Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blue Cheese with Candied Cayenne Walnuts and Port

If you need an easy and impressive one to take to a holiday gathering, this is for you. I love hors d'oeuvres. They are often my favorite part of a meal. Better yet, just make a meal out of hors d'oeuvres! My friends Rich and Tracey brought this lovely dish to a social a couple of months ago, and it was easily my favorite thing there. I made it for my dinner club last night and all were impressed.

Blue Cheese with Candied Cayenne Walnuts and Port

  • 1 bottle of cheap port
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups walnuts, halves and pieces
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of cayenne, or to taste
  • 12 oz Gorgonzola or other mild creamy blue cheese
  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the port to a gentle boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until it is reduced to about 1/2 cup of syrup.
  2. While the port is reducing, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the walnuts. Sauté for about 5 minutes until the walnuts begin to toast. Sprinkle with sugar and cayenne and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar melts and coats the walnuts.
  3. Spread the walnuts in the center of a serving platter. Top the walnuts with the cheese. Pour the reduced port over the cheese. Serve with baguette slices.
I love this combination of textures and the contrast of sweet, salt and spice in each bite!

Rich’s recipe calls for a Gorgonzola, but Earth Fare didn’t have a big enough chunk of a creamy one so I bought a Bleu d'Auvergne, a mild raw French blue cheese which worked beautifully. I have another 12 ounces that I am saving to make this again for my family at Christmas.

This goes together pretty quickly. It took about 20 minutes to candy the walnuts, and maybe 15 more than that to reduce the port. I had it on fairly low heat because I didn’t want it to over reduce it. Watch it carefully towards the end, since the lower the volume is, the faster it further reduces. I cooled the port a bit, but not all the way, before I poured it over the cheese. It worked fine to put the dish together then cover with foil to transport, but I think you could also have your four components ready and put it together at the last minute, as long as your port had not reduced to too thick a consistency.

Rich recommended serving a Chardonnay alongside. DH and I finished off the dregs – about 5 bites – tonight with a good Australian Cab which I thought worked really well.



Patti said...

O, man!! I just printed this one. Will definitely make it soon!

sam said...

That looks fabulous! I need an occasion to go with it -- or maybe just start a fire and call it good!

We Love said...

This looks outstanding! Thanks for sharing, hope you had a great weekend.

redradish11 said...

that looks incredible!