It's very much time to crank the oven and warm up the kitchen, so I pulled out Wrapped in Pastry over the long weekend and invited rad relly Carol over for dinner, wine and a movie. This pâté en croûte was Michael's favourite of the recipes we tested for the book (and I made sure there was enough to share with him when he returned home).
Instead of fatty minced meat, this French-style vegan pastry loaf is full of mushrooms, lentils and herbs. Contrary to the whole winter-warming intention, it's actually supposed to be eaten at room temperature. I cheated and sloppily sliced steaming sections for Carol's and my dinner, then popped the remainder in the fridge. It certainly makes for more presentable, self-supporting slices in its traditional morning-after form (see photo above).
I couldn't track down tarragon on the fly and so my loaf came across a little strong on the sage, but not so's anyone else complained. You could doubtless tinker with the fresh herbs to suit your own tastes, just so long as you use lots of 'em! Along with some lemon zest they supply important top notes to a dish that could otherwise descend into brown stodginess.
Pâté en croûte
(adapted very slightly from a recipe in
Leigh Drew's Wrapped In Pastry)
lemon mushroom mousse
3 cups button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely chopped
1/3 cup chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced into half moons
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cans brown lentils, drained
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh parsley, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
4 sheets puff pastry, frozen
Use a food processor to grind the mushrooms to a fine mince. Heat the oil in a frypan and add the mushrooms, sauteing until the mushrooms release their juices and they have mostly evaporated, about 10 minutes. Take the mushrooms off the heat and stir in the lemon zest, chives and salt. Transfer the mushroom mousse to another container to cool.
Return the frypan to low heat and add the oil for the lentil pâté. Add the onions and saute them until thoroughly softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the pepper and garlic and saute the onion mixture for a further 5 minutes. Allow the onions to cool down.
When the onions are near room temperature, place them in the food processor with the 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and puree them thoroughly. Add the lentils and blend again until smooth. Fit as much of the sage and parsley in as you can and keep blending until all the herbs are blended into the lentil pâté. Sprinkle over the yeast flakes and remaining red wine vinegar for a final thorough blend.
Preheat an oven to 200°C. Defrost the puff pastry sheets. Line two loaf pans with baking paper.
When the pastry sheets are ready and completely flexible, use them to line the loaf pans. Leave lots of pastry overhanging the edges to fold over the top later. Spoon one quarter of the lemon mushroom mousse into the bottom of a pastry-lined loaf tin, smoothing it across the base, and repeat with another quarter of the mixture in the other tin. Divide the lentil pâté evenly between the tins and spread it evenly. Spread the remaining mushroom mousse equally over the two pâté loaves. Fold the overhanging pastry across the filling and seal up the pâté en croûtes.
Bake the loaves until the pastry is cooked through, up to 45 minutes. Keep an eye on them and cover the tins with foil if the pastry looks at risk of burning. Allow the loaves to cool to room temperature, or even refrigerate them overnight, before turning them out of the tins and serving them in thick slices.