Wednesday, 29 August 2012
One of my favourite things to do is to combine different flavours and textures together in unsual ways. I picked up a packet of crumpets at the Spar the other night, thinking we would have some toasted crumpets and jam that night for a late supper in front of the telly.
To make a long story short, it didn't happen . . . so I was sat there looking at this packet of crumpets today . . . and thinking that I needed to do something with them before the expiry date and then I thought why not pizzas???
Why not indeed? Crumpets make the most fabulous pizzas, not the least because they have all those lovely little holes and tunnels in them for the toppings to melt down into. Scrummo! Way scrummo!
Then I started thinking of flavours that go well together . . . I had a block of lovely Stilton cheese in the refrigerator, and some beautiful pears that came in our veggie box yesterday. Pears and stilton go very well together. It's that old favourite combination of sweet and salty, plus a bit of tang.
Then I thought . . . walnuts also go really well with both pears and stilton. so then I had my topping mix. I added a bit of mozzarella just for bit of extra ooooze quality.
I wanted to add something extra though . . . kind of like a dressing and I toyed with the idea of a white balsamic vinaigrette and then I spied a bottle of Acacia honey in the cupboard and thought to myself . . . sage and honey. Sage and honey . . . SAGE HONEY! So I infused the honey with the flavours of some lovely freeze dried sage I keep on hand and drizzled this over the finished pizzas . . . and voila!!
Magnifique! Sweet, savoury, tangy, and crunchy . . . all on a scrummy crumpet!
What more could you ask for????
*Pear, Stilton & Walnut Crumpet Pizzas, with a Drizzle of Sage Honey*
Makes 4 servings as a starter, or a delicious lunch for 2
A fabulous mix of flavours and textures that is wonderfully delicious. If you are a fan of salty/sweet and crunchy . . . this is just perfect for you!
4 English Crumpets
175g of Stilton cheese, crumbled (6 ounces)
50g of mozzarella cheese, grated (2 ounces)
50g of chopped walnuts (approximately 1/2 cup)
1 medium firm ripe pear, cored and coarsely chopped
For the Sage honey:
2 heaped dessertspoons of a mild flavoured liquid honey
1 tsp of freeze dried sage leaves
First make the Sage Honey. Put the honey into a microwave safe glass bowl. Stir in the sage leaves. Heat on high for about 40 seconds. Stir again and set aside. Keep warm.
Preheat your oven grill to high. Place the crumpets onto a baking pan. Toast under the grill on both sides until lightly golden brown. While the crumpest are toasting, mix together the cheeses, pear and walnuts. Divide this mixture evenly amongst the four crumpets, piling it loosely on top. Pop back under the grill for several minutes, until the cheeses are melted and the walnuts are beginning to toast.
Remove from the grill. Scoop carefully off onto 4 serving plates if serving as a starter, and 2 plates if serving as a lunch for two. Drizzle evenly with the sage honey and serve immediately.
As you know, my husband and I are Latter Day Saints, and as such we don't drink alcohol, although I am not opposed to cooking with it. I live in Chester, which is the gateway to Wales up here in the North West . . . and I was greatly intrigued several weeks ago when I was contacted by Fine Wines Direct and asked would I like to try some Welsh Wines. I had no idea that they made Wine in Wales. How fascinating.
I told them that I didn't drink wine, but did cook with it from time to time and so I was sent two lovely looking bottles of wine from the Ancre Hill Estates Winery, situated at Ancre Hill on the outskirts of Monmouth, in South East Wales.
The vineyard is comprised of two sites on the outskirts of Monmouth town. The Folly View site of 6 acres is principally planted with Chardonnay and Albario. The newer Town site of 3 acres is totally dedicated to Pinot Noir. Both sites are south facing on well draining, limestone soils and the long hours of sunshine and comparatively low rainfall in the little valley all combine to make it an ideal location for vines.
I was sent a bottle of their Rose Wine (2010) and a bottle of their White (2010). I have not been able to use them yet, unfortunately, but I did want to tell you about this beautiful winery.
Set in the middle of the Wye Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty, the vineyard is blessed with its own unique meso-climate, surrounded by tree topped hills on all sides, with the famous Brecon Beacons to the north. Being produced in an area of outstanding beauty is not what makes this wine different however, and this is what I found completely fascinating!
Ancre Hill Estates Winery is one of the few wineries in the country to use Biodynamics to help produce their wines. I expect you are wondering just what that is??? So was I . . .
The concept of 'Biodynamic agriculture' was proposed by the philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner through a series of lectures called "The Agriculture Course," held in Koberwitz, Germany between the 7th and 16th of June, 1924. The course provided farmers with an alternative to the ever more industrialised nature of agriculture. Ancre Hill Estates take pride in practice farming which stays true to the principles set out by Steiner, which have been adapted to their Vineyard site for the present day. These are practices which help them to maintain their beautiful piece of Wales and which help them to protect the intregrity of their vines. This means that their wines are chemical free, and that they use natural process to care for their vines. They also plant their vines according to the lunar cycles, which is another thing I found to be quite fascinating.
"The concept of biodynamic agriculture means we don't use any chemicals whatsoever in our process. It means we keep the whole ecology of the area in balance," he says.
The method adheres to the belief that the moon's gravitational pull can cause the seeds to swell and burst at certain times. This factor, coupled with the increasing moonlight, creates balanced root and leaf growth.
"We don't follow the lunar cycle to the letter, it's much more instinctive than that, " says Mr Morris.
"For example if we do the winter pruning in a descending moon on a fruit day, then it's going to put lots of visceral forces into the vine and they are going to come back much stronger."
(text taken from Wales online.co.uk)
This is something which I really admire in modern production of anything. I love it when farms and companies and producers are environmentally aware and when they use a quality of care towards our environment in the production of their products. This to me is a HUGE plus.
Richard Morris and his family started planting in 2006 and are only the second biodynamic vineyard in the UK, which is impressive, especially since their wines have now managed to scoop an impressive three awards on the international circuit, having impressed judges around the world, with a silver medal for it's Sparkling Rose (2008 vintage) and two bronzes for it's Sparkling Shite (2008 vintage) and it's Pinot Noir (2009 vintage) from the International Wine and Spirits Competition.
In any case it all sounds like a very winning combination to me, and I promise to let you know exactly what I think of their flavours as soon as I have the opportunity to cook with them. This building work which is going on in our home at the moment is somewhat cramping my cooking mojo, to say the least!! Many thanks to Fine Wines Direct for this opportunity to learn something about these very unique wines as well as the opportunity to share what I learned with each of you.