Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Lemon-stuffed Cashew Loaf en Croute with Gooseberry Drizzle

Yes, I know, another nut loaf. However, this recipe combines two favourites - lemon and cashews (as it says on the tin) - as well as cooking them in a golden puff pasty case. I suppose this makes the dish a kind of Wellington, too.
by James Bowe
I made up the recipe for a Christmas lunch ages ago and have cooked it many times since then for 'occasions'. There's no picture of the finished dish currently, as I haven't cooked it since I began this blog in February, but when I next make it I'll post one.

Although it takes a while to prepare - about 40 minutes once the ingredients are assembled - it's not difficult and will always look great as it emerges hot and flaky from the oven. It carves well, producing attractive semi-circular slices, and is well complemented by the traditional roast potatoes and almost any vegetables. Cranberry sauce makes a good accompaniment, but gooseberry drizzle is a lovely sharp dressing as well as looking inviting.

This recipe serves 6, which is why a block of pastry is needed rather than the smaller, ready-rolled sheets (though you could try overlapping two of them if you hate rolling out pastry). The main filling and the stuffing can be prepared in advance, e.g. the previous evening, and kept in the fridge with the pastry while it's thawing. The loaf left over, if there is any, can be served at room temperature the following day.

Lemon-stuffed Cashew Loaf en Croute

  • 75g butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped                 
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 225g fresh cashew nuts (bought whole or in bits), ground fairly finely 
  • 275g fresh breadcrumbs                                                                                
  • 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 lemon - all the juice and finely rated rind
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or half tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 325g block of frozen puff pastry, thawed for several hours in the fridge
  • 2 handfuls of fresh gooseberries, topped and tailed ( or a cupful of frozen, thawed)
  • 2 tbsp sugar  
The oven should be ready at 180C, shelf in the centre.  
by dbking 
Directions for the Main Filling

   1  Melt 25g of the butter in a large pan. Add the onion and fry gently for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
   2  Add the cashew nuts, 100g of the breadcrumbs, all except about 1 tablespoon of the beaten eggs, the nutmeg  and the milk. Season with a quarter teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Mix thoroughly.  
   3  Mould into the shape of a bloomer loaf and set aside. 

Directions for the Stuffing
   1  In a bowl, rub the remaining 50g butter into the remaining 175g of breadcrumbs until well mixed. Season well with salt and pepper, and add the lemon rind and juice, and the herbs.
   2  Mix well and mould into a thin log shape the same length as the main filling.

The Gooseberry Drizzle
  1  If using fresh gooseberries, put in a small pan with 2 tbsp water. Heat gently and simmer until the gooseberries are very soft. Whether fresh or thawed, press through a sieve. Add the sugar, and a little more water if the drizzle seems too thick. Reheat just before serving and either drizzle over each slice when serving, or present in a small, warmed gravy boat.

 To Assemble the Loaf:

  1. Roll the pastry out to a rectangle about the depth of a pound coin. Trim the edges neatly with a sharp knife.
  2. Arrange the stuffing log along the centre, parallel with the longer sides, stopping 6cm from each end.
  3. Press the filling mixture gently around the stuffing, to enclose it completely except at the ends.
  4. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the remaining egg, and draw the long edges together, pinching to seal them.
  5. Grease a large baking sheet, or line with parchment, then place the loaf carefully onto it, with the join on the underside. Any pastry scraps could be used to decorate with shapes, stuck on with a drop of egg. Brush the whole loaf with the remaining egg.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown all over.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes before placing on a dish (oval or oblong if available) and taking to the table to carve. Best to use a sharp carving or bread knife to preserve the shape of the slices.

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