I generally eat my blue cheeses straight, but when I was contacted about a recipe challenge pairing blue cheese and plums, my first thought was panna cotta. I still dream about a goat cheese panna cotta in rhubarb soup by Vermilion Chef Tony Chittum that I had more than a year and a half ago, so swapping blue cheese for goat seemed simple enough. I wanted to keep the soup simple to avoid competing with the blue cheese flavor, so I went easy on the spices. I used a creamy, sweeter blue — Rogue Creamery’s Oregon Blue or Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen would be ideal — though I’d love to try it again with Roquefort to compare.
Recipe: Chilled Plum Soup with Blue Cheese Panna Cotta
For the Panna Cotta
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2-3 ounces high quality blue cheese (about 1/2 cup, crumbled)
- 1 packet (.25 ounce) powdered gelatin
- 3 tablespoons cold water
Instructions: Lightly oil 4 small cups or ramekins and set aside. Pour the cold water in medium sized mixing bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the water. Set aside while preparing the milk. In a small saucepan, heat milk and sugar over medium low heat, whisking occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and a few bubbles begin to appear. Reduce heat to low and stir in crumbled blue cheese*, whisking briskly until cheese is mostly melted. Some lumps may remain. Strain through mesh sieve into the water/gelatin bowl and whisk briskly until lumps are dissolved. Pour into cups, cover and chill in refrigerator at least two hours.
*Note: it’s very important not to let the milk get too hot, or the cheese will curdle when you add it. And no one hates to see good cheese gone bad more than me.
For the Plum Soup
- 2 pounds (8 average size) red plums, pits removed and diced
- 1 cup Riesling
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cranks freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch salt
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until boiling. Reduce to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, until plums are soft and falling apart. Remove from heat and cool slightly before pureeing with immersion blender. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
To serve: Ladle soup into four small dessert bowls. Run a knife around the cups/ramekins to loosen the panna cotta and drop carefully in the center of each bowl. Enjoy!
I garnished mine with a pinch more black pepper. If your plums are very sweet you might want to add a little lemon juice to the soup; I found that my soup was just slightly tart and a nice balance with the sweet panna cotta. The blue cheese flavor is subtle at first but on the whole I think it was a pretty good pairing.