In the far north of Italy, in the Lombardy region, is the province of Milan, one of 110 provinces in the country. This province has a small town, only 6 kilometres from Milan and is home to one of the most famous cheeses in the world, "Gorgonzola" and its residents claim to fame to their famous namesake. However there are a few surrounding towns which have the same claim.
This beautiful blue veined creamy cheese is made from unskimmed cow's milk. Metal rods are inserted to create air channels, which will allow the mould spores to form and germinate, giving it the distinctive blue veining.
After about four months of ageing, the result is the creamy, slightly spicy cheese we buy in the supermarkets. For a firmer cheese the ageing process is likely to be around six months. Still aged in caves, at the ideal temperature of 6-12 degrees centigrade, this allows perfect conditions for maturing. Gorgonzola holds a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) which is a classification given by the European Union to protect regional foods.
Although most Italians enjoy this cheese as a dessert, it's extremely good to cook with. Apart from just crumbling on top of a pizza, or adding to polenta, it can be used for any dish that needs a bite to it.
It's fantastic to use in a fondue, or crumbled over a crisp salad. You can brush it with egg and dip into breadcrumbs then fry it. There are hundreds of recipes on the Internet using Gorgonzola, I love Gorgonzola Potato Gratin, Watercress and Gorgonzola soup, the list is endless.
I made some Gorgonzola and tomato puffs to hand round at Christmas, we ate them warm but they were just as delicious cold! Which means you can make them the day before. And here's the good part, only 3 ingredients for a great canapé, ready made puff pastry, tomatoes and Gorgonzola, takes about 10 minutes, here's the recipe:
Cheese and Tomato Puffs
Makes Approx 20
Prep Time None
Cooking Time 10-15 mins
* 1 Pkt Puff pastry (shop bought)
* 4oz/115g Gorgonzola Cheese
* 7-8 Baby tomatoes cut into 3 slices
* Lay out the pastry on a clean surface
* Use a pastry cutter to cut about 20 squares
* Carefully lay the squares on a baking tray
* Put a teaspoonful of cheese on each square, diagonally; don't go too near the edges
* Lay 2 slices of tomato on top of the cheese
* Bake in a preheated oven 220°C/425°F/Gas mark 7 for 10-15 minutes
* Baking tray
* Square pastry cutter 2"/50mm