The perfect snack / tapas for strong cheese lovers! A celery filled with a mix of blue cheese and cider topped with a few crunchy apple chips and walnuts for a memorable bite!
Spanish Blue Cheeses
The Snack is inspired by a tapa recipe in my new cookbook about the Northern Atlantic region of Spain (Un viaje por la cocina vasca from Equipo Susaeta). I just came back from a short trip in the area and got myself a great souvenir from the national park of Picos de Europa, Cantabria; a nice strong and beautifully stinky blue cheese! I know, I know… blue cheese isn’t for everyone. Especially this one I would say… it’s so strong that it’s invading the noses of everyone sitting at the table or close by when it’s served… Although you know what they say… the stronger the cheese smells the better! Personally, for a cheese addict like myself (yes it’s a thing) this blue cheese was the bomb! It’s aging in caves that are made out of porous stones that keeps the humidity level high which is the perfect spot to make a perfect blue cheese!
Picón cheese is the lucky one I brought home to experiment with. While travelling I would try as much blue cheese recipes that I could, like the torta cabrales (corn pancake with blue cheese), blue cheese pasta or a kind of schnitzel served with a hot blue cheese sauce on the side! Divine place for blue cheese! I’ve used The Picon Cheese for this particular recipe, but it could be any blue cheese. If you are a beginner or afraid to scare people off with a too strong blue cheese then you could always use a softer one like gorgonzola or Danish blue. As for the powerful blue cheese lovers, go ahead and try to find a Spanish blue cheese called Cabrales or Picón. Those two Spanish blue cheeses are divine, they are mainly made out of cow milk (95%) and the rest is a mix of sheep and goat milk giving it a unique touch. Cow’s milk is twice as less fatty than sheep milk which makes it easier for the penicillin to travel through the cheese and spread into this marble pattern making it full on blue!
The sweet factor
Pairing blue cheese with a sweet element is necessary since it helps balance the sharpness of the cheese. In Asturia, Spain, you’ll often see it paired with whether apple purée, caramelized onion or honey. In order to calm down your palate in between bites you’ll also need a sweet drink. Blue cheese is one of those cheeses that absolutely needs a drink to accompany it! An apple cider, an ice wine or any sweet wine (gewurztraminer, alsace, etc.) goes to perfection with this strong cheese. It’s going to neutralize that sharp/tangy flavor in between bites to make it taste like the first bite all over again. If you omit to sip on a sweet drink you might get an overpowering blue cheese taste after a few bites, which isn’t pleasant.
The snack recipe
Clearly this celery-blue cheese snack is adaptable to any type of blue cheese although I highly recommend the Cabrales or Picón from Spain. Those two being some of the strongest and most delicious blue cheeses I know, however they are aesthetically less appealing because of their blue-grey color so this recipe calls for some colorful extras to make it more appealing to the eye. To add a sweet note and crunchy texture i’ve added a few apple chips and walnuts on top. As for the dip itself, I’ve mixed it with a touch of cream and cider to smooth the cheese up. Then added it to some (low cal) celery sticks which makes a nice fresh base for the snack. The celery could also be replaced by some endives leaves. Serve the snack with a cold cider or ice wine and you’ve got yourself a simple and delightful treat!
Celery Blue Cheese Snacks / Tapas
Makes about 10 tapas-snack
The blue cheese filling
- 200g Blue cheese
- 2 tbsp of cream
- 2 tbsp of apple cider
- Celery stalks cut into 5 cm long pieces (or endive leaves)
- The Blue cheese dip
- 1 Apple (or predone apple chips)
- Start by making the apple chips (skip this step if you have premade apple chips). Clean, cut the heart of the apple, then cut into really fine slices (mandoline) the sweet apple. Add immediately to a baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C (350F) until light brown and crisp.
- In a bowl add the blue cheese of your choice, the cidre and the cream. With the help of a fork mash up the ingredient together
- Fill up the pieces of celery with the blue cheese dip, top with the apple chips and walnuts.
Enjoy with a cold apple cider!