Sometimes, things don’t turn out the way you expect. You feel cross with your self inside and yet you’ve presented something perfectly acceptable, it’s just you know it should be better.
I was commiserating just this point with a friend at a Jubilee party this weekend. She’d made cupcakes, of the supremely fine-crumbed and meltingly-soft icing kind, but was grumpy at the fact that her cake toppers and decorations hadn’t arrived, and had to make do with other finishings. Of course I and everybody said they were fantastic (the squirt of jam on the inside was genius!) but she couldn’t look past it. Equally with what I’d brought – it was supposed to be Heston’s infamous Meat Fruit, inspired by Cumbria Foodie’s brilliant recreation. I’d already planned to change it up with making a mushroom version as opposed chicken liver, but I couldn’t quite get the spherical moulds in time. It was never going to be orange-shaped but I wanted to persevere with the rest of the recipe anyway.
It was difficult at first, as I’d moved it from chicken livers which must be prepared in a certain way for safety reasons; yet mushrooms don’t have the same concerns. So how do you transfer the mushroom flavour into a parfait effectively? I surfed around for parfait ideas but I couldn’t move for sweet recipes which start with an egg and sugar sabayon – far too sweet for this. After a little more research I found a baked eggs and cream technique which when added to a reduced mixture would capture the texture and flavour I was after. I could allow it to be rich as the orange jelly would have a welcome tang against the smooth pate. I was very pleased with how it turned out; creamy and woody with the citrus cutting through it.
And to accompany I made some walnut bread. In hindsight this would’ve been perfect wholemeal but it did the job.
Mushroom parfait with orange jelly and walnut bread (makes 6 individual parfaits and 1 400g loaf):
For the parfait:
40g dried mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ onion, diced
150ml Marsala wine
A few sprigs of thyme
300ml double cream
For the orange jelly:
40g liquid glucose
4 sheets leaf gelatine
½ teaspoon orange food colouring
For the walnut loaf:
500g strong bread flour
25g butter, diced
Salt and sugar
300ml warm water
30g walnut pieces
- Combine the mushrooms, garlic, onion, port, wine and thyme in a jug and leave to infuse overnight.
- Place the satsumas into a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 2 hours. Strain off the liquid into a bowl containing the gelatine. Mash the oranges with a fork and push through a sieve. Add the glucose and then stir in the gelatine until dissolved. Pour a layer of this mix into your moulds (I recommend silicone ones to remove them easily afterwards). Pop this into the fridge until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until you have about 100ml of liquid left at the bottom of the pan. Pour this into a blender and whizz to a paste. Crack in the eggs and pour in the cream and keep whizzing until smooth. Sieve this mix into silicone moulds and place this into a tray half-filled with boiling water. Place this into the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until the tops just start to brown. When cooked remove from the water and place into the fridge until needed.
- For the bread mix together all the dry ingredients, rub in the butter and add the water until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Knead for 10 minutes. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place. Work the dough again and form into a loaf shape. Slash the top of the loaf a few times and cover with a teatowel. Leave for 20 minutes to settle and preheat the oven to 220°C. Pop the bread in the oven for 30 minutes or until hollow sounding when knocked. Remove to a wire rack to cool before serving.
- To serve, slice the bread and turn out the parfaits.