Hello I am back from my Canada travels, post on that incoming where I get to rub everything I did in your faces and complain about jet lag.
Before I left I was contacted by Curds & Croust who were launching their latest cheese in their new range. After a great start, they have come up with Russet Squire, a gorgeous soft, boxed cheese that has been washed in West Country Cider. Can’t say more West Country than that! They wanted some recipe ideas and I was absolutely down for helping.
The cheese itself is wonderfully runny when baked with a full, punchy flavour that is complemented by the acidic, cider washed rind which really elevates anything sweet. Of course, I popped some of this bad boy in a toastie with plenty of chutney and ham and tried it baked in its box studded with garlic, thyme and heaped on chunky bread with a drizzle of honey but for me, that wasn’t exciting enough.
So I did some Googling and found my muse, the Cheese Wellington! Despite my campaign to stop portobello mushrooms being used as meat substitutes (the veggie community deserves better, pals) this recipe really utilises them properly as well as a few other varieties of the humble shroom. I even made my own rough puff pastry for this as the recent snowfall seems to have cleared the shop shelves of ready-made pastry. This version by Mr G. Ramsey is easy and ready in an hour tops, so give it a go. No mixer required.
This recipe will feed one greedy person or two with substantial sides
200g puff pastry
1 medium-sized Portobello mushrooms
1/2tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
7g (½oz) dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
50g (7oz) button mushrooms (Shiitake will also work well here), finely chopped
few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Large handful of spinach, large stalks removed
squeeze lemon juice
One wheel of Russet Squire Cheese
1 small free-range egg, beaten
Pre-heat oven to 180c
Using the cheese box as a guide, cut a circle out of your pastry that is around 1 – 1.5 inches larger and pop into the oven to brown, around 15 minutes. Remove the pastry and set aside to cool.
Put a pan on a medium heat and add a splash of oil and a knob of butter. Once warmed up add your portabello Mushroom to cook on both sides. Once browned take the pan off the heat and put the mushroom on some kitchen towel to soak up any excess moisture.
Take your dried mushrooms and soak in boiling water for around 10 minutes. In the meant time chop your onion, garlic and button mushrooms finely and remove the leaves from the thyme stalks.
Place the pan back on the heat and add more oil and butter to the pan. Slowly cook down the onion and button mushrooms. Drain the soaked mushrooms, chop and add those to the pan. Add the thyme, garlic and seasoning and carry on cooking for around 15 minutes until the mixture is slightly sticky and all the moisture has cooked off. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
Pop the spinach in a strainer and pour boiling water over it to wilt. Give it a good shake to remove as much water as possible and dry on kitchen towel. Once excess water is removed, pop onto a chopping board, season, give it a good squeeze of lemon and chop up.
Grab the pastry bottom and leaving a good inch of outside space, layer on the spinach first, then 2/3 of the chopped mushroom mix. Add your Russet Squire cheese and then layer the rest of the chopped mix on the top. Finally, add the portabello mushroom and marvel at your tower of delight. Egg wash the edge of the base.
Take the rest of your pastry and lay over the top. Make it nice and snug, check for holes and use a fork to press the top pastry into the base pastry and then egg wash the entire thing. Decorate if you like with some pastry leaves on top.
Make sure to place some greaseproof paper on the baking tray as the cheese will melt and leak and place in the oven for around 20 – 25 mins or until the top is browned.
Let the Wellington cool for a few minutes before serving and watch that cheese oooooze.