Tag: stilton

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart from my cookbook and a picnic in Valletta

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

The sky was refreshingly bright and October’s sun was still hot, it was a glorious Saturday morning when we met our friends at my Maltese mama’s house in Msida. The air was filled with the usual chatting and laughing before we hopped into our cars to drive up to Valletta. We brought along the obligatory guitar and our picnic baskets packed with sandwiches, fruits, and a buttery pear and stilton tart sprinkled with rosemary – a popular recipe from my Eat In My Kitchen book. And off we went to Malta’s capital.

We had planned this day trip weeks in advance: to have a picnic with our friends in Valletta, high up on the bastions opposite The Three Cities, to park Michelangelo’s beautiful Volkswagen beetle in the shade of one of the old olive trees, and set up a little table right next to this blue beauty on four wheels. It was a luscious brunch in the most stunning surroundings and to bake a savoury tart was the best choice for this occasion. You can prepare it in advance, it’s delicious even when it’s cold, and it fits perfectly to a sip of chilled sparkling wine. The topping is minimal, but the combination of baked pear, melted Stilton, and roasted rosemary is so good that it became one of my favourite recipes this year. The creation almost didn’t make it into my book. I had a different tart in mind, but I couldn’t find a certain vegetable on the day of the shoot and I decided that I could also just fill the pastry with fruit, cheese, and herbs. It was a wise choice that I don’t regret.

The choice of our setting was as spectacular as our nibbles. If you ever visit Valletta, you have to go to the St. Barbara Bastion and enjoy the breathtaking view overlooking the Grand Harbour and The Three Cities, Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea. Then walk down to the Valletta Waterfront and take one of the little ferries to Cospicua. It only takes a few minutes and it allows you to enjoy two of the most stunning places in Malta, on land and from the sea: the golden beauty Valletta and the three fortified cities.

Thank you Matt, Michelle, Jessica, Michelangelo, Luke, and Jamie for making this day so special!

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

From the Eat In My Kitchen book.

Serves 4 to 8

For the pastry

2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (130 g) unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg

For the topping

2 large, firm pears, cut into thin wedges
3 ounces (85 g) aromatic blue cheese, such as Stilton, Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert or Gorgonzola, crumbled
3 medium sprigs fresh rosemary, needles only
3 tablespoons olive oil
Flaky sea salt
A few black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle

For the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and use a knife to cut it into the flour until there are just small pieces left. Quickly rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until combined. Add the egg and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until crumbly. Form the dough into a thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and freeze for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

On a table or countertop, place the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll out into a disc, large enough to line the bottom and sides of a 12-inch (30 cm) quiche dish. Fit the dough into the quiche dish, pushing it into the dish, especially along the edges. Let the dough hang over the rim a little or cut it off with a knife. Use a fork to prick the dough all over. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden. If the dough bubbles up, push it down with a fork. (If you blind bake the pastry under parchment paper and dried legumes, remove the paper and legumes after 15 minutes and bake uncovered for a few more minutes until golden.)

Arrange the pear wedges in overlapping circles on top of the warm, pre-baked pastry, sprinkle with the cheese and most of the rosemary, drizzle with the olive oil, and season to taste with flaky sea salt and crushed peppercorns. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the pastry is crisp. Sprinkle with the remaining rosemary and enjoy warm or cold.

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

pearstiltontart10

 

Eat In My Kitchen is out! From the book: Radicchio, Peach & Shallot with Stilton

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

The Eat In My Kitchen book is out and I’m the happiest person on the planet!

One of the exciting – and often quite challenging – things in life is that you never really know where the journey will take you. It’s like being on a ship out on the open sea. Sometimes it seems like you can control the direction, but it might just be an illusion, and in the end you can only ever go with flow instead of fighting against it. Since I understood this, my life rolls more smoothly than ever. I wasn’t one of those kids that had a clear idea of their future and what it should bring. At the age of 18 I was still a bit clueless about my place in this world, so I decided to go to university and study architecture. I was a good girl and left 4 years later with a diploma in my pocket although I knew I wouldn’t want to work as an architect. Instead, I worked happily in the music industry for 15 years. But things changed, I changed, the music business changed, my direction in life changed. I decided to start a food blog on a cold winter’s day in November 2013, and this decision had more of an impact on my life than I could have imagined back then. I shared a new recipe every day in the first year of Eat In My Kitchen, and although I felt creatively extremely stimulated after those 12 months, I was also exhausted. My writing and photography improved tremendously in that year, and my cooking and baking evolved as well – I became more experimental. However, I had to slow down the pace, it was too much. But the solution was easy: less posts on the blog and I found a rhythm that allowed me to enjoy every single part of being a blogger (it still feels weird to say that).

