Seven months after our lives were turned upside down by the Christchurch earthquake, we have finally settled into our own home in Nelson. The last of the boxes (well, all bar two) have been unpacked; the guest bedrooms have been painted in readiness for anyone who wants to come for a visit; a new hot-water cylinder has been installed so that a decent shower is now a possibility; paintings have been hung; and plans are underway for a new kitchen.
We are beginning to feel "at home" in our house and in this new community, and with that my inspiration to find my way back to the heart of my home - the kitchen - has returned. I have unpacked all my cookbooks and spent hours pouring through them all, enjoying coming back to ones that I haven't opened for a long time, and I'm inspired by the abundance of beautiful fruit and vegetables and great small producers that I find at our local market.
This weekend I picked up some beautiful local cheeses and chorizo at the market, and was inspired by a recipe from Return of the Naked Chef, by Jamie Oliver, to make this Blue Cheese, Fig & Walnut Flatbread to accompany them. Although it didn't quite start out that way - it was going to be a cheese, chilli and paprika flatbread, but when I went to the pantry looking for dried chillies and paprika, somehow dried figs and walnuts were what jumped into my hands.
This bread was easy to make, has great texture, keeps well, and the filling turns this into a great "stand alone" bread. Hope you'll give it a try.
Blue Cheese, Fig & Walnut Flatbread Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Jamie Oliver
(Makes 2 large loaves)
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
For the bread:
3 teaspoons dried yeast
1 tablespoon honey
625ml (1-1/4 pints) tepid water
1kg (2.2 lbs) high grade flour
2 teaspoons salt
extra flour for dusting
For the filling:
6 dried figs
200g (7 oz) blue cheese
1 cup walnuts
Dissolve yeast and honey in half of the tepid water, and set aside until a thick foam forms on top of the water.
Put the flour and salt into a large bowl, making a well in the centre. Pour the frothy yeast mixture into the centre and then, using your hand, stir in a circular motion, gradually drawing more flour into the centre until all of the yeasty liquid has been absorbed. Pour in the remaining tepid water and continue mixing until all the flour has been incorporated and you have a nice moist dough - use more liquid if necessary.
Dust a board or bench top with some extra flour, turn your dough ball out and knead vigorously for about 8 minutes.
Flour your hands well, and sprinkle a little flour over the top of the dough. Form into a ball and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Score the top of the dough with a sharp knife, cover with a clean tea towel, and set aside to prove until the dough has doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Soak the figs in a little hot water until soft and plump, then chop coarsely. Toast the walnuts until golden; chop coarsely. Put the chopped figs and walnuts into a small bowl, crumble in the blue cheese, and mix together well. Set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F).
When the dough has doubled in size, punch the air out of it and knead again for a minute or so. Cut the dough into four equal sized pieces. Set three pieces aside and cover with a tea towel, while you work with the first piece.
Roll the first piece of dough out into something vaguely resembling a large oval shape, and about the length of your baking sheet. Place the rolled out dough onto the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle half of the fig, walnut and cheese mixture over the top, leaving a 2 cm (1 inch) border.
Roll out the second piece of dough to roughly the same size and shape (you don't need to be too precise), and drape this piece of dough over the top. Press the edges together. Make three or four deep slashes down the length of the bread, and stretch to open up the slashes exposing the filling.
Now repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Set loaves aside to prove for another 20-30 minutes, then bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.
This would be a great addition to an antipasto platter, or tear into chunks and serve with your favourite soup.
I'm sharing this post at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where this week we have our final week of cooking with Jamie. Do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all been cooking up for our farewell to Jamie, and find out who we'll be cooking with for the next six months ....
.... and check out Jamies Italy and many of his other great titles, available from Amazon or Fishpond NZ.
I'm also sharing this post with Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya at My Sweet and Savory, Bake with Bizzy, and the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop hosted by April of The 21st Century Housewife.