Monday, October 5, 2009

Stilton en croûte aux Champignons et Épinard

The weather is getting colder these few weeks in the coast and for several days it rained continuously. Looks like Winter maybe earlier this year! My little boy caught the cold and coughs from his Dad. Felt like I'm started to have the symptoms too ... sigh... :-( Anyway, I don't want this to upset my day, grabbed few food mags and newsletters from couple of shops my family frequent to. Sometimes, you can get very good deals when the supermarkets and wholesalers on promotions. Few months ago, I got few promo packs of 2 + 1 Galbani Cow Mozzarella for € 2.99! I missed the one that gave 1 tub of Ricotta Finetta :-( Back in my hometown, that price is for 1 piece of the same item! Of course, at the same time, I bought Buffalo Mozzarella too. It's a must in my menu :-D Both items shared the same shelf anyway :-P.

So, this time I was keen to try out some recipes with Stilton cheese and I saw one version called Melty Mushroom Wellington in Good Food magazine, October issue. Now, 'Wellington' in the culinary world is informally used to describe other dishes in which meat or fish are baked in a puff pastry not boots! That reminded me fondly of Paddington Bear and his cute yellow wellington boots :-D Anyway, instead of the usual fare of having Stilton, I was torn between cooking a soup with Stilton or bake the savoury pastry. In the end, I chose the savoury pastry recipe as I want to use up an 'ancient' ready-to-roll pastry in the freezer. It would be great for l'heure de l'apéro before dinner and I'll have the Stilton (again!) to end the dinner with :-D. I want to try out the recipe because it's vegetarian and it looked quite easy. I'm not that good in baking and I want to improve it seriously. By the way, anyone follows BBC's Masterchef: The Professionals? It's really a great challenging cooking shows among chefs. I skipped others cooking challenges just to watch it.

One more thing, if you have those Stilton cheese that came in ceramic jars, you need to spoon it out thinly to layer the fillings for this recipe. It's easier if you can find sliced Stilton (or any sliced Blue Cheeses). I was lucky this time to taste Stilton from Paxton & Whitfield (last Stilton-in-a-Jar I had was from Harrod's) brought back by my father-in-law during his trip to London recently. Here's my adaptation of the original recipe. I'm not sure if I followed it correctly in the pastry steps but the Verdict? It's delicious and will definitely make it again!

Stilton with Mushroom and Spinach Puffs
(Stilton en croûte aux Champignons et Épinard)
Serves 4

4 Medium-size White/Brown Mushrooms
300 g Spinach leaves
1 Tbl Thyme leaves ~ hand picked
1 clove Garlic ~ chopped finely
1 Shallot ~ chopped finlely
4 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Egg ~ plus a good pinch of salt, beaten for brushing and taste :-)
100 g Stilton Cheese (or any Bleu Cheese you fancy)
1 x 32 cmRoll Ready Made Butter Puff Pastry (or x 500g block)
Flour for dusting
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Heat the oven to 200 ºC/180 ºC Fan.
2. Remove stalks from mushrooms. In a pan enough to cook the mushrooms all at once, heat half of the olive oil and sizzle the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes on each sides until golden and cooked through (depends on the size of the mushrooms, you may need longer time to cook them). Lift the mushrooms out onto kitchen paper for a moment. Set aside.
3. In the same frying pan, heat the rest of the oil. Fry garlic for few seconds and add in the chopped shallot. Fry until the shallots turn transparent, then add in the spinach. Cook for 2-3 minutes over high heat until completely wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the cooked spinach into a sieve to drain the liquid thoroughly.
4. On a cleaned, lightly floured working surface, scatter the picked thyme leaves and roll out the puff pastry on top of the herb. Light press the pastry surface evenly to make sure the thyme leaves stick to it nicely. Using a cutter, cut out 4 size pastry rounds 2 cm wider than the mushrooms for the base and 4 pieces of 4 cm wider rounds for the tops (that is 4 cm wider than the measured base).
*After several attempts to maximise the yield of the ready-made rolled puff pastry, it gave me about 4 pcs x 8 cm base and 4 pcs x 10 cm top. I was lucky to find smaller mushrooms than the base size.
5. To Esemble:
Divide the cooked spinach into 4 portions and stilton cheese into 8 portions. Place the smaller circles on a lined baking sheet. Top with 1/4 of the spinach and making sure that the amount isn't wider than the size of the mushroom. Top with 1/8 of the stilton cheese and then a mushroom, top side up and another 1/8 portion of stilton cheese. Brush the edges with beaten egg. Top it with one larger puff pastry round and gently stretch the pastry over the mushroom ~ trying not to trap any air, then press the edges together with a fork. Trim the edges if needed and brush the top generously with beaten egg. Complete the rest of the cut out puff pastries with mushrooms, spinach and cheese.
6. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Leave them to cool for few minutes before serving. (Depends on the types of oven, you may need to adjust the temperature or the pastries may burn. Please read the manufacturer's manual).

Tip: This recipe can be made several days before as it freezes well and it's great for tea time as well.

If using large mushrooms like Field mushrooms or Portobellos, it's best to use a 500 g block Ready-made Puff pastry. Scatter the thyme leaves (or suitable fresh herbs available) on floured surface, roll out the block to the thickness of 3 mm. Cut out 4 pieces pastry rounds 5 cm wider than the mushrooms and 4 pieces of 10 cm wider rounds for the tops, re-rolling the trimmings if needed. If you're short of time (like me), you can use 2 ready-to-roll puff pastries; 1 for the base and 1 for the top (like making Ravioli) and follow Step 5 to finish.


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