The occasional kitchen flop can sometimes be a blessing in disguise on several fronts. Most likely it helps to ensure that the same mistake won’t be made again in the future… and it can also serve to get those creative juices working to find ways of improving upon a particular recipe that didn’t turn out so well.
I recently made a batch of Nigel Slater’s ‘Tarts of leeks and cheese’, which sounded delicious, bringing together one of my very favourite vegetables with little cubes of Taleggio cheese. What could go wrong? All was going swimmingly, until I peered at my little tarts in the oven to find this…
Mr Slater had made the declaration in his recipe that “there is no need to press down to seal the edges, though you can if you want”. I decided (going against gut feeling) to trust him on this and hoped very much that my pastries would turn out as beautifully puffed as shown in his accompanying photo. Hmmm, no… it created crazy concertina-like creatures that seemed to be quite creepily invading my oven.
Anyway, my technique in the following recipe has been revised and modifications to the ingredients used as well. The Taleggio was too sweet for my liking, so I’ve replaced this with Gruyère and then I’ve also brought in some mushrooms, mustard and thyme to ramp up the overall flavour. A fabulous little appetiser to go with pre-dinner drinks or perhaps a great addition to a brunch spread with friends.
Leek, Mushroom & Gruyère Pastries | Gather and Graze
- 45g (3 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
- 150g (1 Medium) Leek (sliced, white and pale green parts only)
- 100g (3-4) Swiss Brown/Cremini Mushrooms (sliced thinly)
- Salt and Black Pepper
- 2 Teaspoons Wholegrain Mustard
- 50g (1/2 Cup) Gruyère Cheese (grated)
- 1-2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme (leaves removed from the stems and roughly chopped)
- 375g (All Butter) Puff Pastry
- 1 Free-Range Egg (beaten with a teaspoon of water to make an egg-wash)
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/ and set aside a mini-muffin tin.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sliced leek, along with a pinch of salt and allow to sweat gently with the lid on until softened. Check from time to time with a quick stir to make sure that the leek isn’t catching on the base. Remove the lid and continue cooking to allow any excess moisture to evaporate. Using a slotted spoon, remove the leek to a small mixing bowl and set aside for the moment.
Add the extra tablespoon of butter to the same saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until they start to turn a beautiful golden brown colour. Remove from the heat and add the mushrooms to the leek in the mixing bowl.
Season the leek and mushroom mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir in the wholegrain mustard, grated cheese and thyme leaves. Allow to cool a little, while you prepare the puff pastry.
Roll out the pastry to a rectangle (about the same size as the mini muffin tray) and cut into 12 equal sized squares. Lay each square over the holes of the mini muffin tray and scoop a dessertspoonful of mixture onto the top of each. Fold in the 4 corners to join in the middle and lightly brush each pastry with egg-wash.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool, before serving either warm or at room temperature. A little home-made relish/chutney alongside would go perfectly!