The Overly Developed Imagination of the Only Child

bluemushSo, to herald my recent departure from unemployment, pajamas, self loathing and day time television is a recipe 100% guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart. If hearts have cockles, which I happen to highly doubt. For one thing, this recipe is a slight adaptation from one on the BBC good food website. For those who don’t know me very well BBC good food is to me what cute, captioned pictures of anthropomorphic cats are to most people. The internet equivalent of a sanctuary; a safe, unbreachable, harmonious haven.

RECIPE:

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 4tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 400g baby spinach
  • frozen puff pastry (block or sheets) defrosted
  • 140g stilton (or other blue cheese) sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat your oven to 200’C.

Put the oil in a frying pan and let it heat. Sizzle the mushrooms for a few minutes each side, just until they begin to darken and soften up a little. Put them to the side.

Turn the heat low and using the same frying pan and oil, add the chopped garlic and let it cook for a few seconds. Toasty, golden garlic may be delicious but burnt garlic tastes like the innermost circles of hell. Add the spinach and stir it until it’s wilted to about a millionth of it’s former size. Season the spinach and garlic with salt and pepper and pop it in a sieve to drain. You can use the back of a spoon as a squishing device to speed the process along a little. You want to squeeze out as much liquid as possible or the pastry will be soggy. Which is, as we know, completely unacceptable.

MaryBerryRoll out your pastry (about a £1 thickness) on a lightly floured surface. Using a bowl or plate that is much bigger than the mushrooms as a template cut out 8 circles from the pastry for the tops and bottoms.

On 4 pastry discs, spoon a quarter of the spinach mix, a couple of slices of cheese and add the mushroom (smooth side up) and top with a little more cheese until it kind of looks like a little pixie house (I was an only child, alright? Drop it.) Repeat this for the other 3 mushrooms.

100_1154Brush some beaten egg around the edge of the mushrooms and drape the 4 remaining pastry discs over the top. Use your fingers to press the edges of the pastry together. The bottom disc will be much wider than the top so I like to fold it over in a pretty sort of star pattern. This also seems to seal the pastry better, making the cheese much less likely to leak out of the sides.

100_1165You can also use the left over pastry to make some highly unnecessary but pretty decorations. Glaze the tops with a generous amount of egg and pop them in the oven for around 40mins or until they are very puffed up and golden-brown.

100_1172How sweet are they? Little golden parcels of deliciousness. The blue-cheese tanginess is so good with the meatiness of the mushrooms. They have the added benefit of looking kind of posh as well, so dinner party it up! Impress your in-laws. Or just foil your friends into bringing round copious bottles of wine. It’s a win-win either way!

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Mary Berry Goes Commando

muI love cooking with pastry – it just makes meal times feel that bit more fancy. Even if your pastry was very cheap, very un home-made and, in fact, very much bought from the frozen section of the supermarket. I will admit there’s something almost fur coat and no knickers about shop-bought pastry but who honestly gives a damn? Going commando can be liberating.

The trick with filo pastry is not to let it dry out. If you buy frozen let it defrost beneath a slightly damp tea towel and leave the bulk of it under the tea towel while you work with individual sheets. If it dries out it will pretty much turn to ashes as soon as you touch it, like some kind of melodramatic emo song lyric (vaguely embarrassing and to be avoided).

RECIPE: (serves 4)

  • 500g leeks, thinly sliced
  • 150ml hot vegetable stock
  • 175g button/chestnut mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 large sheets filo pastry
  • olive oil
  • 85g goats cheese
  • 1tsp toasted sesame seeds/poppy seeds

Heat the oven to 200’C/180’C fan and line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the leeks and the stock into a saucepan and cook for about 8 minutes until the leeks are starting to soften, add the mushrooms and cook together for 5-8 mins until most of the stock has evaporated. Squeeze out the rest of the liquid of the liquid with a fork. You don’t want to end up with a soggy strudel. Mary Berry will hunt you down like a stern, mildly threatening, overly lip-sticked grandmother.

imagesLightly brush a sheet of filo pastry with olive oil and then fold it in half so that the un-oiled side is facing upwards. Brush the edges with more oil and then spoon a quarter of the veg along one edge. Crumble a quarter of the goats cheese over the top, fold over the edges and then roll up. Lather, Rinse and Repeat for each strudel.

Pop the strudels on the baking tray, brush the tops with oil and scatter on the seeds. I think toasted sesame taste lovely with the goats cheese but the black of the poppy seeds also look pretty striking. The choice is yours.

Bake for 25 mins until crisp and goldeny-brown.

100_1038These are crunchy and filled with deliciously melt-y cheese. The best thing is that they aren’t too bad for you either. Filo pastry is the healthiest and probably about a billion times better for you than puff pastry, so all in all they aren’t too fatty either! Serve them with some green salad and you have a fabulous lunch… dahlings.

100_1041Gratuitous close-up of melting, gooey innards. Possibly NSFW.

mushfoot