Wild Mushroom Vol-au-vents

I always look out for wild mushrooms at this time of year, as they are so good and abundantly available.  I wouldn’t ever go foraging on my own, despite owning several mushroom books, as I don’t have enough knowledge, but I’d definitely be up for an organised foray with an expert.

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I picked up some really nice wild mushrooms early this morning at the market. My selection included oyster, shiitake, maitake and a few field mushrooms, but creamed mushrooms would be good with any selection of fresh, earthy wild mushrooms.

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I think its best to eat mushrooms as soon as possible, they go slimy and pretty nasty if you keep them for too long.  I don’t like to leave them wrapped in plastic either, a paper bag or basket is best.

I made creamed mushrooms with my batch and mushrooms on toast is the perfect quick supper for this time of year.

Wild mushrooms

With the rest of the mushrooms, I decided to make retro mushroom vol-au-vents.  My prawn and avocado vol-au-vents recipe is actually my most viewed post, so I thought I would have to do the other vol-au-vents that I remember from the family Christmas parties from all those years ago.

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The mushroom vol-au-vents were one of the first things to go from the buffet table (unlike my poor Grandma’s prawn ones).  They were always made from those creamed button mushrooms from a can and placed into frozen pastry cases.  I was never a fan, but I thought it was time to bring back the retro mushroom vol-au-vent and use fresh, wild mushrooms, thyme and home made cases (I did buy the ready-made puff pastry though!)  The result was a really nice, seasonal treat that makes the most of the wild mushrooms that are around right now, but would also be great on a Christmas buffet table as a tasty nostalgic reminder.

Mushroom vol au vents

Ingredients:
A selection of wild mushrooms – I used two punnets
Knob of butter and a little splash of olive oil
1 onion or a couple of shallots, finely chopped
Small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
1tsp Dijon mustard
2-3tbs cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sheets of puff pastry, or you could use frozen cases
1 egg, beaten

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F
Cut out the bases for the vol-au-vents and place on a lined baking sheet or parchment.  I got 12 bases from one sheet.  Then cut out another 12 from the second sheet of pastry and cut holes out of the second set with a smaller cutter.

Brush the bases with beaten egg and place the rings onto the bases.  If the pastry warms up and becomes difficult to handle, place it in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm it up.

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Brush the tops with the egg and bake for 12-15 minutes or until they are golden, crisp and all puffed up.  You can also brush the ‘holes’ with egg and bake those alongside the pastry cases.  Leave on a cooling rack while you make the filling.

Tear up the mushrooms or roughly chop and strip the thyme leaves from the stems if they are woody and give them a chop too.

Heat the butter and oil until foamy and add in the finely chopped onion with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  When they are translucent, add in 1-2tsp of thyme leaves and then the mushrooms.  Cook them until they are nice and golden and then stir through a little cream and check the seasoning.

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At this point, you can serve the creamed mushrooms on some toasted, buttered sourdough, or fill the vol-au-vents.  I had enough for both!

Mushrooms on toast

For the vol-au-vents, I simply press down the centre that rises up as they bake (I don’t bother docking the raw pastry with a fork) and fill with the creamed mushrooms, sprinkle over a little more thyme leaves.

Serve as a canapé with or without the lids depending on how retro you want to be!

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These are really good in a larger pastry case too, served with a green salad as a first course or a light lunch.

Apple Hand Pies

The welcome arrival of September (and my very favourite season) also means the arrival of apple season.  We have a tree full of apples to use in the garden and one of my family’s favourite things is apple pie.

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These are little hand pies and they are just the thing to have on hand for hungry children.  They are portable too, so great to take with you on a trip to the park or to work.

Apples are available all year round, but it’s really worth looking out for the new seasonal arrivals that have been grown locally, to enjoy apple season to the full.

