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.

Caprese Skewers

For the perfect party food, these skewers are easy to make and serve.  A portable salad on a stick that is not only colourful, but delicious to eat too.

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This is not really a recipe – it’s more of an assembly job – tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, a little seasoning and drizzled with a sweet balsamic glaze.

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I used a ready made balsamic glaze for this that clings to the salad perfectly, but you don’t need to buy it.  For a balsamic reduction, just boil a cup of balsamic vinegar until it has reduced by half.  It will become thicker, a little sticky and coat the back of a spoon.

Caprese skewers

Ingredients:
Small tomatoes – I’ve used a mixture of red and yellow cherry tomatoes and jewel tomatoes that I found at the supermarket
Basil leaves – go for the smaller leaves if possible, or you can fold the extra-large ones around the cheese and tomatoes. I got mine from a living plant as the pre-packed bunches tend to have very large leaves.
1-2 containers of small mozzarella balls (bocconcini)
Balsamic glaze
Italian seasoning with chilli
Salt and pepper to taste
Bamboo or metal skewers – I used 18cm bamboo skewers

Method:
Toss the bocconcini with a sprinkle of the Italian seasoning and then simply thread the tomatoes, mozzarella balls and basil alternately on the skewers.

Sprinkle over freshly ground black pepper and a little salt if desired and drizzle over the balsamic glaze and serve.

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These are so pretty and light for summer entertaining, parties or a barbecue.  Serve with cold white wine, prosecco or a summer punch.

Devilled Eggs with Avocado and Bacon

Devilled eggs are considered rather retro nowadays, but like prawn cocktails, cheeseballs and vol-au-vents, the old recipes are all still really nice and deserve to be dusted off once in a while.

Devilled Eggs

These ones are very simple and have bacon and avocado, but there are many variations to try. The eggs would be perfect for an Easter table, but I think they are good any time of year.

I have a special devilled egg plate that I just bought. I needed to replace my nice egg-shaped one that my husband smashed (allegedly) by accident! He does think I have too many plates though, as if you can have too many plates!

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Ingredients:
6 Eggs – I used extra large
1-2tbs Mayonnaise
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp smoked paprika plus extra for garnish
Pinch of salt and pepper
3 slices of smoked streaky bacon, cooked until crisp, cooled and chopped finely
Small bunch of chives, finely chopped
Half an avocado, cut into small chunks
A little lemon juice to stop the avocado from discolouring

Method:
I have tried various ways of ensuring the yolks are centred, including laying the eggs on their sides overnight, but it doesn’t always work. I find the easiest way is to give each egg a little shake before placing it in the water. Just enough to move the yolk inside the egg – not enough to break it!

I use this method to hard boil my eggs:
Place the eggs in water and bring up to the boil. As soon as the water is at a rolling boil, turn off the heat, put a lid on and time for 17 minutes. This is for extra-large eggs, I find any less time and the yolks are still a little waxy in the middle. As soon as the time is up, plunge them into iced water and peel the shells off, taking care not to pull chunks of egg white off.

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Cut the eggs in half length-ways and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Place the egg halves onto a plate.

Add enough mayonnaise and mash with a fork to make a smooth consistency. Then add the mustard, salt, pepper and paprika and mix thoroughly. Some people like to pass the yolks through a sieve, but I don’t think that’s necessary.

You can either use a piping bag with a small star tip to pipe pretty stars, or just place the yolk mixture into a plastic bag, cut off the corner and squeeze little mounds into the waiting egg halves.

Stud each egg with a little chunk of avocado and sprinkle over the chopped bacon and chives and finish with a little more of the smoked paprika. You could also heat things up and use cayenne pepper.

Devilled Egg

These are perfect little snacks for a buffet table, picnic or canapé with drinks.