I particularly like blue cheese in salads with pears and walnuts. The crisp sweetness of the pears is a perfect foil to the salty richness of the cheese. A salad with arugula, pears, blue cheese, and walnuts lightly dressed with a vinaigrette is a perfect winter salad.
The holiday season is one of potlucks and cocktail parties for many. As my wife and I both teach--at different schools in different districts--the last days before winter breaks are often hectic with competing parties. One annual party that we look forward to is a wine tasting that raises funds for local ESL teachers. With school districts dismantling adult education programs (a bill passed several years ago allows school districts to continue to receive funding for adult education classes even though the districts no longer offer classes, siphoning the funds for K-12 classes) these are lean times for ESL instructors. The annual wine tasting is an enjoyable event that also helps out a few people.
To make these, fill pre-baked tartlet shells with several teaspoons of softened blue cheese mixed with cream or cream cheese. Top with honeyed walnuts and bake at 350º for eight to ten minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Bacon, pears, caramelized onions, or membrillo may be placed in the shells before adding the blue cheese mixture.