The mister is a simple man when it comes to food, he is truly happy when his plate is filled with his all of his favorites...boiled chicken, mashed potatoes, canned green beans and buttered Wonder Bread. All lightly sprinkled with salt...no pepper, no sauce, no gravy, no flavor. Feel free to saw ewwwwwwwww. When I put this appetizer on his plate you would have thought I had slapped him - his head spun around in horror! What is this crap?!? He's such a smooth talker. I explained to him that this was one of the best appetizers I had ever tasted and that he would love it and then the door bell rang and I left the mister in the kitchen brooding over his strange food. When I walked back into the kitchen not only was his portion of the appetizer gone but mine as well!
This is deceptively delicious. I say deceptive because everyone I have served this to has asked what it was, being unable to tell by just looking. When I told them, usually one of their eyebrows would go up as if to say, reeeeeally?!? Could cooked Concord grapes with blue cheese on top be that good??
That would be a resounding YES! Grapes cooked with Turbinado sugar, lemon peel, and a pinch of spices make the most delicious concoction! The grapes are spread onto toasted store-bought Naan (or you could use toasted and buttered baguette slices) and Bleu cheese is crumbled over the top, along with fresh thyme...Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm good!!
This appetizer will kick off our T-Day feast, and when we go around the table to say what we're thankful for, I'll make sure I've got a huge bite of this in my mouth when I say I'm thankful for delicious food. Because I am and it seems to me it would be rude to say how thankful I am for food without having something delicious in my mouth! Just so you know, Thanksgiving is the only time when one is allowed to talk with their mouth full since it is a day of non-stop eating. This is the perfect bite of Fall, for the entire Thankful Season really, and it can be served warm, at room temperature or even cold, straight from the fridge. This one is dang good, worthy of company...just make sure your company is worthy of this!
Grape, Blue Cheese and Thyme Naan - Adapted From The New York Times
(The New York Times recipe included making the Naan from scratch - who has time for that?!? Also, I reduced the water that was called for and upped the grapes from 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. because it just seemed like a good idea, and it was.)
1 package store-bought Naan (usually comes with 6 pieces)
For the topping:
2 lbs. seedless Concord black grapes
1 teaspoon ground star anise (I borrowed this from my neighbor who had it on hand but you can find it in Asian grocery stores)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Freshly cut zest of 1 lemon, in strips, as big as you can make them
2 tablespoons raw, demerara or turbinado sugar (or you can use brown sugar)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup Blue cheese crumbles
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
In a medium pan over medium-high heat, combine the grapes, star anise, cinnamon, 3/4 cup water, the lemon zest and sugar. Cook for 13 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently and gently smashing the grapes with the back of a spatula until the consistency is jammy and the grapes have softened and begin to burst. Discard the lemon zest. Remove a couple of tablespoons of liquid from the pan into a small ramekin, stir in the cornstarch until smooth, then add the cornstarch mixture back to the pan and mix well. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
Place 4 pieces of Naan onto two rimmed baking sheets, two on each sheet. Spoon the grape mixture onto the center of each Naan, leaving about a 1/2-inch clear around the edges. Brush the edges with olive oil. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until crisp and browned. Remove from the oven and immediately scatter the blue cheese evenly over the top (a couple of tablespoons per Naan or to taste) so it starts to melt. Sprinkle with the thyme and let cool 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges. Makes 8 servings. Serve warm (preferably) or at room temperature.