Getting Personal - April 2013

Rachael Perron, Kowalski's Culinary Director

Of all the many aspects of my job, the one I have always especially loved is teaching people how to cook. If you're one of the many who've visited me either here in my Kowalski's Teaching Kitchen or in another venue around town, you know my approach is very technique-based. While recipes are an important takeaway from any learning experience, I always try to focus my presentation on transferrable kitchen skills – much the way professionals learn. It's also why over the years I've rarely offered "participation" classes. The teacher in me was always a little worried that somehow one of my students would miss out on some important bit of instruction. My goal was and always is to make sure that if you've come to one of my classes, you've left feeling confident that you can successfully practice the skills we learned at home – not just in the specific recipes from the course syllabus, but in tons of similar recipes and applications.

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

Something I think everyone should know how to whip up is homemade salad dressing, either a basic vinaigrette or a creamy option – if not one of each. Accordingly, the recipe I've chosen as my personal selection for this edition of "Getting Personal" is my absolute favorite: Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing. It's funny how preferences for certain foods and flavors run in families. A simple test to determine whether or not someone is related to me is to ask them which is their favorite salad dressing. If their answer is "blue cheese," chances are we're family. Great on a classic wedge (shown here), I also love a simple Bibb lettuce salad. (Blue cheese also tastes great with other sharp, nutty, sweet or salty things like bacon, toasted or candied pecans, pistachios, roasted beets, dried cherries, apples, celery and red onion.)

Great quality blue cheese is essential to this recipe. If your penchant for pungency runs on the intense side, you can choose a really strong cheese; the opposite is true as well. While the list of blue cheeses I don't like would be a lot smaller, I'm sharing a few of my top picks below:

St. Agur Blue (France)
Cashel Blue (Ireland)
Point Reyes Blue (CA)
Northern Lights Blue (MN)
St. Pete's Select (MN)
Roth Käse Blue Affinée Buttermilk Blue (WI)
Big Woods Blue (MN)


You can reach me at, find me on Facebook or follow my tweets. I'm Twittering as @chefRachael.

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