Sunday, August 30, 2009

Plum and Blue Cheese

As soon as I saw that Trig was hosting They Go Really Well Together I made a little promise to myself that I would just have to come up with something.

The whole idea of this event, which was started by Martin from Khymos, is as he states "to explore flavour pairings suggested by the hypothesis that if two foods have one or more key odorants in common it might very well be that go well together and perhaps even compliment each other.

This month the ingredients are plum and blue cheese.

When it came to choosing the cheese, it was simple really - I went for a local favourite, Tarago River Shadows of Blue

shadows of blue© by Haalo


This is a fabulously creamy and rich cheese that is quite soft and with a really pleasant blue bite to the finish.

Finding the plum component was difficult - it's winter and there are no fresh plums about so I've compromised and am using a pre-made product of poached plums in a sugar syrup.

The plum choice has been the major factor in deciding just how I would combine these two ingredients and a sweet item is the natural choice. With that said I have come up with two dishes - one a nod to my Italian side and the other a typically English concoction.


The first dish - Plum and Blue Cheese Pannacotta with Plum Jelly

plum and blue cheese pannacotta© by Haalo

The top layer is a simple reduction of the plum poaching syrup that has been set using leaf gelatine. The pannacotta layer is a mix of pureed poached plums that have been strained for a smoother finish and then added to a traditional pannacotta base which in turn has been spiked with blue cheese.

Plum and Blue Cheese Pannacotta
[Makes 4]

½ cup pureed poached plum*
½ cup cream
1 teaspoon caster sugar
40 grams Shadows of Blue (approx)
1 sheet Titanium grade gelatine
For the Plum Jelly
¾ cup plum syrup
½ sheet Titanium grade gelatine

Note:
While this was enough blue cheese to impart its flavour into the dish naturally the amount needed will vary according to the blue cheese used and your particular taste.

*For the pureed plums
Blend the poached plums until smooth and then strain through a fine sieve to remove any solids or fibrous traces. This strained mix should equal ½ a cup.

Prepare the gelatine:
Place the sheet of gelatine into a bowl of cold water and allow to soften.

Prepare the pannacotta:
Place the cream, sugar and blue cheese into a small saucepan and over a medium heat, stir until the sugar and cheese dissolves. Keep stirring while your bring the mixture to just under boiling point and then remove from heat.

Take the gelatine sheet out of the water and sqeeze to remove any excess water and add to the cream mix. Stir until dissolved and then add the strained pureed plum - stir until well blend and then pour this through a fine sieve for a smooth finish.

Divide the mixture into 4 tall shot glasses, leaving a good 1-2 cm gap from the top. Cover the tops with kitchen paper to soak up any moisture from the hot liquid and store in the fridge to chill and set.

Make the Plum Jelly:

Using the poaching liquid, pour it into a small saucepan and place on a medium heat. Reduce this syrup until you have about ½ a cup left - this should help concententrate those plum flavours. Stir in the leaf gelatine (prepared as above) and strain once it has been dissolved. Let this cool before pouring it over the prepared pannacottas. Return to the fridge to set.

My second dish is a Plum and Blue Cheese Crumble.

Plum and Blue Cheese Crumble© by Haalo

In the bottom of my dish is the rather standard poached plums to which I've also added some of it's poaching liquid. The top of crumble is also fairly standard but I've taken advantage of the soft nature of the blue to rub it into the crumble mix, the same way as you would do with the butter.


Plum and Blue Cheese Crumble
[Serves 1]

Poached Plums, sliced
40 grams plain flour
30 grams butter, softened
30 grams blue cheese
30 grams caster sugar
flaked almonds

I've made this in an individual casserole dish.

Half fill the dish with sliced plums and then drizzle over with enough poaching syrup to half cover the plums.

Place the flour and sugar into a bowl and add in the diced softened butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the mix until it almost resembles breadcrumbs. Crumble over the blue cheese and continue to rub until it's incorporated. Sprinkle over with a good hand full of flaked almonds - mix briefly and then loosely cover the dish with this crumble mixture.

82DSC_7204.jpg


The crumble topping should fill the pot - don't worry as it cooks it will settle down. Bake in a preheated 170°C/320°F oven until golden and the syrup is bubbling.


Having provided the recipes - now the most important part, what did they taste like?

Plum and Blue Cheese Pannacotta - while I was cooking the cream base I did notice that the cheese seemed to really heighten the richness of the cream and when I added the plum puree I then got an accentuated plum flavour. When it cools what I find is that initially you'll have that typical pannacotta taste and feel to begin with but the blue flavourings come through right at the end, just as you think it's finished and you'll need to have another spoonful, bang you'll get the blue on the back palate.

Plum and Blue Cheese Crumble - if I could be guided by the way this dish was inhaled, this was a complete success. The blue isn't a dominating flavour or factor but it adds something special to the crumble - you know there is something different but familiar but until you are told exactly what it is, it stays out of reach. Once told, the lightbulb turns on and it all makes sense.

7 comments:

  1. I love them all! Especially this - Plum and Blue Cheese Pannacotta with Plum Jelly.

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  2. I really like the sound of using the blue cheese in a crumble topping!

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  3. this could be a heaven dessert for strong cheese lovers.. Bookmarked!

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  4. I like the pannacota. Simple recipe but it looks great.

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  5. Oh, yes. Love them both! Pure genius. : )

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  6. love the colour combination. it's just lovely. the plum jelly is my fave! very inventive. nice to know you and your creations :)

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  7. Thanks Penny!

    Thanks Kevin - the blue cheese crumble really worked a treat

    Thanks Dido!

    Thanks Dennis!

    Thanks Lorena!

    Thanks Arfi - just loved your plum cheese too!

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