Long term followers of my work here at The Greedy Wordsmith will know that my love of words originates in a devotion to food. Occasionally I get to combine the two once again. This is one of those times, with an invitation to join in with the Love Cheese Challenge.
Last week a box loaded with delicious cheese was hand delivered to my office at The Natural Entrepreneurs Workspace. Let me tell you, not much work was achieved that day.
From top anti clockwise –
Brie and Black Pepper
All three of the cheeses supplied for the Love Cheese cookery challenge are fine examples of the quality on offer from British cheese producers. But my particular favourite was definitely the Summerfields Alpine from Botton Creamery.
Packed with the deep, nutty flavours of autumn this Comte like cheese immediately brought to mind woody thyme, hazelnuts and sharp apples. This in turn reminded me of a previous recipe from my food history blog; that of a pumpkin and apple pie baked in 1685 by ‘Accomplished Cook’ Robert May. This early version of pumpkin pie combined winter squash, sharp apples, thyme and nuts to make a savoury version of the sweeter concoction we are familiar with today.
So with those component parts in mind, here is my vegetarian recipe for the Love Cheese Challenge 2017.
Cheesy sourdough topped with roasted Crown Prince squash, apple and hazelnuts
One small Crown Prince squash
Two sharp Cox apples
1 – 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil
Good quality hot smoked paprika
5 – 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
100g of hazelnuts
4 slices of seeded sourdough bread
400g of Summerfields Alpine cheese
Two handfuls of fresh rocket
Salad dressing (1 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil, 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, salt and pepper)
Preheat your oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7.
Prepare the Crown Prince squash by chopping into quarters, removing the seeds and then cutting again into inch thick slices. Cut each Cox apple in half. Lay both the squash and the apples into a large roasting tray, drizzle with oil and sprinkle over around a tablespoon of the paprika. Season generously with salt and pepper. Tuck the thyme sprigs amongst the squash slices and roast in a hot oven for around 45 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting you can concentrate on dry frying the hazelnuts to bring out their intense toasty flavours. Roughly chop the nuts and toss into a hot and dry frying pan. Keep stirring on a medium heat until the nuts are just beginning to brown and smell of warm hazelnuts. Put to one side to cool slightly.
Remove the roasting vegetables from the oven and set them aside with the nuts. Toast your bread on one side, turn it over and top it with the Summerfields Alpine cheese. Put it back under the toaster until your cheese is toasted, bubbling and delicious looking.
Assemble each plate with two slices of the sourdough cheese on toast, 2 – 3 slices of squash and half a baked apple before sprinkling with a good handful of the hazelnuts.
Toss the rocket in a drizzle of the salad dressing and serve alongside the meal as a fresh green contrast to the rich flavours in the rest of the dish.
Cooks Tip – I find most squash unwieldly and very difficult to peel so I don’t bother. Simply give them a bit of a scrub to remove dirt and roast with the skin on. On tender squash the skin is often edible, or just peel the skin away before plating it up.