Wednesday, 23 October 2013

three delicious party vol-au-vents!

Last night I made three flavours of vol-au-vents, the ones above are Mediterranean vegetable, I also made macho peas (peas, chilli and mint) and mushroom and thyme. They all went down really well, and once you've prepared the pastry they're super easy to make. 

1 sheet of Jus-Rol made 28 vol-au-vents that were 5cm by 5cm (roughly 2inches by 2inches). 

Preparation time: About 30 minutes

For the pastry:

1 roll/block of frozen puff pastry (I use Jus-Rol as it's already vegan!)
A little bit of flour for rolling if applicable 
Baking paper
A big oven tray 

1. Leave the pastry to defrost - this will take a few hours. If you're impatient, you can VERY carefully microwave the pastry in short 15-20 second blasts. Be careful if using this method. This works if it's pre-rolled, but is totally not worth it if your pastry is a block - just wait! 

2. Preheat the oven to 190 celsius/370 fahrenheit. Roll the pastry out if it's a block, until you have a large rectangle of pastry that is nice and thin, about 0.5cm. I use pastry that is already rolled out for me, the height of lazy luxury!

2. Get a ruler, and mark along the sides of the pastry in 5cm (2 inch) increments with a knife. This will act as a guide for cutting out squares that are hopefully pretty similar in size. 

3. Once you've done all your markings, you can start cutting. Don't use a serrated knife, try and use a flat blade, and make it as long a knife as possible. Don't pull the knife back and forth, just press it down slowly, lift it back up, and move on to the next area and press down slowly again. You don't want to tear at the pastry because it will cause chaos to the other squares around it. You should end up with 26-30 delightful squares, all still tucked neatly next to each other. Don't worry about separating them yet.

4. Very gently, score a smaller square inside each vol-au-vent. Use just the tip of your knife, and be careful not to cut down through all of the pastry, or you will get leaky fillings! You want to cut through just the top few layers. Leave about a 1cm edge all the way around. This is the most time consuming part of the bake, so stay patient. 

5. Brush the little squares with a bit of soya milk, and transfer them onto baking paper sat on a large tray. Separate the squares slightly so they have room to puff up. You might have to bake them in 2 different batches depending on your tray size - I did! The baking paper is there to stop them all getting stuck to the tray, which would be a disaster. 

6. Pop in the oven at 190 celsius/370 fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, but check them after 10 incase your oven is especially efficient. Once they're golden and risen it's time to take them out. 

7. Transfer the vol-au-vents to your worktop. Using your knife, very carefully score back over the lines you made for the inside squares. Once you do the 4th side, the middle square of pastry should pop out. If you're hungry, this is amazing as you can eat them all. Do this with all of them until you have neat little square holes in all of your vols. 

8. If you're not filling them right away, pop them into an airtight container so they keep their crunch. When filling, divide the vols into three piles so you get equal amounts of each flavour. This will also help you gauge how much filling you need. 

For the Mediterranean vegetable filling:

Half a red onion
6 cherry tomatoes
a chunk of aubergine (eggplant)
1 orange/yellow/red bell pepper 
A squeeze of tomato puree
Chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
Olive oil 

1. Chop up everything into little bits - you don't want anything that won't fit into your vol-au-vents! 

2. Fry the onion and pepper, and add the aubergine (eggplant) and the chopped cherry tomatoes a few minutes later. Stir on a medium heat until everything is getting nice and soft. 

3. Add the chilli flakes (a few shakes will do) and the oregano, salt and pepper. Add a squeeze of tomato puree. This might seem a little dry, but keep mixing together as the juices from the vegetables will mix with the puree and it will become the right consistency. 

4. Using a teaspoon, drop blobs of filling into the square holes until they're nice and full - don't be stingy! Serve ASAP :)

Pea, chilli and mint filling

Around 200g of peas
A handful of fresh mint
1 red chilli - whatever strength you can handle as it will be raw!
Olive oil

1. Cook the peas in boiling water for a few minutes, drain and mash in the pan. Mash until the peas are a bit smashed up, and the consistency is a bit easier to spoon about than a bunch of rolling peas. 

2. Chop up the mint and the chilli very small, and add to the pan with some olive oil.

3. Heat through if it's gone a little cold, mixing the ingredients together. 

4. Using a teaspoon, dollop the mixture into the vol-au-vents. Be liberal! 

Mushroom and thyme filling

9 mushrooms, I used chestnut for their nice colour
Dash of soya milk
Salt and pepper
Olive oil 

1. Chop some of the mushrooms into quarters - enough to have one quarter on the top of each vol-au-vent. In my case, I had 9 vol-au-vents so I chopped 2.5 mushrooms into quarters! Set aside for the time being. 

2. Chop the rest of the mushrooms up nice and small, and pop into a medium hot frying pan with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Wait until they have gone nice and soft and are browning off, stirring regularly. 

3. Add a dash of soya milk, and stir it in. Keep the mushrooms on the heat - the milk should bubble up and reduce down, making the mixture a bit less wet but nice and creamy. Once you're happy with the consistency, transfer to a bowl.

2. Quickly fry the quartered mushrooms in the same pan, with a little more olive oil and thyme. Once they're nicely browned, you can create your vol-au-vents.

3. Add a dollop of the creamy mushrooms into each vol, and place a mushroom quarter on the top. 

4. Devour!! 

What food would you prepare if you had a party? What other fillings do you think would work well?

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