They need to rework the branding of this holiday. I mean we all know that there are some cheeses that have mold in them to enhance the flavor. We see them and eat them all the time. But I think they need to come up with a better name for this kind of cheese. Sure, I’ll eat it and enjoy it, but I’d rather keep the fact that I’m eating mold on the down low. I feel like I’m feasting on trash or that I am ten years old again and my Mom is trying to convince me that even though most of the loaf of bread has mold on it, the pieces she used for my sandwich are ok.
According to noted cheesemonger Wikipedia, there are three main categories of cheese in which the presence of mold is an important feature: soft ripened cheeses, washed rind cheeses and blue cheeses. Soft-ripened cheeses begin firm and rather chalky in texture, but are aged from the exterior inwards by exposing them to mold (these would be your Bries and Camemberts). Washed-rind cheeses are soft in character and ripen inwards like soft-ripened cheeses but they are periodically cured in a solution of saltwater brine and/or mold-bearing agents that may include beer, wine, brandy that impart pungent odors and distinctive flavors, and produce a firm, flavorful rind around the cheese (like Limburger and Appenzeller). Blue cheese is made by piercing a ripening block of cheese with skewers in an atmosphere in which mold (specifically penicillium roqueforti and the penicillium glaucoma fungi) is prevalent. The mold grows within the cheese as it ages and it creates distinct blue veins in the cheese, which gives them their name and, often, assertive flavors (like your Roqueforts, Gorgonzolas and Stiltons).
With any kind of food that seems a bit gross, you wonder about the origins are. According to FoodEditorial.com, the story goes that blue cheese was discovered by accident in a cave where ripening cheese had been left inside and was found many days later covered with a greenish blue mold. To the amazement of the villagers, it wasn’t spoiled. Despite its acrid taste, the cheese was appealing to the taste buds. That of course is the big mystery of any unusual food. Who was the actual villager to go “I’ll try it?” Seems like a big step. But I guess when you’re hungry, you make bold choices. Kind of like eating something off a room service tray that is left outside someone else’s hotel room. If you’re hungry enough, it starts to look good.
It was a rainy day today. It rained from the time we woke up until the time we went to bed, so it was a good gray day to get cozy inside and and just chill. I went to Clement’s around noon to do some grocery shopping (word to the wise: don’t go grocery shopping at noon on a rainy Sunday). While I was there, I picked up some crumbled Gorgonzola and a wedge of Blue Cheese as well That was just enough cheese to make it a celebration for two. It was kind of hard to throw a “Moldy Cheese Party” at Lola (again, can we rebrand this day?), but I knew that we would just be looking for something good to munch on while we watched the rain and the football all afternoon, so that’s how I planned to celebrate.
The first thing I made was dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. These were served at a party I went to a few years ago and I was amazed at how tasty they were and how easy they were to make. I’ve made them before for various gatherings or family parties and they are usually a big hit. You just take a date, remove the pit and hollow out the inside, stuff it with the cheese, wrap it up in a piece of prosciutto, sprinkle it with honey and toss them in the oven. They are ready when the prosciutto crisps up and the cheese starts to melt out the date. The date and honey gives it a sweetness, the prosciutto gives it some saltiness and the blue cheese brings it all together. Pretty nice little snack for a football game (and it paired well with microwaved leftover pierogis).
When it came time for dinner, I decided to make a quick salad and sneak in another moldy cheese serving. I started with some arugula and added some fresh cucumbers and tomato. Sprinkled on some crumbled gorgonzola and some dried cranberries. Then I heated up some fresh pear slices on the stove and added them in as well. I topped it all off with some warmed walnuts. We were both craving a good salad so this really hit the spot. It was a good combo of flavors too. I think the key to a good salad is mixing it up so you are not serving the exact same salad every day, so this was a nice little break from our usual.
Finally for dinner, I had done a little search for recipes using moldy cheese. I toyed with the idea about making a gorgonzola sauce, but I couldn’t find the recipe that tickled my fancy (or my vision). I decided to make a recipe I found for Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf. That seemed more appropriate for a dark Sunday filled with football and relaxation. Like any meatloaf, it was pretty easy to put together and the ingredients were all logical to any Buffalo chicken dish. You used ground chicken instead of beef. You added wing sauce and celery. And of course you added blue cheese too (gorgonzola). It cooks in about an hour and after that time, the room is filled with the delightful aroma of wing sauce.
I served it after our salads along with some waffle fries which just seems like a good pairing. It was tasty. The wing sauce is the overwhelming flavor which made sense because you mix the chicken in the sauce then pour some extra on top before cooking. The gorgonzola had a nice little extra flavor too, especially when you hit a chunk of it on one of your bites. The celery gave it a little bit of a crunch when you hit a piece although Lola wasn’t a big fan of that part. I think it’s going to be better when we have it again as leftovers – sometimes meatloaf is just better the next day. Lola liked it but she did say the texture had kind of a Fancy Feast element to it (Lola gives the best feedback). I think ground chicken is hard to make appealing in loaf form. But, and Lola agreed, it was tasty. She also had the genius suggestion of using it to make some loaded waffle fries (top the fries with crumbed pieces of meatloaf and top with cheese). This may happen over the next few days. My girl’s wicked smaht.
Later that night we sang Moldy Cheese carols and decorated our Moldy Cheese tree with glee. Not really. But we did celebrate today. Some days the best celebrations are the ones when you just enjoy where you are. You listen to the rain and watch the trees blowing. You take your time and take the day at your own pace. And you take a few minutes to just taste the good quiet life of relaxation, even if it can be a little moldy.
Next Up: National Angel Food Cake Day