In the even colder days of February 2015, life, the universe, destiny, luck, or whatever you may call it, had different plans. Holly La Due from Prestel Publishing in New York came into my life, she sent me an email in the morning, we skyped in the afternoon, and sealed our deal in the evening – all in one day. Holly’s decision to ask me if I’d like to write a cookbook, changed my life so drastically that I’m still processing what’s been happening in the past year and a half. I never really got used to seeing myself as a blogger, life was too fast, and now I’m a cookbook author. I still have these moments, when I look at my book using one of the recipes in my own kitchen, and I get a little shock and feel, “wow, that’s my book”. I guess I need a little more time.

Most of the time in life it’s not just us alone, not just a single person who creates, we’re woven into a net of people, ideas, and visions. Whoever pulls the string on one side of the net, affects the whole result. This heavy blue book full of recipes, Eat In My Kitchen – to cook, to bake, to eat, and to treat, is not just lying on my table anymore, today it’s been sent out into the world, now it’s on the book shelves and maybe lying on your table. And this makes me feel peacefully happy and thankful, I could squeeze the world.

This book has been a gift for me from the start. Being able to turn a vision into a physical object makes me feel very humble, I know that this book carries a part of every single person who’s been involved. Thank you, to the most amazing team and friends all over the world:

Holly, Jamie, Jan, Lauren, Karen, Luke, Stephen, Angy, Emma, Oliver, Andrew, Will, Marisa, Ron, Monica, Ellen S, Jen, Pia, Julie, Adeline, Ellen M, Cynthia, Molly, Malin, Yossy, the Cini family, Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, Joanna, Karl, Jo, Iggy, Marina, Türkan, Jörg, Kitty, Hetty, Mama, Uli, Ursula, Uwe, Jenny, Edith, Emma, Alex, Julia, Nina, Kim, Jessica, Luke, Matt, Muxu, Daphne, Nadine, Jan, Essa, Sandra, Chris, Alexandra, Doris, Chris, Anna, Jimmy, Gina, Pattie, Jayne, and all my loved ones.

Thank you my wonderful food loving blog friends, you’ve come back and visited these pages for almost 3 years. Your passion, enthusiasm, your questions and comments, your emails and pictures, made me enjoy my kitchen and my food even more than I already do. You drive me on to dig deeper into culinary traditions and to come up with new ideas every day. Thank you and a big hug!

Today I’ll share the second recipe from my book with you, the colourful salad that made it onto the cover of my book and that became one of my favourites. It’s a luscious composition playing with contrasts: bitter crunchy radicchio, soft and juicy peaches, sweet oven roasted shallots, sharp Stilton, and a little thyme. It’s a beauty on your picnic blanket, a fresh addition to your brunch table, and the easiest starter for a dinner party.

The pictures of me and the picnic scene in this post were taken in July, at Villa Bologna in Malta, for an article in the Eating & Drinking Magazine.

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

 

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

Radicchio, Peach, and Roasted Shallot Salad with Blue Cheese

SERVES 2 TO 4

8 shallots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise (or 4 small red onions, peeled and cut into quarters)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Ground pepper
5 ounces (140 g) radicchio, soft leaves only, torn into pieces
4 ripe peaches, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
2 ounces (60 g) Fourme d’Ambert, Stilton, or any crumbly blue cheese, crumbled
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

FOR THE DRESSING

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Fine sea salt
Ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread the shallots on the lined baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, and season to taste with flaky sea salt and pepper. Gently mix with your fingers and roast for 10 minutes. Flip the shallots over and roast for another 5 minutes or until golden brown and soft. Peel any hard or burnt layers off the shallots and set them aside. You can prepare the shallots in advance; they don’t need to be warm.

For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, both vinegars, and the honey; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the radicchio, peaches, and shallots in overlapping layers on plates, sprinkle with the crumbled cheese and thyme, drizzle with the dressing, and serve immediately.

