Monday, December 14, 2009
It has been a busy week. Not busy working but accompanying relatives who came to visit. It was their first trip to Bangkok and that made it special. Took this task seriously because I really wanted them to have a good time during their stay.
The comforting part is that they did enjoy their trip - they had spreaded good words to other relatives. They praised the delicious Thai food they ate, the safety they felt, the places where they went, and the friendly people they encountered. On their last day here, I invited them to come again during Thai New Year next year. They seemed to be very enthusiastic. And I really wished they would come again.
Being with them made me feel how much I needed this family connection every now and then. They were so easy to talk to and so many untold family stories were shared. Just as much as they enjoyed their stay here, I enjoyed their companion too. Now they have gone, I missed them already.
Meanwhile, the challenge was going to due. I had to do something about it. Salmon was not really my thing so I thought of having mushrooms instead. Lots of mushrooms, carrots, onions, parsley, and potatoes. So here it is ... my Mushroom en Croute.
Thanks to Simone of Junglefrog Cooking for this wonderful challenge. The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.
I have made some adjustments to the recipe and quoted some pastry making techniques from Audax of Audax Artifex. Original recipe could be found here
MUSHROOM EN CROUTE
Makes 3, size 12.5cm x 12,5 cm parcels
1. Mushroom Filling
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- Vegetable oil > 2 tablespoons
- Big onion – chop > 1
- Carrots – cut into cubes > 200 grams
- Potato – cut into cubes > 185 grams
- Oyster sauce > 2 tablespoons
- Soya sauce > 3 tablespoons
- Granulated sugar > 3 tablespoons
- Straw mushrooms – slice into thick chunks > 400 grams
- Corn flour > 2 tablespoons
- Water > 2 tablespoons
- Parsley – chop > 30 grams
- Red chilies – chop > 5
- Mix corn flour and water. Set aside.
- Saute onion in vegetable oil until fragrant. Add carrots and potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add seasoning – oyster sauce, soya sauce and sugar. Stir to incorporate well.
- Add straw mushrooms, then parsley. Stir occasionally.
- Pour in corn flour mixture. Cook until it is thick.
- Add red chilies.
- Remove from fire. Cool. Refrigerate until it is ready to use.
2. Spinach Puree (Optional)
- Spinach – use only leaves > 60 grams
- Cheese cream > 75 grams
- In a food processor, mix spinach and cheese cream and whiz to get creamy green puree. Set aside until ready to use.
3. Shortcut Pastry
- All purpose flour > 450 grams
- Very cold butter > 200 grams
- Salt > 1 pinch
- Egg yolk > 1
- Water > 2 tablespoons
- More water > if necessary.
- Mix egg yolk and water. The result will be about 3 tablespoons of liquid.
- Grate cold butter block straight from the fridge with large-hole grater. Put back in fridge.
- Sift flour from the height into a mixing bowl to allow air to be incorporated into the mixture and this trapped air will make pastry light. Place the bowl in the freezer for a while.
- When the mixing bowl is cold enough, take out from freezer and incorporate grated butter to the flour. Use food processor as the first option. Avoid direct contact of heat to the flour and butter (if necessary, soak hands in iced water). For easy option, use folk and spoon, rub butter into flour until the mixture resembles pea-sized lumps. Stop tossing and mixing immediately. Small pieces of butter should show. Don’t use hand to rub cause the butter will melt. The idea is to have separate particles of butter coating the flour to produce flakiest pastry. You are doing right if upon dipping your hand into the mixture, your hand comes out without the smell of butter.
- Fold in salt and egg yolk mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and keep mixing with folk and spoon (if hands are used, make sure you soak your hands in iced water first) until it forms a cohesive and slightly sticky dough. Avoid too much water. If it is still too dry add more water. To test whether the dough has enough water: pick up a small clump of dough and gently squeeze. Stop when the dough sticks together with small dry cracks. Perfect shortcut pastry is supposed to be crumbly and dry. Do not knead the dough to smooth. Gather the dough pieces, form into a disk, cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
- Mushroom filling > 1 portion
- Coarse sea salt > 1/2 teaspoon
- Dried chilly powder > 1 teaspoon
- Egg yolk for brushing – beat moderately > 1
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 175C.
- Take out dough from refrigerator. Divide dough into 3 portions. Work on 1 portion while keeping the other 2 portions chilled.
- Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of plastic into a rectangular area of approximately 31cm x 19cm with the thickness about 2 to 2.5mm. It should look like the butter is not distributed evenly. Chill for a short while before filling.
- Put mushroom filling in the middle within an area of 11.5cm x 11.5cm. Stack it up to a thickness of 2.5 to 3cm. Top with adequate amount of spinach puree (if used). Brush the surrounding area with egg yolk. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon of chilly powder. Fold the top and bottom ends into the middle, one overlapping the other. Then fold the left and right ends and tuck them up neatly to form a parcel.
- Place the parcel upside down on the baking tray, with the folding portion hidden at the bottom.
- Brush the entire surface and sides with egg yolk. Score surface with diagonal lines using the back of a knife. Poke the tip of the knife into the sides to form tiny cuts to allow steam to escape.
- Sprinkle with the rest of sea salt and chilly powder.
- Repeat the steps and complete 2 more parcels.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Place tray close to the top fire and bake for 10 minutes more.
- Serve with the rest of the spinach puree as the sauce.