A Holiday Season Association

 It was the holiday season and Durham, North Carolina, where I lived as a graduate student, was enduring the after effects of an ice storm. A friend asked me if I might be willing to help him clear his yard of some heavy branches that had fallen down during the storm and I agreed; it wasn’t too much work. Later, he said he’d like to take me out for dinner as a thank you and as a holiday gift.  It was one of my finest dining experiences at the time. What stands out is the dessert: a light creamy blue cheese transformed into a delicate pudding and surrounded by holiday flavors.

Gorgonzola Cremificato

Below, is a method to make a blue cheese pudding.

Milk

Eggs

Blue Cheese: Gorgonzola Cremificato or Fourme D’Ambert

Pear preserve: homemade from seasonal pears, sugars and lemon

Walnuts: toasted

Blend enough cheese into warm milk until the desired flavor of the cheese can be tasted. Strain the mixture and mix with eggs in the proportion of your favorite light custard recipe. Strain again and pour into small buttered ramekins. Place ramekins in an oven safe pan, add warm water up to just above the halfway mark on the ramekin and bake in a 350˚F oven until the custard is just cooked and jiggly. Cool the ramekins to room temperature and then invert them upside down onto a plate. Serve with homemade pear preserve, toasted walnuts and orange zest.

 

It’s been around fifteen years since I ate the dessert, although, I’ve thought about it and visualized it a few times, if not for too long but for a moment or so. About a week ago, just as I’ve done the previous two years, I asked the cheese person at the store if he had the creamy blue cheese from Italy. The man rarely smiled but this time he did almost as if acknowledging a connection over this cheese that comes into the store once a year during the holiday season. He went into his store-room, brought out a big wheel of cheese, and as he answered questions from other customers eager to shop for their holiday meals, he used a spoon to scoop out creamy gobs to pack for me and then asked me to hold on so he could give me a sample to taste. I smiled, said “no, thank you”, exchanged holiday wishes, caught a glimpse of people smiling as they waited and went about my way. I started to think about the story of the cheese dessert from Durham more often than I have in the past.

I look forward to reading your thoughts...

  1. Beautiful, Bala. The pudding looks wintery, with soft variations of white, and like a winter sky with delicate hints of pink in the pear, but has almost a warmth to it! Adding the orange zest adds a very special warmth, like the flickers of a candle in a window. It looks beautiful. Nice to hear your memory of how you first experienced this dessert, and revisiting it years later – such things are touchstones in our lives, to be cherished. Happy New Year to you, and thank you.

    • Jeff,

      I’ve always smiled at how you’ve described the sky and the clouds; that you would see it in a way that made me want to look at it again marvels me. Thank you for the analogy and for sharing it. Happy New Year!

  2. What a perfectly baked desert work of a fine artisan you have maintained perfect colour, balance of other elements. It looks mouth watering. I took a long look at the photograph and could imagine the flavours. Distinct flavour of the cheese made delicate with element of milk and egg. The gentle flavour of the preserved pear giving it a delicate sweet flavour and the slight tanginess of the orange zest and the crisp toasted walnut giving it a bite. Wow what a heavenly feeling…….

  3. look divine and I can smell the essence just reading your blog. Great writing and beautiful pictures. I will try to cook this dessert if possible sometime this winter.

    • Mrs. Roy,

      Yes, indeed, I know how much your family loves cheese. I look forward to hearing what the family thinks of this dessert.