Stilton, Grape, Prosciutto, and Caramelized Onion Flatbread
For those of you who have been following Cheesemonster for awhile, it will come as no surprise to you that I love Stilton. LURVE. LAHHHVE. LUFFFF. Like, not a little but a LOT. Like, if my love for Stilton were a body of water, it wouldn't be a pond. Or a lake. Or even a Great Lake. Or a sea. It would probably be more like the Pacific Fucking Ocean.
In fact, there's a whole blog post about my storied past with this gorgeous blue friend, but just to give you the highlights, my love for Stilton goes way back. In fact, Stilton was my first introduction to blue cheese. As a young'un, I used to celebrate Christmas with my British grandparents. Our feast would include many glorious things (my Gran trained at the Cordon Bleu, after all...), but for me, the true highlight was at the end of the meal: the Stilton course. In keeping with British tradition, a giant hunk of crumbly, blue-marbled cheese was placed on the table, alongside red grapes, blanched and skinned almonds mixed with plump raisins, and perfectly ripe pears, with drams of port in tiny, delicate glasses for the grown-ups. Like magic, we would all suddenly find room in our already-stretched stomachs and nibble on Stilton until we were truly and utterly replete. It was heaven.
Fast forward to a few days ago: one of the hazards of cheesemongery is that sometimes you find yourself with a serious cheese surplus (#cheesemongerproblems... but actually probably more like #cheesemongerproblems?). It usually goes something like this: I'm worried that I won't have enough cheese for an event, so I end up cutting way more cheese than anyone could ever possibly eat, and then I find myself post-event, at home, with a fridge FULL of cheese. (Not the best business strategy in the world, but, you know, I'm working on it.) Suffice it to say that after a big event last weekend, I ended up with about 2 pounds of extra Stilton that didn't have a home.
Now, usually I like to eat my Stilton all by its lonesome with maybe a grape and walnut or two. But, guys... this was an industrial-sized amount of Stilton. I mean, sure, I love eating cheese-plate style for dinner, but this was ridiculous. This probably would have been about 2 months of eating blue cheese-only cheese plates every single night. Not ideal. So my creative-recipe brain started churning, and I started parsing out various ways to turn this pile of delicious blue cheese into multiple meals.
I thought about other flavors that would go well with the cheese - Stilton is so earthy and salty that I wanted to balance it with some sweetness. Grapes were an obvious choice, but I thought that adding another, more savory source of sweetness to add depth and make the meal feel more like dinner and less like dessert would be good too - hence, caramelized onions were added to the mix. Then I started thinking about the crunch-factor. All of the ingredients so far were pretty soft and squishy - cheese, grapes, caramelized onions. What about a crispy crust as a vehicle? Normally, I would have just used my tried and true pizza dough recipe, but since my husband and I are trying to be *healthy* (blerf), I decided to alter the recipe to a whole wheat version. And d'you know what? I'm really glad that I did. The nuttiness of the whole wheat flour did a great job of rounding out the flavors of the whole dish. And then, just before the flatbreads went into the oven, I decided to add just a dash more crispity, crunchity-ness, so I threw some julienned-prosciutto on there too. Just for good measure.
Honestly, I wasn't sure how this new and totally made-up-on-the-fly recipe was going to come out, but it was really, really good (and made a pretty decent dent in my Stilton supply). Next time you're craving some of the blue stuff, mix up your usual blue cheese routine and give these guys a whirl.
ingredients for crust
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 and 3/4 cups warm water
4.5 tsp instant yeast (about 2 packets)
about a TB of dried thyme
about a TB of dried rosemary
1.5 TB olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting
ingredients for topping
about 1 cup of crumbled Stilton (I used Colston Bassett Stilton. Because it's the best. But you do you... but seriously, it's the best)
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 TB olive oil
1 small bunch of red grapes, each grape halved (I probably used about a cup and a half... but you do you boo boo)
6 slices prosciutto, sliced fairly thinly width-wise (so you end up with short strips, not really long strips)
-Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside for about 5 minutes (until it starts bubbling).
-Meanwhile, mix together the dry ingredients for the crust in a large bowl.
-Make a well the middle of the dry ingredients, and add olive oil and water/yeast mixture. Using a firm spatula, mix all the ingredients together until they form a dough.
-Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead dough for about 6 minutes, adding small amounts of flour, until it's no longer sticky.
-Form the dough into a ball and put in a well-oiled bowl to rise for 1.5-2 hours.
-While dough is rising, prep the rest of your ingredients: Sauté onions in olive oil over a low heat, stirring often, until caramelized (this should take about 20-25 minutes - when you're done, just take the whole pan off of the heat, saving the onions and oil); slice grapes and prosciutto, crumble Stilton)
-Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
-When the dough is done rising, punch it down and divide into 3. Form each piece of dough into a flatbread, sprinkling one side with cornmeal.
-Transfer each flatbread to a baking sheet, cornmeal-side down, and brush with the olive oil used to sauté the onions. Then top with the rest of the ingredients, dividing the toppings equally between each flatbread.
-Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes.