Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mushroom, Cheese and Hazelnut Mille Feuille

Mushrooms. Puff pastry. Cream Cheese. Hazelnut cream. Each of these components sound (and taste) delicious! But, want to know what happens when you put them together in a savoury Mille Fueille? Yep, you are right. An out-of-this-world amazing blend of flavours and textures in each bite!

Last month's Daring Bakers challenge had us making puff pastry from scratch for a mille feuille. It was a fun challenge and I discovered how uncomplicated making puff pastry really is, dispelling all the myths about how it's close to impossible for home cooks to attempt. It's not! It's an achievement, yes, but it's not too difficult. It does however require time and patience. Check out my previous post for more details on making your own puff.

So, after completing the challenge — I made a mixed berries and cream mille feuille — I had some left over pastry which I'd already baked and cut into sheets. I popped them in the freezer because in the process of deciding on what I'd make for the challenge, I came accross a recipe for a savoury mille feuille which I wanted very much to try. There were three fillings for that mille feuille: mushrooms and herbs, goat cheese and chives and caramelised onions. Oh and then there was the hazelnut cream that was drizzled on top of each layer.

It looked and sounded fantastic (you should really check it out). I wanted to recreate the original but I  didn't have quite a few of the original ingredients and so I decided to improvise and use ingredients I had on hand. After all, as with most things, it's the idea and the essence of a dish that counts the most, right?

The first thing to go was goats cheese. A shame, really, as  love goats cheese. Actually, I love all cheeses but I didn't have goats cheese at home so I opted for the cream cheese which I had an abundance of in my fridge. I had chives so I added that to the cream cheese along with a few drops of lemon juice.

Next, I love caramelised onions. Really, I do. But I wasn't in the mood today to nurture them over a slow fire for close to an hour. I decided to omit the onions, certain that the mille feuille would taste just as fantastic without that one component. 

There were a couple of other ingredients which I didn't use: hazelnut oil and thyme -- both of which I also didn't have. I used olive oil instead and my all-time favourite herb: parsley. Oh!And I added chilli flakes.

Never too many mushrooms, I believe.

I don't know what the original tasted like (am sure it was nothing short of heavenly) but I was soooooo pleased with the flavour of my version: the Mushroom, Cream cheese and Hazelnut mille feuille.The thick, creamy cheese with chives against the crisp buttery pastry was one layer of goodness. Add to that a generous layer of sauteed mushrooms (with garlic, parsley and chilli)? That's the second layer of goodness. Now, top that with a thick drizzle of hazelnut cream. My, Oh! my! I think hazelnut cream has become my new favourite thing.

The hazelnut cream on top is a little thicker than intended but I ran out of cream! Still good, though!
Mushroom, Cream Cheese and Hazelnut Mille Feuille

Puff pastry (2 large sheets)
 For the mushrooms
2 cups mixed mushrooms (any type, sliced thin)
Parsley, a handful chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
Chilli flakes, a sprinkling (depending on your heat tolerance)
Butter for the pan.
salt and black pepper.

For the cheese paste
3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp finely chopped chives

For the hazelnut cream
1/3 cup hazelnuts, skinned and roasted
1/3 cup heavy cream  
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 180C. Cut the sheets of puff pastry into long strips, about 3 inches wide. Place on a baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the sheets of pastry and weigh it down with a heavy baking dish. Bake for about 25 mins. Remove the baking dish that's used as a weight and the parchment paper and bake for a further 5 mins till golden on top. Remove and cool.

Heat a skillet and add the butter. When it melts, add the garlic and a few seconds later, the mushrooms. Allow the juices to flow out of the mushrooms and add the chilli flakes. Keep the shrooms on the heat until the moisture disappears. Just before removing it from the stove, add the parsley and season.

Put the hazelnuts and cream in a blender and whiz till the nuts are almost all blended. Pour in the oil and seasoning and whiz some more. Remove.

Mix the cream cheese and the chives till well incorporated.

Assembling the mille feuille.
Cut the pastry to equal portion sized rectangles. Take one rectangle and spread a thick layer of cream cheese on it. Pile a layer of mushrooms on the cheese and then drizzle the hazelnut cream over the shrooms.

Repeat. this and then pile one layer atop the other.

Place a third sheet of pastry over the two layers and garnish with some cream, chopped nuts and parsley. 

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