You had me at “sweet n’ salty”. Mixed popcorn, salted candied nuts, peanut-butter and jam sandwiches, those cheese and pineapple sticks that you had at kid’s parties – sweet n’ salty is the reigning flavour combination for me.
My two favourite ingredients to combine is a salty, tangy cheese along with syrupy, sweet fig jam. In fact the two smeared on toast is my breakfast most mornings. Of course, fig jam could never beat a plump, fresh fig plucked straight from a tree (not much could to be honest), but the fig seasons are short and not all of us live in a Mediterranean dreamscape, so fig jam will do for me most days!Jump to Recipe
Despite (or most likely) in spite of being a chef and cooking for my living, I more often than not, want food that is quick and requires more “assemblage” than cooking. That’s where shop-bought puff pastry saves the day for me. Yesterday’s leftover roast dinner get given a rustic hat and turned into a pie, fridge scraps get bunged together into little pasties to take up the mountain and emergency pudding can appear in half an hour with the addition of an old apple, sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon. Puff-Pastry Pizzas are what I have in mind though then I throw a roll of ready-roll pastry into my basket most food shops.
“Salt is a flavour enhancer, and when it’s correctly combined with something sweet, it creates flavour layering.
With a pile of toppings and a packet of puff pastry you could have a pizza party ready in just over 20 minutes. The following recipe is a variation of my fig, blue cheese and walnut puff pizza. The combination of ingredients changes each and every time, depending on what’s in the fridge and cupboards. If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, use a crumbly goat’s instead or a mild mozzarella. If you want extra sweetness add a drizzle of honey or substitute the walnuts for another texture such as, pine nuts or crispy fried onions thrown on at the very end. A light sprinkling of hot chilli flakes and a drizzle of acidic balsamic turns this rustic slab into something that’s elegantly balanced in flavour. Use my ingredients list only as a guideline, that’s how you’ll find the most fun with throwing these easy “pizzas” together. You basically want to achieve the perfect symphony of tastes and textures. Think bitter chicory, salty prosciutto, aromatic fennel, crunchy asparagus, deeply sweet roasted garlic…the list is an endless one that I haven’t yet exhausted.
Read here to discover the scientific reasons for why salty and sweet flavours work so well together, how we have our ancestors to thank for it and how the answer is literally on the tip of your tongue.