In uncertain times—when spring just doesn’t seem to stick; when our government is a dysfunctional, fourth-rate reality competition; when innocent-looking lettuce can literally kill you—there’s at least one thing we can rely on: cheese, glorious cheese. Cheese has no season; cheese knows no politics; cheese has no murder in its heart. (Unless you live in France.) Cheese is kind and comforting, in brightest day or darkest night, whether it’s a supporting character on your plate or the main event. Cheese, for lack of a better word, is good.
And so, after a longer absence than I’d intended, I welcome you back to this silly little cooking project with an exceedingly simple but essential recipe: blue cheese dressing, an alchemic mixture that transforms humble carrot and celery spears into crudités and tames the hottest of Buffalo wings.
But for my money, there’s no better place for blue cheese dressing than drizzled over an iceberg wedge, one that’s then topped with crispy bacon and a sprinkling of chives. These four ingredients combine for an appetizer that’s both charmingly folksy—this has to be the most nutritionally negligible salad known to man—and somehow fancy. Then again, I probably think that only because iceberg wedges remind me of Ruth’s Chris, which is where my family always went for celebratory dinners when I was a kid. (My dad would get the wedge, the table would get seven kinds of potatoes because nobody could agree on just one or two, and I’d spend much of the meal giggling over the wine list, because it offered a type of sherry called “dry sack.” Real Norman Rockwell stuff.)
Anyhow, you can’t make an iceberg wedge without the delicious glue that ties it all together—an exceedingly simple process, though it’s a little tricky to get the ratio of each ingredient just right.
Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese [I used Roquefort, because, as previously established, I am fancy]
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons half and half
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons salad oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Blend cheese with half and half until creamy. [Like, in a blender, or so I assumed Nonnie meant.] Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Store, covered, in refrigerator.
The verdict: Nonnie’s is zingier than the typical gloppy blue cheese dressing, and thinner too, probably because it ‘s got a good amount of vinegar. That’s a good thing. Still, I wanted a little more acid, so I ended up adding a bit of lemon juice—and a garlic clove, and more cheese, which I mixed in with a fork rather than blending it to give the dressing some extra texture. Next time, I think I’d also use sour cream or buttermilk rather than half and half and oil, since both would lend the dressing a little more flavor—and would prevent it from being so thin.
That dressing will probably be better than this one. But this one was still pretty good, especially nestled into the crags of a crunchy, tasteless, freshly un-shrinkwrapped nutritional desert. Kosher? No. Satisfying? You bet your dry sack it is.