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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blue Cheese Walnut Spread






I like to have a cheese spread around when we entertain. They're generally easy to whip up but look like more work than they are. That makes guests feel special (the way guests should feel). I most recently served these at a church game night at our house (OK, it was a month ago, but "I'm a little behind," as late co-worker Bill Bierman used to quip.)

The first recipe, for a blue cheese spread (on right in photo), is from Better Homes and Gardens' 2006 holiday Appetizers publication. It's very tasty, even when you tone down the pungent blue cheese with neufchatel (my variation). I served it with crackers, but I know it would be great with the fruit the original recipe suggests. The second recipe, also very nice, is an herbed goat cheese spread that is very flexible as to what herbs you use. I just headed for my trusty indoor rosemary "bush," the basil on the patio and my perennials. Not sure where I got that recipe, since it's an old computer printout.


BLUE CHEESE WALNUT SPREAD

8 oz. blue cheese
8 oz. neufchatel/light cream cheese (optional, but nice to add for those not totally enamored of blue cheese)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (or light margarine)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped

Let cheese and butter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Cut or crumble cheese into small pieces, Slice butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Place cheeses and butter into food processor. Cover and process until almost smooth, scraping downside of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Stir in walnuts.
Transfer to small serving bowls. If desired, sprinkle with additional walnuts. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for one hour before serving. To soften, stir well. Serve with crackers, pretzel chips, apples, pears and/or flatbread.

Makes about 3 cups. Can be halved.
NOTE: Since this post I have made it with toasted pecans and added a teaspoon or so of bourbon.... really nice.


GOAT CHEESE WITH MILLES (really only 7) HERBES


10 1/2 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tsp. finely minced fresh marjoram (I used rosemary)
2 tsp. finely minced fresh tarragon (I used sage)
2 tsp. finely minced fresh Italian parsley
2 tsp. finely minced fresh thyme
2 tsp. finely minced fresh dill
2 tsp. finely minced fresh basil
1 tsp. finely minced fresh chives (didn't have any)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Low-fat milk for thinning

In medium bowl, combine cheese, herbs and cayenne. Stir until well-blended (or use electric mixer). Add milk to thin to desired consistency. (It will thicken up a bit when chilled.)

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or more to blend flavors. Bring to room temperature before serving with crackers.

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