In The Kitchen: Blue Cheese Lover’s Dream Hors D’oeurvres

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These hors d’oeurves are perfect for any lover of blue cheese!

Blue Cheese Lover’s Dream Hors D’oeurvres

Ingredients:

Strawberries with Maytag Blue Cheese
1 pint Strawberries
2-3 oz. Blue cheese, good quality. Maytag or Roquefort. Splurge; you will use very little.
Walnuts, chopped, (optional)
Balsamic Vinegar, reduced until syrup (optional)

Directions:

1. Wash and carefully de-stem strawberries. Note: many people lop off the top of the whole berry, cutting flat across the top to remove the greens. You are throwing away more than you need to. Put the tip of a paring knife in the hole the top stem makes and twist the berry. The final product looks nice and you are not throwing flavor into the trash,
2. Cut the room temperature blue cheese into size of dice. With wet hands, roll into marbles.
3. Slice the berries about 2/3 through the top. Do not cut all the way through; you are making a pocket. With clean hands stuff the cheese between the two halves and push berry halves closed. A little of the cheese should show, but do not over stuff the fruit.
4. Chill; serve on bed of shredded greens to stabilize berries. You can toothpick the berries for ease of handling, but it is not mandatory.
5. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar–or warmed honey– is optional. For a variation, top with or add chopped toasted walnuts. An inexpensive alternative is softened cream cheese and with small amount of blue cheese. This version is enhanced by combining it with chopped toasted walnuts or pecans.

Figs stuffed with (blue) cheese, wrapped in Prosciutto
Pint Fresh Figs

Ingredients:

3-4 oz. Maytag or Roquefort blue cheese, or substitute any personal favorite with assertive flavor. Smoked Gouda, Goat cheese, or Grayson Cheddar work well.
3 oz. thin prosciutto slices
Toothpicks; the bamboo ones on the market are interesting shapes
Balsamic Vinegar, reduced, and warm honey, (optional)

Directions:

1. Rinse and dry whole figs. If large, cut in half; if bite size, cut 2/3 down middle to create a pocket.
2. Cut room temperature cheese and make a thick coin of cheese. If hard cheese is used, cut thick-ish slice about the size of a quarter–or the size of the fig.
3. If figs are halved, lay cheese on cut side; if small enough to stuff, stuff cheese in opening.
4. Cut prosciutto slices into ribbons ½ -1 inch wide and wrap the cheese and figs. Secure with toothpick. You may choose to warm these in a 425 degree preheated oven or not. They are good cold; they are good warm. Warm about 8 minutes or just until prosciutto starts to crisp.
5. (Optional) Drizzle with good quality balsamic vinegar or honey, warmed just slightly to thin it.

6. Note; this same hors d’oeuvre can be finished with partially cooked bacon–cooked just long enough so that it is still pliable, but has given off some of the fat. Lay the bacon on a sheet pan and begin to cook in a 350 oven. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Wrap around cheese stuffed fig, secure with toothpick and return to oven until bacon crisps a bit–about 6 minutes, but before cheese melts too much. Serve warm. Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar or honey, optional
7. A third great fig first course, or appetizer, is made by cutting the top ¼ inch off the top of the fig and then quartering it, but not cutting all the way through to the bottom. Spread the four quadrants, or “petals” apart, and stuff with goat cheese, goat cheese and chopped nuts or cream cheese with capers and bits of crumbled fried bacon. You can put a whole nut in the very top of the filling; hazelnuts work well. Let your imagination go wild. Bake about 5 minutes in 350 degree oven until cheese starts to melt. Drizzle with warm honey or few drops of balsamic vinegar. Serve on mesclun greens dressed with olive oil, about two per salad, but have extras because you might be surprised about how many of your guests want a third.

Susan Delbert joined The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club as Executive Chef after working at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. as Sous Chef for several years. Delbert has worked in several Washington restaurants, including The Oval Room, BeDuCi in Dupont Circle and Gerard’s Place. She started her culinary career as a Front of the House Maitre d’ in Clyde’s of Chevy Chase. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she graduated at the top of her class. She was an invited participant in an Italian regional cooking program sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.

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