This hors d’oeuvre came together in the same manner as the majority of my family meals. I use a recipe as a starting point and make it my own as I go. Pulling in items from my pantry, substituting others from my fridge…this is my cooking “happy place.” I appreciate the security of knowing that my base is tried and true but then enjoy improvising. I’ll pull in complementary ingredients, use techniques that are innate and even throw in some prepared elements like a favorite marinade, seasoning salt or pastry crust.
I think that this is the way most people cook or at least the way that confident cooks operate. It’s fun, creative and rewarding. It’s also practical because you tend to use what you have on hand, incorporating a little of this and a little of that along the way. Are there some missteps? Absolutely. But will you turn out a dish that is inedible? Rarely. The reward (and the risk) is that every now and then you end up with a gem. The problem with this is that replication can be a challenge but then again, the fun is to be constantly creating.
So, at the insistence of a bunch of enthusiastic “tasters,” here is my Roasted Golden Beet, Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Pizza. I will warn you that my photo is sadly lacking. I was urged to snap it with my iPhone midway through happy hour–so I guess you can say that the image is testament to its popularity? The recipe starts with an adaptation of a Stilton and Shallot Pate that I found on Ramsons & Bramble via Pinterest. I made this spread and absolutely loved it with crackers and toasted baguette slices. But then I started thinking about the possibilities and long story short ended up with this pizza. So I will say, make the pate and enjoy it as is but then crank it up a notch and make this pizza. It will disappear while you are thinking about what other riffs you may take. And please share those riffs in the comments below as we’d all love to take a ride with you.
- 8 oz cream cheese (I used Philadelphia brand 1/3 less fat)
- 8 oz good quality blue cheese, crumbled
- 2 Tbls white wine
- 2 Tbls heavy cream
- 1 Tbls shallot, chopped fine
- 1 small celery stick, chopped fine
- a dash of nutmeg
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a food processor, blend the cheeses, wine and cream until smooth. Add the shallot and celery, blend again. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper (I was generous with the pepper). Fill a small ramekin, seal and refrigerate for at least two hours and even better, for days.
- Enjoy with crackers at room temperature or spread it on the pizza below.
- 1 store-bought thin pizza crust
- 1/2-3/4 cup of the Blue Cheese spread, above, at room temperature
- 1 Tbls olive oil
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
- 3 small golden beets*
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Maldon sea salt, optional
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread blue cheese onto thin crust pizza.
- Heat 1 Tbls olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add thinly sliced onion and heat over medium-low until golden and significantly softened, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add sugar, thyme and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add approximately 2 Tbls of water and stir onions to scrap up browned bits. Once the water is absorbed, remove onions from the heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cut the stems off your beets close to the base and scrub the beets to remove any dirt. Place the beets in the center of a piece of aluminum foil and fold edges to create a tight seal. Put the packet on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for an hour. Remove the packet after an hour and carefully open to release steam and allow the beets to become cool enough to handle. When the beets are done, they should pierce easily with a knife and the skins should peel off easily with your fingers. Depending on the size of your beets, you may have to put them back in the oven for a bit but don't worry roasted beets are very forgiving on time and temperature--you really can't mess up.
- After the beets are cooked and peeled, cut them into a small, even dice.
- Spread cooked onions over the blue cheese pizza crust and top with an even sprinkling of cooked beets. Place pizza in the oven (directly on the rack for a crispy crust) and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling slightly and the flavors have had the opportunity to meld. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt, cut into 16 squares and serve.
- *I used golden beets which I find to have a more mild flavor that regular red or purple beets. Any beets would be fine.