Blue cheese and an iceberg wedge. It's all about that soul-satisfying cold crunch, the bold, creamy blue, almost profound in its simplicity. The dish would be at home among the roster of Dana's Weekend Meditations about how food can make you stop and think. But topped with my mother's superlative blue cheese dressing, it's a creation that's decidedly cheesey, and most definitely worthy of a spot in this week's Cheesemonger.
Iceberg may not be the most glamourous of lettuce choices, but its straight-forward, no-fuss flavor profile makes it a great foil for other ingredients. And you never really have to worry about it wilting.
The 'berg isn't as nutritionally vapid as you might think, and some people believe that you should actually start eating more of it. Sure, it will never has as much value as a dark, leafy green, but there's some folate, vitamin C, potassium and iron that lives in its leaves. And calorically, it's just about the greatest diet food.
Enter blue cheese. I used Colston Bassett Stilton, a savory-sweet, super-classic gem. The best Stilton around, in my opinion. Crumble it atop your wedge, but also use it in the dressing. You'll get two blue textural incarnations that way-- the crumbles of the cheese and the smooth paste of the dressing.
There's nothing quite like a bad blue cheese dressing. Ones that are too creamy, cloying, and mayonnaise-y or that use bad blue cheese can result in something granular, astringent, and unbalanced, a far cry from what you'll get from the recipe below. My mother's dressing gets all of its creaminess from the cheese itself. No mayo, egg yolks or creme fraiche. It's brightened with lemon juice and a bit of zest, sherry vinegar, and lots of black pepper.
My Mother's Blue Cheese Dressing
3 ounces blue cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Zest from 1/4 of a lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk blue cheese, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, and zest in a small bowl. Add olive oil in a steady stream and whisk to emulsify. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes just about enough for a head of iceberg.
And it's great with walnuts, too!
Nora Singley is an avid lover of cheese, and for some time she was a Cheesemonger and the Director of the Cheese Course at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City. She is currently an assistant chef on The Martha Stewart Show.
(Images: Nora Singley