that crunch in your mouth (like apples, carrots, and iceberg lettuce) keep the mind alert. So, on top of hydration, iceberg lettuce is an alarm clock for that sluggish winter brain. 

Crunch with joy! 
~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle’s Creamy 
Italian Blue Cheese Dressing 

To download this recipe in a free PDF that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Gorgonzola is my favorite blue for this recipe (it's Italian, after all), but you can use Roquefort, Stilton, Danish, or your favorite blue. Or we can ask our blog's cheese expert, Avery Aames, for advice on her favorite blue cheese. :)

As for the other ingredients, I find the scallions bring a fresh flavor to the dressing, and the lemon juice offers the kind of bright zip that usually comes from vinegar. As for the anchovy (another Italian heritage addition), have no fear. The single anchovy will not make the dressing taste fishy. Instead, it will enrich the dressing with a delicious note of umami. To learn more about umami, one of the basic notes of flavor beyond sweet, salty, bitter, and sour, click here

Makes 1 cup 


4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 Tablespoon finely chopped scallions
6 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon sour cream*
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt 
1 anchovy, mashed (optional but I always add it!)

*Note for thinner dressing, stir in about 1 tablespoon of milk or buttermilk or add a bit more sour cream.

Directions: In a large bowl mix the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. You can leave the dressing thick or thin it out (as noted) by adding a bit more sour cream or about one tablespoon of whole milk or buttermilk (fresh buttermilk or light buttermilk is truly the best for flavor, IMO).

Left thick, this dressing can be tossed with leafy greens or used as a delicious dipping sauce for raw veggies or hot chicken wings. Made thinner, you can pour it over a wedge of iceberg, and...

Eat with joy
in 2012!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Holiday Brussels Sprouts with Stilton, Bacon, and Figs

This blog post was named a 
"Foodbuzz Top 9" for Sunday, December 6. Thank you, FoodBuzz! 

~ Cleo Coyle

“What does Christmas
taste like?”

When I wrote about the "flavors of the Season" in Holiday Grind, I tried to come up with an array of evocative tastes that my amateur sleuth might want to feature on her coffeehouse’s holiday menu. 
Nutmeg, cinnamon, rum, and peppermint were among the many flavors Clare Cosi considers. Of course, they're only a fraction of the tastes that we look forward to eating or drinking at this time of year—whether they're attached to our family traditions, our ethnic backgrounds, or the little discoveries that we make when we dine at brand new tables far and wide.

Today I'd like to share with you a more savory holiday taste, one that comes with the yearly availability of English Stilton at my favorite cheese monger here in New York City.
Stilton is traditionally eaten at Christmastime, and I’ve enjoyed it for many years now, pairing pungent chunks of it with fresh figs, dried fruits, or sweet slices of ripe pear.

I still remember the second time I tried Stilton. It was served to me in a Pear and Stilton Salad at Bryant Park Grill.

(The first time I tried it was at a formal dinner at Oxford University, where I happily concluded that port and Stilton were my new best friends.)
BTW: Bryant Park Grill is a great restaurant to visit if you are planning a holiday trip to NYC. Click here or on the photo to see a slideshow at New York magazine, which called it one of the best-situated and most attractive dining rooms in the city. This lovely, airy restaurant is located just behind the Main Branch of New York’s Public Library, a memorable landmark that I also used as a featured setting in Holiday GrindAs far as today's recipe, the Grill's Pear and Stilton salad was what gave me my first clue that a blue-cheese-and-fruit pairing would work well as a base for other dishes—like this one...
Although English Stilton is traditionally eaten at Christmastime, any blue cheese will work nicely in this recipe: Danish blue (aka Danablu), Italian Gorgonzola, or French Roquefort. If you’re not a fan of dried figs, try substituting dried cranberries, which is an equally festive holiday flavor. I hope you like my recipe! Eat with joy and...Happy Holidays!
Click here or on the photo of the Stilton crock to virtually visit my favoite cheese shop in New York City: Murray's Cheese. The shop is located in the heart of Greenwich Village, where my Coffeehouse Mysteries are set.
Cleo Coyle’s Holiday Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese, Bacon & Dried Figs

To get this recipe in a takeaway format, just click here and you can download it as a PDF document.


3 slices thick bacon
(or 4 slices thin)1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 10-oz package of whole Brussels sprouts
(about 18-20 sprouts)10 dried figs, roughly chopped (I use mission figs. You can also substitute 3/4 cup dried cranberries.)Crumbled blue cheese (Stilton is perfect for the holiday season!) 

(1) Prepare sprouts and figs: Wash and dry sprouts and slice each in half. Chop dried figs. Set aside. (If you aren’t a big fan of figs, try 3/4 cup dried cranberries.)

(2) Brown bacon pieces: Cut bacon slices into small pieces. In large skillet, fry bacon pieces until browned but not crisp. NOTE: As soon as you move to the next step in this recipe, the bacon will stop browning, so make sure your bacon displays some nice caramelized color before you move to step three and toss in your onions.

(3) Add chopped onions: Throw in the chopped onions and sauté until lightly caramelized. Remember: color equals flavor! If you move to the next step before the onions get a bit of color on them, they will not taste as sweet and the dish will not be as tasty. As with so many things in life, patience is a virtue, especially when sautéing onions! 

(4) Toss in sprouts and figs: With the bacon browned and the onions sweetly caramelized, you are ready to throw your sliced sprouts and chopped figs into the pan. Fold these in well, until they are absolutely glistening with the rich, delicious flavor of rendered bacon fat! 

(5) Add water, cover, and simmer: Here is the trickiest step. Add about 1-1/4 cups of water. This amount may vary depending on the weather and your geographic altitude. That’s why you need to watch this process and adjust it as needed. Cover and simmer the mixture on medium-high heat for about 8 to 10 minutes. After about 8 minutes, lift the lid and stir. Bite into one of the sprouts to see how far it is from properly cooked through. You want a nice “al dente” texture and not mush. If the sprout is too hard, replace the lid and keep going, checking every few minutes.

Also check to see if the water is evaporating too slowly or quickly. If too slowly, remove the lid and turn up the heat. If too quickly, add a little more water so the mixture does not burn. While you do not want this dish to be swimming in liquid at the end of the cooking process, neither do you want it to scorch. The trick here is getting the water to evaporate at the proper rate so that the sprouts are perfectly cooked through and still browned a bit in the pan, giving you that beautiful little caramelized rim that you see in my photos. (Yes, color = flavor. But black = burned!)

(6) Finish: To serve, spoon onto serving plates and crumble your favorite blue cheese on top, whether it’s a Danish blue, an Italian Gorgonzola, or a French Roquefort. For a special treat at this time of year, try English Stilton, which you can also serve as an appetizer with sweet slices of pear, or as a final course with a lovely glass of port before coffee, tea, or espresso.

Till next time,
~ Cleo Coyle
author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

by Cleo Coyle
A Coffeehouse Mystery

Now in paperback and...
a National Bestseller

To find out more about the books in my Coffeehouse Mystery series or enter my weekly Free Coffee Drawing, click this link to my virtual home at Coffeehouse

Recipe text and photos are copyright (c) 2009 by Alice Alfonsi who writes
The Coffeehouse Mysteries as Cleo Coyle with her husband, Marc Cerasini