As much as I love cheese, I'm still learning to like the blue stuff. I do enjoy chunky blue cheese dressing, for example, but straight up melted blue cheese on bread is too much for me; therefore, the key for me at this point is dilution. Recently, I watched Chuck from Chuck's Day Off mix blue cheese with cream cheese as a topping for hamburgers. While I think his intention was to adhere the cheese to the bun, I saw it as a great way to introduce more blue cheese into my cooking.
I was curious to try the classic pairing of blue cheese with pear, and I adore making panini for weekend breakfasts; so, I combined the two into one exciting event (to me, anyway.) A panino is best when it is very simple, so I like to stick to a maximum of three elements: in this case, the cheese mixture, the grilled pears, and a bit of baby arugula for a peppery taste.
I was very pleased with the results! There was enough of a distinct blue cheese taste and smell present in my panino for me to appreciate the contrast between its sharp pungency and the sweetness of the grilled pears, but not so much that I found it difficult to eat. What really meant a lot to me was Jeff admitting that he would never in a million years have been interested in this panino on a restaurant menu, but he absolutely loved it and was glad he tried it.
I think the next step in my blue cheese mission will be not only to increase the ratio of blue cheese to cream cheese in the spread, but also to try it in different dishes. For one, I will definitely be trying Chuck's hamburgers. I'm excited, because I feel that there is a whole new world for me to explore in cooking with cheese. Here's to adventures in acquiring tastes!
Grilled Pear and Blue Cheese Breakfast Panini: The Recipe
Amanda's notes: You absolutely do not need a panini press to make panini. Put your assembled panino in a skillet, and cover it with another heavy skillet or pot to flatten it while it grills; then, flip and repeat. You can grill your pears in a skillet as well.
Makes 2 panini
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 heaping tbsp crumbled blue cheese, any kind (I used Danish)
1 pear, halved, seeded, and sliced thinly (I used a bosc pear)
1 tsp olive oil
4 slices dense bread
olive oil for brushing
baby arugula, to garnish
Toss the pear slices in a bowl with olive oil, and grill 2-3 min per side. Meanwhile, fold blue cheese crumbles into cream cheese and spread on two slices of bread. Top each with grilled pear and arugula, and finish with second slice. Brush the top of the sandwich with olive oil, place oiled side down on the grill, then oil the second slice. Press for 2-3 minutes per side, to your liking. Enjoy!