Cheese Choux Pastries Filled with Mushrooms in Madeira
This is definitely a recipe that would serve two vegetarians handsomely at the Christmas lunch table.
The three different kinds of mushroom are cooked very slowly in Madeira and then sandwiched between light cheese choux pastry. A good accompaniment would be a salad of mixed leaves, watercress and orange segments, dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Christmas. Serves 2
You can make the filling for this and the raw choux pastry the day before, if you care to, as they can be assembled and cooked later without any ill-effects.
So for the filling: put the dried mushrooms in a jug and cover them with 3 fl oz (75 ml) hot water, then leave them to soak for 30 minutes.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan and soften the chopped onions and garlic in it till pale gold (about 5 minutes). Then stir in all the fresh mushrooms, followed by the soaked mushrooms (snipped a bit with a pair of scissors if they're large) together with their soaking water.
Season with salt and pepper and add the thyme and a few good gratings of nutmeg.
Now pour in the Madeira, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and let the mushrooms cook as slowly as possible for 1½ hours: the liquid should barely simmer, and you should check it from time to time to make sure it hasn't evaporated.
When you are ready to make the choux pastries put 5 fl oz (150 ml) cold water in a medium-sized saucepan together with the pieces of butter, and leave it on one side while you weigh out the flour.
Since you are going to need to 'shoot' the flour quickly into the water and melted butter, fold a sheet of greaseproof paper to make a crease, then open it up again.
Sift the flour straight on to the square of greaseproof paper and season it with salt and pepper.
Now place the saucepan of water and butter over a moderate heat, and stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture comes up to the boil, turn the heat off immediately, then tip the flour in (all in one go) with one hand while you beat the mixture vigorously with the other (you can do this with a wooden spoon, though an electric hand whisk would be much easier).
Beat until you have a smooth ball of paste that has left the sides of the pan clean (probably less than 1 minute), then beat the beaten eggs in, a little at a time, mixing each addition in thoroughly before adding the next, until you have a smooth glossy paste.
Then add 2 oz (50 g) of the grated cheese, the mustard powder and a seasoning of salt and cayenne.
Next grease a good solid baking sheet and take heaped teaspoonfuls of the choux pastry and stack them closely together to form two circles roughly 5½ inches (14 cm) in diameter.
Brush each ring with beaten egg, then sprinkle them with the rest of the cheese.
Place them on a high shelf of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
After that raise the temperature to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C), and continue baking for 20 minutes.
When the choux pastries are cooked, slit them in half horizontally. Stir the cream into the mushroom filling, then divide this between the two choux halves.
Place the other two halves on top, put a few sprigs of watercress in the centre of each for colour, and serve as soon as possible.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).