Roquefort Cheese and Apple Strudel with Spiced Pickled Pears
In this strudel I have used two cheeses: Roquefort, which is a sheep’s cheese, and to go with it is a mild goat’s cheese. The apple inside is not meant to cook through but to remain crunchy. This, together with walnuts, leeks and celery, makes a wonderful combination of flavours and textures.
|12 oz (350 g) young leeks weighed after trimming (this will be about 11/2 lb (700g) bought weight)|
|8 oz (225 g) prepared weight of celery (reserve the leaves)|
|1 small Bramley apple|
|1 small Cox’s apple|
|31/2 oz (100 g) pack of chopped walnuts|
|12 spring onions, white parts only, sliced|
|6 oz (175 g) Roquefort cheese, cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes|
|1 x 8 oz (220 g) Somerset goat’s cheese, cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes|
|3 tablespoons parsley|
|4 oz (110 g) butter|
|10 sheets fresh filo pastry|
|1 oz (25 g) white bread, crust removed|
|2 medium cloves garlic, peeled|
|salt and freshly milled black pepper|
|Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375 F, (190 C).|
|Need help with conversions?|
|You will need a large, flat baking sheet approximately 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm).|
First, prepare the leeks by trimming and discarding the outer layers, the slice each one vertically almost in half. Wash them under a cold running tap, fanning them out to get rid of any grit and dust. Then dry them in a cloth and cut them into 1/2 inch (1cm) pieces. Now wash and chop the celery into slightly smaller pieces.
Then melt 11/2 oz (40g) butter in a 9 inch (23 cm) frying pan and keeping the heat at medium, sauté the leeks and celery for about 7-8 minutes until just tinged brown. Stir them and keep them on the move to stop them catching at the edges. Then tip them into a large bowl and while they are cooling you can deal with the other ingredients.
The apples need to be cored and chopped into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces leaving the skins on them. As soon as the leeks and celery have cooled, add the apples, diced goats’ cheese, spring onions, walnuts and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. Then season everything well and stir to combine all together.
Now, you need to make a breadcrumb mixture, and to do this place the bread, garlic, remaining parsley and reserved celery leaves in a food processor. Then switch on and blend until everything resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, grate the bread and chop everything else finely and mix together.
Next, take a large clean tea cloth and dampen it under cold water, lay it out on a work top, then carefully unwrap the filo sheets and lay them on the damp cloth, folding it over. It is important to keep it in the damp cloth to prevent it drying out. To assemble the strudel it is important to understand that it sounds more complicated than it actually is. It is quite difficult to explain, but very easy to do, and only takes a few minutes.
So, begin by placing a buttered baking sheet on a work surface. What I need to explain is that because the filo sheets are too small to make a strudel for 6 people, what we’re going to have to do is weld them together. To do this, first melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan, then take one sheet of filo pastry, remembering to keep the rest covered, and lay it on one end of the baking sheet, brushing it lightly with melted butter. Then place another sheet beside it overlapping it be about 1 inch (2cm), brush that with melted butter. Place a third sheet next to the second, overlapping it again by 1 inch (2cm). Now sprinkle a quarter of the breadcrumb mixture all over the sheets and place 2 more sheets of filo, this time horizontally, brushing the first one with melted butter and welding the other one with a 1 inch (2cm) join; brush that with melted butter and repeat the sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Then place the next 3 sheets as you did the first 3, brushing with butter and sprinkling with breadcrumbs again. Then place the final 2 sheets horizontally brushing with butter. After that place half the cheese and vegetable mixture all the way along the depth of the filo, sprinkle the cubes of Roquefort on top and then finish off with the rest of the mixture.
Now just pat it together firmly with your hands. Take the edge of the pastry that is nearest to you, bring it up over the filling, then flip the whole lot over as if you were making a giant sausage roll. Push the vegetables neatly in at the ends, before tucking the pastry ends neatly underneath. Now brush with the remaining butter, scatter the rest of the crumb mixture over the top, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until it has turned a nice golden brown colour.
To serve, cut the ends off (they’re great for the bird table but not for your guests) and cut into slices giving each person one pear alongside the strudel.
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This unusual pickle looks impressive and tastes wonderful! Serve the pears with cold meats and poultry... they'd go particularly well with gammon or ham, and would make excellent food gifts.
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