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Crust:
375g plain/all-purpose flour
165g butter, cut into cubes and refrigerated
2tbs sugar
1tsp salt
Iced water
1 egg and a little milk to make a wash

Filling:
2 crisp dessert apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
Juice from half a lemon
3tbs sugar
2tsp cornflour
1tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2tsp salt
10 soft caramels (like Werther’s) cut into tiny pieces (optional)

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Method:
Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt into a food processor, fitted with the steel blade and pulse until crumbly, with pieces of butter still visible.

Then add one tablespoon of the iced water at a time, pulsing until the dough just comes together – around 4-5 should be enough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, cut in half and pat each half into a disc.  Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

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For the filling, place the apples into a large bowl and toss them with the juice from the lemon so they don’t turn brown. Then add the sugar, salt, spices and cornflour and turn to coat.

Leaving one batch of dough in the fridge, roll out the first batch evenly on a lightly floured board and cut out circles for the bases (using a cutter measuring approximately 7.5cm/3 inches).  Place them onto a lined baking sheet, re-rolling until most of the dough is used up.  Refrigerate any scraps.

Then place a small, heaping amount of the apple mixture into the centre of each one and top with a few caramel pieces if using.  Take care to leave a gap around the edge.

Caramel apple hand pies

Roll out the rest of the dough and cut out the same number of circles, but use a slightly larger cutter.  Use up the scraps of the first batch if needed.

Brush the pastry bases around the apples with the egg wash and place the remaining pastry circles over the filling.  Crimp and seal the edges together using a fork, dipped in flour to stop it sticking.

When they all have their lids, it is important to chill the pies before baking.  Leave them in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.  This helps stop the pastry shrinking and bursting open in the oven.  They can also be frozen at this point too.

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Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F

When you are ready to bake, brush the tops with the egg wash and cut little vents in the lids to allow steam to escape.  You can also sprinkle with a little extra sugar too.

Bake for around 20 minutes or until the pies are golden and cooked through.

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These are the perfect after school treat, but a personal pie is good at any time and these can be taken on a picnic, or placed into a lunchbox too.

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Sage Derby and Onion Buttermilk Scones

Using buttermilk in scones results in a really moist, tender and flaky texture that makes these a really delicious treat.  So often, scones can be dry and crumby – especially ones that you buy and even with butter, they really aren’t very good. Home made ones are always better and they are so easy to make.

Sage Derby Scones

These are filled with sweet caramelised onions, cubes of Sage Derby cheese and topped with a little Gruyere cheese and a crispy sage leaf.

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I decided to leave the cheese in cubes, rather than grate it as I wanted there to be little pockets of the Sage Derby inside the individual scones.

Ingredients:
2-3 onions, finely chopped
knob of butter and a splash of olive oil for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g Self-raising flour
70g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
100ml buttermilk, plus extra for brushing the scones
1 (heaped) tsp of English mustard
100g Sage Derby cheese, I used Fowlers – cut into little dice
A little gruyere or cheddar to sprinkle on top of the scones – around 50g
Six sage leaves

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Method:
Start by cooking the onions.  Heat a small knob of butter and a splash of oil in a non-stick pan and gently cook the onions with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cook them low and slow until the have reduced, become sticky and caramelised.  Set aside on some kitchen paper to absorb excess oil and leave to cool completely.

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Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC/425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick liner

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Rub the butter into the flour, either by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  The mixture should look like rough breadcrumbs.

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Mix the mustard in with the buttermilk and then add to the egg.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix briefly, to just combine.  Add the onions and mix again, just so they are incorporated and then stir through the cheese cubes.

Sprinkle a little flour on the parchment or baking liner.  Bring the dough together and place directly onto the liner. Pat the dough out into a disc that is around 1.5 inches/3.5cm thick.

Use a pizza cutter and cut the dough into six wedges and move them away from each other to give them room to expand a little.

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Brush the tops with a little buttermilk and sprinkle with a small amount of grated cheese.

Rub the sage leaves with a tiny amount of olive oil and press onto the top of each scone.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until they have become golden, well risen and sound hollow if you turn them over and give them a little tap.

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Best enjoyed warm with real butter and I like to serve them with chutney.  This one was an apple, date and stout one which worked very well.  Perfect for afternoon tea or an after school treat.