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

 

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

 

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

Roast Onion, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad with Stilton

Roasted Onion, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

Some of my recipes start with a visual idea, with colours and textures that slowly merge into a dish in my head, and this salad was one of them. I could picture an early spring green combined with different shades of red. Green stands for crunchy freshness which I found in tiny leaves of baby spinach, red colours are juicy and sweet, like oven roasted red onions and crunchy pomegranate seeds. It may sound a bit far-fetched, but it’s very simple, I find that, quite often, I can follow this rule: what looks good together tends to taste good together too. Maybe my mind only suggests flavour combinations which my taste buds already connect with a positive experience, I don’t know, it definitely worked for this composition!

Texture was next, as soon as the colours for this dish were set. All these crunchy bites demanded some milky creaminess. A while ago my sister asked me to give blue cheese a little break on eat in my kitchen, she hates it but I love it and therefore I could use it all the time. For sandwiches, of course, salads, risotto, gnocchi or crackers, there’s almost no dish on the savory side that can’t deal with a little addition of this fantastic dairy product. So I knew that I’d have to refuse her request, it’s just too tempting. And here it is again, English Stilton, kind of the queen of blue cheese, it’s simply too good on warm onions and it was a true revelation in combination with the pomegranate. I’m sorry Nina!

Roasted Onion, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

Talking about colours and textures, my dishes got a new addition! A few months ago, I saw pictures of some very puristic plates, the simple shape and elegant lines caught my attention the moment I spotted them. I got in touch with the company, Broste Copenhagen, the same day but unfortunately, Esrum (my desired collection’s name) wasn’t available yet, it’s a brand new series. I had to wait a few weeks, but then a huge box arrived right at my door step, filled with beautiful plates, ceramic mugs and golden cutlery. For almost 20 years, I’ve been using the same flatware, a rustic black set (a Finnish classic from 1952) and my delicate fine Bone China. I didn’t feel bothered as I like both a lot. So, one day my mother mentioned with careful politeness that, for eat in my kitchen, a little change of plates in my photos wouldn’t be a bad idea, just once in a while, for a little variation. I always listen to her wise words, so I started to look for some inspiration. This isn’t an easy undertaking in my case, I prefer products that are timeless, minimal and practical designs, following the architect Mies van der Rohe’s principal that form follows function. Broste seems to have a similar idea in mind and made the perfect plates for me, thank you!

Roasted Onion, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

Roast Onion, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad with Stilton

For 3-4 people you need

medium sized red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges, 3 (about 300g / 10 1/2 ounces)
baby spinach 200g / 7 ounces
pomegranate 1
Stilton, crumbled, 80g / 3 ounces
Daikon cress (or pepper or water cress), a small handful
olive oil 4 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons for the onions
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons
white Balsamico vinegar 1 tablespoon
honey (liquid) 1 teaspoon
sea salt and pepper

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (I used the Rotitherm setting) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread the onions on the baking sheet and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Gently mix with your fingers and roast in the oven for 10 min, turn the onion wedges and cook for another 7-10 minutes or until golden brown and soft.

For the dressing, whisk 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the dark and white vinegar and the honey, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the baby spinach on large plates, lay the onions on top and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and Stilton. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with the cress.

Roasted Onion, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

 

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Roasted Onion, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

 

Roasted Onion, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

 

Roasted Onion, Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

Pear and Stilton – the perfect Sandwich Combination

Stilton + Pear Sandwich

Ripe Stilton and crisp Abate pear are the perfect match for my sandwich. I layer thin slices of the juicy fruit and crumbs of the blue cheese on thick white bread and put it in under the grill, just until the cheese starts to bubble and the bread is slightly roasted. The spiciness of the creamy English cheese and the sweetness of the pear are a heavenly combination.

I once used this duo as a topping for my Quiche and everybody loved it but I must say, it’s just as good on my sandwich and quicker to prepare. All you need is a loaf of white bread (I use fresh spelt Ciabatta), a crisp pear like Abate and around 100g / 3.5 ounces of ripe, spicy Stilton (or any other blue cheese). Prepare your sandwich, finish under the grill and sprinkle with some walnuts and black pepper. You can treat 2-4 people to this wonderful snack, at lunch or as a starter at a dinner party and you can be sure you will make them very happy!

Stilton + Pear Sandwich

 

Stilton + Pear Sandwich