Friday, November 11, 2011

Cherry Glen Monocacy Chipotle Cheese and Lettuce Salad with Apricot Dressing

Well since it's not going to happen for another 100 years, I thought I would feature today's date, 11/11/11 to coincide with my pare/pear/pair posting in which I'm pairing pared pears. The salad (pictured below) combines ingredients that make up a perfectly complementing pairing of pears with Cherry Glen's award-winning Monocacy Chipotle cheese

It's no wonder Cherry Glen's Monocacy Chipotle (like no other soft cheese I've ever tasted) won a Blue Ribbon at the 2010 American Cheese Society Competition! Congratulations Cherry Glen you deserve this Blue Ribbon! In case your not familiar, Cherry Glen's Monocacy line (five variations of soft-ripened cheeses) is similar to Brie but is slightly more tangy and flavorful and has that same similar creaminess for which Brie is so noted. The chipotle version has the addition of chipotle pepper, (you can barely see the spots of burnt orange color in the triangular pieces of cheese pictured below) a smoked and usually dried jalapeno pepper. This cheese roars with flavor!

While Nick was attending a business luncheon the other day, I thought I would fool around with some options for pairing this marvelous tasting cheese. It seemed obvious something sweet was needed to offset the peppery flavor that comes from the chipotle pepper. Apricot logically seemed complementing, so I whisked together a salad dressing made using apricot preserves and moscatel wine vinegar. Moscatel wine vinegar is an aromatic and complex vinegar with rich overtones of stone-fruit nectar, blossoms and honey. It paired beautifully with the remaining dressing ingredients.

I love creating and eating salads and I'm known among family, friends and catering clients for my unusual and fantastic tasting salad combinations. Today a lettuce leaf salad appealed on many levels and I also had a variety of interesting foods that would add texture, some sweet, some savory that would turn out a great salad.  I combined pieces of romaine lettuce leaves with chunks of perfectly ripe pared pears, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries and Cherry Glen's Monocacy Chipotle Cheese. I tossed it with enough dressing to coat the leaves. OMGoodness! Indeed a great pairing! 

Apricot Moscatel Dressing

Helpful to know: Moscatel wine vinegar can be found in upscale grocery stores, gourmet shops or online. Apricot Moscatel Dressing will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature before serving; shake well just prior to using.

1 teaspoon salt
Several grindings fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup moscatel wine vinegar
¼ cup apricot preserves
⅛ cup shallots, minced
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a 2-cup capacity jar with a tight fitting lid, combine salt, pepper, mustard, moscatel wine vinegar apricot preserves and shallots. Shake until ingredients are well blended and salt has dissolved. Add olive oil and shake again to combine ingredients. Store at room temperature until ready to serve; shake well just prior to using. Refrigerate any unused portion. Yield: About 1 cup.
Cherry Glen Monocacy Chipotle Cheese and Lettuce Salad with Apricot Moscatel Dressing