Ohhhh Sunday morning - the luxury of lying in bed while the bloody incessant spring wind blusters around outside is so delicious. Especially with clean sheets. So that's me right now propped up in bed with my cup of tea, but shortly I will be getting up to take advantage of that wind by putting the fifth load of Rich's washing on the line...with about another five loads to do. (Where did all of the clothes come from...and has he in fact not worn anything twice for the last semester and just put them all in suitcases as he goes?) It was fabulous to welcome him home yesterday, the house has become so quiet lately that the contrast is huge. And now I have my lovely big, long-haired (can't cut it until he hears back about an audition) baby mooching around with sarcastic asides and a gorgeous wide smile - makes me so happy! Wish Poggy was here too...
OK, to the food. This is such a brilliant combination – intense mushroomy goodness (thanks to the addition of reconstituted, dried mushrooms), and intense, gooey melted cheese encased in golden flaky pastry. A pithivier is a French flat pie (kind of), and this is so incredibly delicious and, I promise you, easy to make. It is a recipe that I put together for a recent issue of the beautiful Dish magazine, and brilliant to slice into wedges and enjoy with a few drinks, especially at this time of year when the weather is still so crappy, but we're all trying very hard to pretend summer is coming, and keen to get into the festive swing of things. The recipe makes two pithiviers, and seeing as there are about a mullion bullion (Pog's Will (as opposed to nephew Will) are you reading this?!), I would make one and bung the other one in the freezer. Unless of course you have 12 people coming, then bake both! I am planning on posting heaps more Christmassey (or Thanksgivingey) recipes in the next month, so make sure you keep checking back in, and in the meantime, pleeeease don't be nervous to make this one, you won't be sorry! :)
10g dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 shallot, finely chopped
350g mixed mushrooms, finely chopped (I used Swiss Brown and field mushrooms)
1 tablespoon sherry
300g butter puff pastry (I used Paneton’s pre-rolled pastry)
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Put cheese in the freezer to chill. Put dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and cover with ¼ cup boiling water then leave to rest for 15 minutes. Drain the reconstituted mushrooms well and chop finely. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the garlic and shallot together over a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes. Increase the heat and add both lots of mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Add the sherry and cook a few minutes more until the mushrooms are quite dry. Put in an uncovered container and chill in the fridge. Roll pre-rolled pastry out slightly so that you have enough room to cut out four circles. 2 circles should be 2cm wider than the circumference of the brie, and 2 circles should be 4cm wider than the circumference of the brie. Starting from the centre mark 6-8 curved, very light knife slashes in the top of the bigger pastry rounds – only just breaking the surface. Remove cheese from the freezer and use a serrated knife to slice it in half so that you have two brie circles. Place each cheese half, cut side up, in the middle of the smaller pastry rounds. Top each with half of the mushrooms – spread to cover the top evenly. Brush the exposed pastry edge with egg wash and top with the larger pastry round. Press the edges of the pastry together and trim neatly. Brush with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Use your thumb or the tines of a fork to press edges together securely. Refrigerate for half an hour while the oven preheats to 190˚C and put a baking tray in the oven to heat up. Cook pithiviers for 20-25 minutes until golden and flaky. Slice each into 6-8 wedges to serve with drinks or with a small green salad, as an entrée. I served mine with a little cranberry relish, but they would also be great with apricot chutney or a little quince paste. Serves 12 (or 6 if you freeze one!)
These freeze really well too, so you can always make two and keep one for later – just defrost over night in the fridge before cooking.