Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A Blast from the Past

I always enjoy observing the adventures that other people take on. Twitter is an amazing place to keep tack of the trials and tribulations of others. And one of the people I follow Laoise aka Cuisine Genie is currently having the adventure of a lifetime at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London.

Last week she tweeted that they were learning about pithivier. This was such a blast from the past for me. While I have eaten pithivier a few times over the last few years I haven't made pithivier since I was in college.

So Pithivier is the most delicious  puff pastry pie that can be either sweet or savoury and it originates from a place in France.  It has a lovely distinctive sundial on the top of it. On Saturday evening I set about making a lovely savoury pithivier which I hope you get a chance to try and enjoy.

Beef Pithivier with a Wild Mushroom Jus


400g  Beef Fillet in a 1cm dice.
1        Large Onion diced.
150g  Mushroom selection diced (I used a mix of chanterelle, oyster and chestnut)
 2tbsp Olive oil
3tbsp Brandy
2tbsp Sour cream.
1 tsp  Chopped fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper

2lbs Puff pastry - you can make it or buy it depending on the time available to you.

For the jus:

200 mls red wine
2     tbsp balsamic vinegar
50g dried wild mushroom soaked for 20 minutes in 50 ml  warm water
200 mls Beef Stock
1     sprig of thyme
2     tbsp brown sugar
       knob of butter

For the pithivier:

To prepare the pithivier sauté the large onion for a couple of minutes in the oil but do not allow to colour too much. Add the beef fillet and sear well. Then add the mushrooms and allow them to cook until just soft.
Add the brandy and flambé to burn off the alcohol. Finally add the sour cream and sitr. Allow the mixture to thicken and the cream to reduce for a few minutes because you don't want the mixture to be too wet.
Allow the filling to cool completely as if it is warm it will melt the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Roll out the pastry. I just did 500g at a time. When you have it rolled out to about 3 mm no thinner cut out 2 x 6" discs and 2 x  4"discs. Do the same with the other 500g of pastry. Keep the trimmings for something else.

Lay out the 4 4"discs. Divide the filling between the four discs making sure to leave an outer rim of about 1 cm and stack the filling so that you will have a nice dome shape. Brush the rim with egg wash and put the 6" lid on. seal the edges by pinching them together so that you get a nice 'frill'. Place the 4 completed pithivier on a baking tray. Score the top so that it looks like sunrays (see pic). Brush with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes.

For the jus:

Put the wine and vinegar into a hot pot and allow to reduce by half. Then add the stock, chopped mushrooms, water and sugar and thyme an allow to reduce again by about half. It should have started to get syrupy. Finally whisk in the butter to give the sauce a nice shine.

I served this with some lovely cep mash with cep oil that I got from Ballyhoura Mushrooms and some green beans.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

End of Chapter One.

Five years ago a friend asked me if I would like to take part in a Christmas craft fair selling some of my chutneys and jams. I had never thought about doing anything like this before and so I jumped at the chance.

That evening I met a few stallholders from our local farmers market where I was also a customer and one thing led to another and it was decided :- I was going to take a stall. Low and behold shortly afterwards I fell off the second last step of the stairs and broke my wrist.

By the time I was able to drive and work in the kitchen again another lady had started selling jams. So I resigned myself to making chutneys, relishes, dressings and pates. It was so exciting to experience selling my own produce and to get compliments about what I was doing.

A couple of months after I had taken my stall the cheese lady - Mary - told me she was leaving. I jumped at the chance of taking on the cheese stall having had a long obsession with all things cheesy.
This is when "The Cheeseboard" began.

The last few years have enriched my life and that of my families hugely. My children have seen hands on trading - learning rapidly about the connection between hard work and earning money.
I have met a vast array of people from the community and have become a  member of my local community in a way that can often take a "blow in" decades!!!
I have made an incredible amount of friends which has brought many happy occasions to our lives and I've even bought an 'oul dress or two along the way !!

However over the last few months I've been yearning for a change.  I need a new challenge.

And so .....

Today was my last day as a stallholder in Gorey Farmers Market. I say this with a certain amount of melancholy but also with great expectations of other things to come......

I am thrilled to say I am handing over the reigns to a now ex- customer but still a very firm friend Aidan Clince. I can only hope the stall brings him the same amount of happiness that it has brought me over the past  few years.

And me .... Chapter 2 starts today. First I'm going back to college (again) to do a Maths degree and concurrently I have plans to formulate for my new (ad)venture.

In the meantime I'll still be cooking, eating and reading about food and bringing you an ocassional recipe.

Always  "The Cheeseboard" Gwen xxx