Saturday, February 16, 2008
I once asked a lady with an English accent working behind a sandwich counter about an ingredient of one of the sandwiches. I've heard of chutney, I told her, but what can you use it on?

She brightened up and said, "Everything!" I told her that didn't really help me. Could I put it on meats? Absolutely. Is it good on vegetables? Oh yes. I think I might have asked her about ice cream, but I might have assumed the answer.

I thought of this because I've recently mixed up something very versatile. I bought a stick blender that cooks who know what they're doing can use to purée vegetables in a soup or for smooth sauces. I use it for one purpose.

I make a blue cheese dressing with an inch or more of olive oil, a dash or two of balsamic vinegar (sweet and mild), a garlic clove, some pepper, and a couple of chunks of blue cheese in the plastic glass that came with the stick blender and blend to a smooth thick liquid. I then stir in a tablespoonful of both mayo and plain yogurt (adding tanginess). In the refrigerator, the olive oil solidifies and it takes on the consistency of soft butter.

I use this on green salads, but it's also really good on baked potatoes. [I use the microwave and after piercing the potato with a fork a few times to let the steam out, five minutes later I have a steaming hot and thoroughly cooked russet potato.]

But I found another use for this dressing. I get a local ciabatta bread and toast up a few pieces, then slather them with the refrigerated and solidified blue cheese dressing as if I were putting butter on bread. It's good as is, but for a treat I sometimes grate some Parmesan cheese over the toast and top with a little fresh pepper. It's a meal in itself.

In fact, I'll bet it would be good on a lot of things like vegetables maybe even pasta. Of course it wouldn't be good on sweet things like sliced fruit salad because of the garlic. But if I omitted the garlic, maybe it would be good on just about... no, I'm not going to say it.
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