Thursday, 26 May 2011

M is for... mushroom and miso millefeuille

We use a lot of miso in our gaff. We have a running joke that when a dish is missing that uncertain "something" or just doesn't have enough oomph, Richard will inevitably respond with, "maybe stick a bit of miso in it?". And often we do. Aside from miso soup, it's a great way to add depth to other soups, stews and stocks and makes a particularly delicious marriage with mushrooms. Already high in umami, mushrooms become even more intense in flavour when they soak up a good slurp of umami-rich miso.

Millefeuilles are traditionally made up of three layers of puff pastry and usually contain a sweet filling such as vanilla crème pâtissière. I decided that three layers of puff might be a bit much for my nine course M feast, so left it at two (a shining example of how I rein things in). I made the puff pastry from scratch, which people seem to think is a feat of incredible alchemy. It really isn't. Yes, it does take some time, so it's definitely not something to attempt to knock up if you're making a 30 minute meal. But then, all home made pastries take a little time.  Yes, puff is a slow process, but not because any stage is particularly difficult or demanding, it's just that you keep having to leave it to rest in the fridge in between each roll, so that the butter doesn't soften and the pastry has time to relax. What's wrong with that? It just means you have time to get on with other things in between. It's really no different from having to wait for bread dough to prove. The real trick is to make sure you use the same weight of cold butter as you do flour.  It is for the sake of your arteries that puff pastry should be excluded as a staple of your everyday diet rather than for its difficulty rating. So go on, try your hand at making your own batch. Just don't do it too often.

Puff pastry

500g (1lb 2oz) plain flour
500g (1lb 2oz) chilled unsalted butter
A pinch of salt
The juice of half a lemon (sifted)
7-10 fl.oz (200-285ml) fridge-cold water

  1. Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Pour the lemon juice into the water and pour most of the lemon-y water into the flour and use your hands to mix together to form a firm dough, adding more water if necessary. This dough is called détrempe
  2. Flatten the détrempe, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
  3. Roll the détrempe into a neat rectangle about 1/2 inch thick
  4. Place both packets of butter in a plastic sandwich/freezer bag and, using a rolling pin, "rib roll" the butter - this basically means bashing the butter to flatten it slightly in close together sections going up the butter so it looks like the butter has "ribs". Now bash the butter flat so you have one solid flat rectangular slab which is about 3/4 inch thick.
  5. Place the slab of butter in the centre of your détrempe rectangle and fold the edges of the dough over the edges of the butter so you are left with a neat parcel.
  6. Dust flour over the worktop/ table and turn the dough over on to the floured surface. Dust some flour over the top of the dough and gently roll the dough into a neat rectangle about 16" in length and 8" wide. 
  7. Position the dough so that one of the narrow ends (8") is facing you. Brush off the excess flour and fold the dough into three - just like when you are folding an A4 letter to fit into an envelope. Fold the top section, the one furthest away from you, first and then fold the bottom section up to meet it.
  8. Seal the edges together with your fingers.
  9. Dust the work surface with more flour and turn the dough 90 degrees so that the folds are running vertically in front of you.
  10. Roll the pastry once again into a neat rectangle 16" x 8" in size.
  11. Brush off any excess flour and fold in three again, just as before.
  12. Seal the edges with your fingers and wrap the dough in cling film and pop it back in the fridge for at least half an hour to rest.
  13. Repeat stages 6 to 12 twice more always ensuring that you start with the folds in the pastry running vertically in front of you and that you leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour between each roll. In the end your dough will have been rolled out 6 times and rested in the fridge 3 times.
  14. Let the puff pastry rest in the fridge for at least an hour before using. You can make the pastry the day before if you like.

Mushroom and miso millefeuille

1k of mixed mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2-3tbsp white miso 
250 ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Puff pastry
Egg wash (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC Fan)

Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft then add the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until they are soft and golden - this will take about 20 minutes or so. Add the miso and stir through the mushrooms until it has completely dissolved, then pour over the stock and leave to simmer until the sauce is thick but not dry. Season to taste.

In the meantime, roll the puff pastry out so it is approximately 1/2 inch thick and cut into 16 even rectangles about 6" x 3" in size. Score the rectangles gently with the tip of a knife into diamond shapes. You can lightly egg wash the pastry if you like at this stage. Place the rectangles on a large baking parchment-lined baking tray and pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry has risen and is golden.

Once ready, layer up the warm mushroom and miso mixture and puff pastry together in the centre of warm plates, so that you end with pastry on top, and serve.

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