Stilton Pinwheels and Apple Walnut Slaw

At this one gig, we always had huge chunks of Stilton lying around. We never used it all before it died and I wasn’t allowed to (gasp) freeze it. So one night I was bored and staring at a big old piece of Stilton when an idea occurred to me.

I’d been kicking around some appetizer special ideas all day. I was hot for doing some riffs on cheese and fruit pairings. Something approachable, a little whimsical with a touch of elegance for my high-endish clients.

The idea of a warm, baked-to-order Stilton filled pastry bored into my mind. Within five minutes I had all my components assembled and was working away, happy as Dexter in his laboratory.

Soft, warm, funky cheese is balanced out by crisp, tart apple. The saltiness of the cheese and the slight bitterness from the walnuts work with the honey’s sweetness to make harmony on the tongue. Rich, freshly baked pastry provides a nice middle note for the velvety cheese and the crunchy slaw.

The lady in charge of the front of the house (that is, the bar and the servers) was going to choose a white wine with which to pair this dish.

You know Stilton is a blue cheese (or you should…), but did you know that there’s white Stilton out there? I recommend getting some. White Stilton with apricots is my favorite. You can get it with some other fruits and flavorings, like ginger, mango, whatever.

How do you prefer your Stilton?

Ingredients:

Puff pastry sheets cut into 4.5 inch squares
1 ounce chunk of Stilton per pastry square
1 egg beaten with a tablespoon of water
1 granny smith apple, well chilled
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup toasted walnuts
Salt and black pepper to taste

To assemble the pastry:

Imagine there are lines running diagonally across the pastry from each corner. Using a sharp knife, cut from the corners of the pastry to halfway to the middle. Do this for all four corners.

Take a chunk of cheese and place it in the center of the pastry. If it seems like it’s sticking up too much, break it up a bit.

Lightly brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash.

Fold every other corner to the center. Press gently if needed to seal the cheese in.

Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the pastry onto a parchment lined baking sheet and baked for 7-10 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and turned a nice golden brown.

Stilton pinwheels ready to go in the oven.

Stilton pinwheels ready to go in the oven.

For the slaw:

Cool, sweet, crunchy apple walnut slaw. The walnuts provide a pleasing bitter counterpoint.

Cool, sweet, crunchy apple walnut slaw. The walnuts provide a pleasing bitter counterpoint.

Core and cut the apple into ¼ inch pieces. Toss the honey, oil and walnuts in a blender and pulse just until the walnuts are broken up. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the apple in the honey/walnut mixture.

To finish the dish:

Place a portion of the slaw on a plate and place a warm pinwheel on top.

The dish is a pleasing study in contrasts.

The dish is a pleasing study in contrasts.

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