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Strudel di Porcini e Pecorino - On a sunny October day we marvelled at an array of mushrooms spread out in autumnal glory at the Rialto market. The recognizable porcini were next to the chanterelles, known locally as finferli, and chiodini the ones that look like little nails. Later for lunch at LOsteria di Santa Marina we had a filo pastry bundle filled with the fresh porcini mushrooms layered with local asiago cheese. If you cant find asiago use pecorino, firm goats cheese or brie.

+ Ingredients

FOR THE MUSHROOM FILLING:
20 g (3/4 oz/1 cup) dried porcini
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) chestnut or other flavourful mushrooms, sliced 5 mm (1/4 in) thick
1 large garlic clove, lightly crushed
3 sprigs of thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE PEPPER PUREE:
2 red (bell) peppers
1 shallot or small white onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
30 g (1 oz) Arborio or other risotto or pudding rice
200 ml (7 fl oz/scant 1 cup) vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE STRUDELS:
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pack of filo pastry
100 g (31/2 oz/scant 1/2 cup) salted
Butter, melted for brushing the pastry
175g (6 oz) asiago, grated

Extra-virgin olive oil to serve

+ Ingredients

To cook the mushrooms

+ Method

Soak the porcini in a bowl of tepid water for at le ast 20 minutes. Strain off the water and discard then squeeze out any excess water and chop them roughly. Warm the olive oil in a pan, add the chestnut mushrooms, garlic and herbs. Season and sauté over a high heat, tossing frequently for 10 minutes until the mushrooms have softened and browned. Add the porcini to the pan and fry for 2 more minutes. Take off the heat and tip the mushroom mixture into a large bowl or plate to cool to room temperature. Remove and discard the garlic and herbs.

+ Ingredients

To make the pepper purée

+ Method

Cook the peppers whole on a baking tray with no oil or seasoning for 45 minutes until dark brown patche  appear on the skin. Remove them from the oven and tip into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, or put them into a clean plastic bag, to sweat them. When cool enough to touch, peel and discard the skin from the peppers, cut them open, discard the stalk, seeds and pith and chop roughly.

Sweat the shallot in the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat until translucent. Add the peppers and stir. Add the rice and a ladle of vegetable stock and continue to cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the remaining stock a ladleful at a time, like a risotto, until most the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked; this should take around 25“30 minutes. Take off the heat, allow the mixture to cool slightly and then purée w ith a stick blender or food processor. Season to taste.

+ Ingredients

To make the strudels

+ Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and grease six 8 cm (31/4 in) deep and 4 cm (11/2 in) wide ramekins or dariole moulds with melted butter. Cut 9 sheets of filo in half to make 18 squares. Lay on  square out on a clean, dry work surface and brush with plenty of melted butter. Lay another square on top, brush with more butter, then add a final square so you have 3 layers of pastry. Now gather the edges together and push the pastry gently into a mould. Spoon in one-sixth of the mushroom mixture and then put one-sixth of the cheese on top. Pinch the filo sheets togethe r so that it looks like a drawstring bag. Gently brush with more butter. Repeat for the remaining 5 moulds.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the parcels are golden brown and crisp. Heat the pepper purée; it may have thickened up as it contains rice so add a little hot water to obtain a sauce consistency if necessary. Pour a circle or a line of it on to a warmed plate and carefully turn out the strudels from the moulds on to the sauce. Drizzle around some olive oil and serve.