Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gorgonzola Cheese Cornbread

I made these corn muffins for a friend of mine who loves cheese.

I was inspired by a recipe for blue cheese cornbread, but I elected to use blue's Italian cousin of Gorgonzola.  My friend thanked me and mentioned how when he was still with his ex-girlfriend, he used to go to a cheese shop in Hoboken, located in a pretty bad, un-gentrified section of the city. But cheese was wonderful and they'd buy fresh bread, slather it with butter, and layer the bread with cheese, honey, and fig paste.  The relationship ended more than a year ago, but he still remembered the cheese sandwiches with great fondness. You might lose your longing for a person, but it's hard to lose your longing for cheese

Cheese and bread is one of the oldest and simplest of meals. We think of pizza, cheeseburgers, tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese fries as always being there for us, as somehow natural as grass, but they're relatively recent inventions. Perhaps it's because cheese, bread, figs, and honey is a meal as old as the Roman Empire and those later incarnations are the cousins of those primal, elemental feasts of the ancient world.

I have always been fascinated by old things, including the classics. I took Latin for a year in high school, and a year in college. People say to do so is pointless, but comparing Latin with the study of French and Spanish isn't really fair--it's more like a study of logic, the origins of language, history and culture combined. I was never very good at reading it, but I loved the history.

I also loved how even at the most basic level, in the Cambridge Latin Series, the stories were always sort of exciting. I actually still have the books. In the first pages of the Cambridge, there is a picture of Quintus the 'filius' (son) 'in triclino bibit.'  I also took Spanish, and seeing underage Quintus booze it up in his father's house was way better than Juan and Maria navigating their way through 'el aeropuerto.' And don't even get me started on Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. 

The first story in my Latin book is about how the cook Grumio is looking at a slave girl and ends with the words: 'ancilla Grumionem delectat. Grumio ancillam delectat.' In other words, 'the slave girl pleases Grumio.  Grumio pleases the slave girl.'  This really broke me in for reading Catullus' poetry in college. Then, at the end of the first book, almost the entire Roman family gets incinerated by the eruption of Pompeii. The reader knows this is going to happen from the first pages onward, which makes learning how to conjugate the verbs for the characters somewhat poignant, since you know they are living on borrowed time.

This bread isn't very pretty, unlike Grumio's hot date of a slave girl, but it tastes amazing.  I had to give it away before I ate it all.


 --yields 12 muffins--

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup rye flour (you could use whole wheat, or all-purpose for a more classic cornbread taste, but I like the nuttiness of the rye)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large beaten eggs
6 ounces of lowfat yogurt
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
4 ounces of chopped Gorgonzola cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin tins.
2. Sift cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt together. Mix oil, eggs, and yogurt. Combine wet and dry.  Add rosemary, then carefully fold in Gorgonzola. Don't over-mix after adding cheese--you don't want to pulverize the Gorgonzola.  The cheese should remain chunky.
3. Pour into liners, bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick can be extracted clean.


  1. I've never seen fig paste and Googling the recipe disabuses me of any ideas about making it myself, but I'm going to have to look for some the next time I go to a store that's likely to sell it because your friend's sandwich sounds amazing. In the meantime: Fig Newtons.

  2. @Flurrious--On your suggestions, I checked out some of the fig paste recipes, and I would definitely classify it more as a 'winter project' recipe than something I'd make right now. They probably have it in an Italian specialty section of the store, or any store that carries 'fancy' preserves. The sandwich does sound amazing! I didn't ask him what cheese he used, but I bet Munster or provolone would be great. Your Fig Newton comment makes me think bad thoughts about how one might taste dipped in honey or topped with butter.

    @Blonde Duck--I know! Cheese isn't something I eat everyday, but when I eat it, I want it with everything.