Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Quorn Fillets in Vermouth with Tarragon & Creme Fraiche

Serves 2, takes about 30 minutes (plus thawing if frozen). Easy recipe. From calorie-counting sites, this comes out at about 320 cals per serving, mainly because of the oil and creme fraiche. The latter could be replaced by yogurt for a lower count.

Not everyone likes to eat vegetarian food that looks like meat, and interestingly, Quorn are now calling their fillets 'Chicken Fillets' - it's Vegetarian Society approved though, and I guess they get away with it by making this clear on the front of the pack.

I've been a fan of Quorn for some time, in fact since they changed to free-range eggs in order to get Veg Soc approval for the whole range, and more customers. It's not that they look like meat - and have similar texture - but that they are enjoyable in their own right and, especially, versatile.

When we go to have lunch with rellies where we all have different likes, each of us chooses a meal and brings it to the occasion. I devised this recipe for mine and everyone commented how luscious it looked; I'm sure I had the best deal! But for the reason why there's no pic of the finished dish, see below ...

The quantity serves two, but of course can easily be doubled or - as in my lunch - halved! With this method, the cook needs to be on hand all the time, but if there's a need to leave the kitchen for a while, the recipe could be made up from steps 1 to 5 inclusive, and the food placed in a shallow oven dish and left in a moderate oven (say 150C) to finish cooking  for 15 minutes, with the creme fraiche added just before serving.

Quorn Fillets in Vermouth with Tarragon & Creme Fraiche
2 tbsp oil
4 Quorn fillets
half a leek, trimmed & finely sliced
75g mushrooms (about 6 medium), wiped & stalks trimmed, coarsely sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon (leaves only) or 1 good tsp dried
75 ml white vermouth (preferably dry)
150 ml hot vegetarian stock (e.g. scant tsp bouillon powder)
100ml creme fraiche

1  Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a medium pan, medium heat, then saute the fillets gently
        for 5 mins, turning once during cooking, so that they are lightly browned.
2  Remove the fillets from the pan, add the remaining oil and saute the leeks for
        4-5 minutes, stirring at times, until starting to brown.
3  Add the mushrooms and saute gently for 2 mins, stirring at least once.
4  Return the fillets to the pan with the tarragon & vermouth, and cook 5 more mins.
5  Stir in the stock.
6  Simmer for 5-7 mins more, then stir in the creme fraiche to thicken the sauce
        just before serving. Place two fillets on each plate and spoon the sauce over.

A medium onion could be used instead of leek. Dry sherry would work instead of vermouth, or this could be omitted and the volume of stock increased a little. Tarragon is the business here, but otherwise thyme leaves, coriander or parsley could stand in.

Suggest new or 'baby' potatoes and whole French beans. Rice at a pinch. To accompany, dry white wine, cider or apple juice.

Fessing Up!
When I rustled this up for the rellie meal, I forgot to take its picture, although it looked very appetising. Then, for the same purpose, made it again a few days later; remembered to have the camera at the ready, took the picture - sauce dark and forbidding since I'd forgotten to stir in the creme fraiche (which makes it paler and a better background for the fillets). Could my word do for this? 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Mushroom, Leek & Goat Cheese Mille Feuilles

Those who love desserts will know that 'mille feuilles' is French for 'a thousand leaves', so called as it's usually made with sweet stuff sandwiched between layers of puff pastry. My recipe here is a savoury version, and for me it's a keeper. I made two individual servings, but for any more than that it would be better to make one long piece and carve with a very sharp knife to serve.

Each ingredient can be prepared in advance, but otherwise, once the pastry is thawed, the whole thing could be done from start to serving in about an hour. The extra in the picture is smashed roasted baby potatoes - the potatoes are simmered for about 5 minutes, then drained and crushed a little (e.g. with the end of a rolling pin) before placing in an oiled tin and putting in the oven about 15 minutes before the pastry goes in.

To toast flaked almonds, warm a small pan and dry fry them for 3-4 mins, stirring often to prevent burning.

Mushroom, Leek & Goat Cheese Mille Feuilles - serves 2 but easily increased.

The pastry should be thawed in the fridge for a few hours. The oven needs to be at just under 200C; suggest turning it on once the filling ingredients are individually prepared and before rolling out the pastry. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

About 130g frozen puff pastry, thawed (if from a frozen rolled sheet, cut a piece about 12cm long)
few drops of milk
1 tbsp oil
1 small leek, trimmed and finely sliced
80g mushrooms (approx 4 medium) trimmed and finely sliced
40g soft goat cheese (about 4cm from a log), sliced into four
1 good tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or parsley/coriander)
2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

1  If using part of a sheet of pastry, open out the strip and roll out gently to be just a little longer and wider. 
    Cut evenly crossways into six pieces.
    If using a block, roll out thinly to a strip around 24 cm x 12cm, then halve lengthwise and cut each strip
    crossways into three pieces. Place on the baking sheet and brush lightly with milk.

2  Put the pastry pieces in to bake for 15 minutes. When they're puffed and golden, remove from the oven
    but don't turn it off yet.

3  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium pan and saute the leek for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add
    the mushrooms and thyme and saute for a further 5 mins. Add the goat cheese, almonds and a good
    pinch of pepper and mix well.

4  To build the mille feuilles, press down lightly on four of the cooked pieces, keeping the other two as they 
    are for the tops. Divide half of the filling between two of the flattened pastry pieces and cover them with 
    the other two. Spread the remaining filling over these and top them with the remaining two, pressing down
    gently but without breaking the puffiness.

5  Return to the oven for 5 minutes to heat through.

And there you have it. Substitutions can be made for the filling, e.g. onions for the leek, cream cheese for goats, chopped walnuts or hazels instead of almonds. For glamour, the mushrooms could have a splash of sherry, brandy or vermouth in which to simmer until the liquid is reduced. Shredded spinach could be added to the pan with the mushrooms. A hot vegetable of choice would be right for this, and a light wine would do justice, perhaps a dry white.

I'm thinking this would make a good vegetarian main for Christmas lunch, with preps done earlier, though it needs attention for the last 20 minutes. The ingredients could also be transported easily if the cook should be working in someone else's kitchen!