I am firmly of the belief that a good pie crust improves just about any dish, be it savory or sweet. Flaky, crisp, and butter-rich, such a crust can transform many a ho-hum pile of fruit or bowl of stew into exciting new fare. Take the Vol-au-Vent from Yvette van Boven's Home Made Winter, for example. A simple stew of root vegetables, mushrooms, and crème fraîche is good enough on its own; but place it inside a buttery pastry shell, and it turns into an elegant vegetarian main dish. Brightened up with a smidgen of red onion compote, and you'll have a real winter winner on your hands.
Why I picked this recipe: Pie crust for dinner. Need I say more?
What worked: Recipe steps are spot on, and the final dish is as scrumptiously rich as it appears in the book.
What didn't: Don't attempt to cut corners by skipping the compote. Its acidity is key to balancing the rich pie. Next time, I'll make the dough first and let it rest while preparing the filling.
Suggested tweaks: If you don't keep preserved ginger on hand, you could substitute simple syrup with a little ginger powder in the compote (or make your own fresh ginger syrup). You could easily sub in any hearty root vegetables, such as turnips, carrots, or rutabaga for the celeriac. Likewise, if you don't want to spring for the wild mushrooms, creminis will do just fine. Since I had no small pie plates, I used one large (9-inch) pie plate; the mixture fit perfectly.
Reprinted with permission from Home Made Winter by Yvette van Boven, copyright 2012. Published by Stewart, Tabori, & Chang. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:serves 6
- Active time: 1 1/2 hours
- Total time:2 1/2 hours
- For the compote
- 1 large red onion, cut into thin rings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons (50 ml) red wine
- 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
- 1 tablespoons ginger syrup from a jar of preserved ginger
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Filling
- 4 1/2 cups (1 l) vegetable broth
- 1/2 celeriac, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2-cm) chunks
- 14 ounces (400 g) wild mushrooms, cleaned and torn or cut into equal pieces
- 3 tablespoons (50 g) butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) crème fraîche
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) dry sherry or marsala wine
- For the Dough
- 2 1/2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 g) butter
- Ice water
- 1 egg, beaten
Make the compote first so that it can cool while you make the rest: Saute the onion in the oil over very low heat, and add the rosemary. When the onion is soft, add the wine, vinegar, and ginger syrup and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for another 15 minutes, until the ingredients are integrated. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the filling: Bring the broth to a boil. Add the celeriac and simmer until tender. Drain, reserving the broth. Set aside.
Quickly saute the mushrooms in half the butter over high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Melt the remaining butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and rosemary and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour. Stir in the broth, cooking and stirring until the sauce is just thicker than yogurt. Stir in the crème fraîche and sherry. Cook the sauce until it’s thick. Stir in the celeriac and mushrooms.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Make the dough: Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add a few drops of ice water to make a nice, smooth dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Grease 6 small pie plates or 1 large pie plate. Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Line the pans with the dough and trim off the excess dough around the edges. Cut out some decorations from the remaining dough. I like to make stars. Keep the decorations under plastic wrap until ready to use.
Fill the dough with the mushroom filling. Place the stars on the vol-au-vents and brush all with beaten egg. Bake the vol-au-vents about 25 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Serve with the compote and a green salad.