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Choux Box

January 2002

Ok, a dreadful pun, but I thought of the title first and then had to think of a recipe that fit.

Choux pastry is so simple and is so nice it deserves a place in everyone’s repertoire.

The Pease Pudding makes a flavoursome base and I’ve found it used to good effect in some very fancy savoury red-onion tartlets served in an expensive restaurant in London, so it’s good enough for this.

Ingredients

For the pastry
· 115g strong white flour
· 75g butter or margarine
· 75g hard waxy cheese, e.g., Edam or Emmental
· 200ml water
· 3 medium free range eggs
· a little water

For the centre
· 1 tin Pease Pudding or refried beans if you are feeling up-market
· 2 medium onions
· 2 yellow peppers
· any other things that you fancy such as courgettes
· extra virgin olive oil for frying

Choux Box

For the topping
· 200ml crème fraîche
· 1 medium free range egg
· 1 small bunch of fresh coriander (watercress works well if coriander is not to your taste)
· 2 small (not cherry) tomatoes

Method

· Put the water and the butter in a large pan and heat until the fat is melted, but don’t boil
· Take from the heat and add all of the flour in one go
· With a wooden spoon (a metal one will bend – you have been warned), blend until all the lumps are gone and you have a putty like paste
· Leave to cool for 10 minutes (don’t be tempted to do less)
· Beat the 3 eggs and add to the mixture a little at a time, blending with the wooden spoon until you have a smooth paste.
· Cube the cheese and blend in as well. This should stay in lumps, as it should be too cool to melt it.
· Put the oven on to 200ºC
· Slowly fry the onions, peppers and anything else so that they go soft
· Season with ground black pepper and anything else you enjoy. I had thought of garlic but I’m not certain the flavour would go well. However, I did use about 2cm of a seeded green chilli chopped and fried as well and no one complained.
· Choose a square ovenproof dish about 25x25cm and 4-5cm deep.
· Press the peas pudding into a square mound in the dish leaving a gap of 2cm all round
· Then put the choux pastry into the gap
· Pile on the fried vegetables keeping them off the pastry
· Chop the tomatoes into about 1cm chunks
· Roughly chop or tear up the coriander
· Beat the crème frais and the egg together
· Blend in the coriander and tomatoes
· Pile the mixture on top of the vegetables, again keeping off the choux
· Put in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the pastry is risen and well browned (believe me if you take it out too early it will be like chewing-gum). You can check the pastry is done with a skewer – if it comes out clean, it’s done.

This went well with some plain steamed cabbage and we found that we didn’t need any sauces beyond the topping.

Dave Wardell

 

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