Stichelton & Smoked Bacon Salad

Stichelton is a delicious, unpasteurised blue cheese, made to the original Stilton recipe at the Welbeck Dairy in Nottinghamshire.  I first tried this at the School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck estate, at one of their amazing lunches during a baking course.

Stilton and bacon salad plate

I bought my cheese from the Welbeck farm shop, where I can easily spend way too much money as there are so many good things to buy!  I love it with the apple sourdough that I always buy a loaf of when I go there too.

Stilton and bacon salad

Blue cheese and bacon go so well together and with the addition of toasted pecans and a few tart, dried cranberries, this salad is one of my favourite lunches.  Sometimes I add grilled chicken for a substantial warm salad that is good any time of the year.  I serve this with a simple honey and mustard dressing

I usually use smoked streaky bacon for this salad, but I bought some black treacle cured, smoked back bacon today, which worked really well.

Stilton bacon salad closeup

This is enough for 1-2 people, but the quantities can easily be increased.

Ingredients:
Mixed salad leaves – baby leaves, spinach, Rocket/Arugula, Romaine – anything you like
4-6 slices of good quality smoked streaky bacon with the rind removed or 2-3 slices of black treacle cured smoky back bacon
Stichelton or Stilton blue cheese at room temperature with the rind removed
Red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of pecans, toasted in the oven for 5 minutes
A few craisins (dried cranberries)

Dressing:
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp Wholegrain mustard
2tsp Runny honey
4tsp Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper if desired

Pre heat the oven to 220°C/430°F

Line a baking sheet with foil and place the bacon on the sheet. Cook for around 10 minutes or until crisp and chop into rough pieces.

Arrange the leaves, warm pecans, cranberries and tomatoes on the plate and whisk the ingredients for the dressing until you have a nice, slightly thickened consistency.

Stilton bacon closeup

Toss the salad gently in the dressing. Break the Stichelton into large crumbles and top with the hot bacon, toss gently once more and serve immediately.

Goats Cheese Ball

Totally retro, but still delicious and a great addition to any party or buffet table.  A cheese ball is really easy to make and the variations are endless.  This one is made with goats cheese and served with green olive and roasted red pepper crackers – recipe below.

Cheeseball

Ingredients:
8oz/227g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
8oz/227g soft goats cheese at room temperature
1 tbs chopped dill
2tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup/175g finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup/50g finely chopped dried cranberries
Crackers for serving – see below for recipe

Method:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the room temperature cheeses, dill and 1 tsp of black pepper and mix on low speed until well mixed.  Using a spatula, scrape out the cheese mixture, pile onto cling film and form into a ball.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so it can firm up.

On a plate, spread out the chopped pecans, 1 tsp black pepper and cranberries and roll the ball until fully coated.  This is ready to use immediately, otherwise refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Serve with a good chutney, crackers and chilled white wine.

Cracker

Olive & Roasted Pepper Crackers

Green olives and roasted red peppers make these crackers the perfect accompaniment to the cheese ball

Ingredients:
2 cups/280g plain/all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
2 oz/57g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 tbs green olives, finely chopped
4 tbsp roasted red peppers, finely chopped – I like to roast my own, but you can buy ready roasted peppers in a jar
1/2 cup/112ml milk
olive oil
sea salt

Method:
Preheat oven to 190ºC/375°F

Line 2 baking sheets with a non stick liner or parchment paper.

Mix the flour, salt and oregano until well combined.

Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Stir in the chopped olives, roasted red peppers and milk until evenly mixed.

Divide the dough in half.  Turn out one half of the dough straight onto the non stick liner and roll out to about ¼” thickness.  The thinner they are, the crispier they become and rolling out straight onto the liner means you can roll out the dough very thin.  Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2”x2” squares and remove any excess dough to re-roll.  They shrink a little as they bake, so you don’t need to worry about them sticking together or having to separate them.

Prick the top of each cracker one or twice and lightly brush tops of crackers with olive oil, finishing with a light sprinkle of sea salt.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Bake at 190ºC/375°F for up to 25 minutes or until crackers are golden brown.  Be careful not to let them burn.

Let the crackers cool completely before serving.

Crackers