Monday, 19 December 2011

Stilton, Spinach and Mushroom Towers with Apple and Cranberry Chutney

Please ignore my bottom layer test-dish-lazy half circle!
The wonderful Vegan Dad blog posted a wonderful Thanksgiving recipe which I persuaded the 10yr old and the boyf to try this weekend as I thought that it would be a wonderful starter for the Christmas Eve dinner that I am planning.  There was one possible issue, the tofu, and although they ate it, even Vegan Dad's gorgeous recipe (and we all agreed on that) couldn't convert them!

We also came to the conclusion that it would be a step too far for our carnivore friends who are coming to dinner.  Like the 10yr old and the boyf, my friends (all of whom are al*  so great cooks and foodies) have been very understanding and accommodating of my new eating habits.  In a similar vein, when I cook for them I take into account that this probably wouldn't be their first choice for an evening's dinner and so I don't push them too far out of their comfort zone.  When cooking for friends I go for mainly vegetarian dishes that I can veganise for myself.

So I got to thinking.  I love towers of food, I loved the Apple and Cranberry Chutney from Vegan Dad's recipe and similarly the spinach stuffing.  I needed a tofu replacement and instantly thought blue cheese and mushrooms.  This is my first attempt and I'm pretty pleased with it, it's buttery, salty and very tasty and who can argue with spinach and mushrooms.  For tonight I didn't make the chutney again, I just needed to create a tower which would work with its wonderful maplely sweetness.

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Stilton, Spinach and Mushroom Towers with Apple and Cranberry Chutney

Makes 4-6 portions.
vzYou need a large frying pan and a 1.5-2 inch plain circular cutter.

Apple and Cranberry Chutney - as per Vegan Dad's recipe, follow the link above.

Sourdough Circles

1-2 loaves sourdough bread, deep enough to allow 1.5-2 inch circles to be cut out of a slice
Soya Margarine
Salt and Pepper

Mushroom Layer

4-6 Chestnut Mushrooms, sliced - 1 medium/large mushroom per person
Soya Margarine

Stilton and Spinach Layer

150-200g baby spinach
1 leek, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tbsp apple cider
6-7 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped off
Soya Margarine
Salt and Pepper

1. Make the chutney as per the recipe and set aside, keeping warm.  The chutney is moist but not runny and as there is no tofu layer, which was quite moist, I would add a little more maple syrup and apple cider as I reheated the chutney prior to serving and drizzle it over the final dish.

2.  Heat the oven to 100C.   Melt approx. a dessert spoon of margarine in a large frying pan with a good glug of EVOO.  Add the mushrooms and fry for 5 minutes or so, enough so that some of the juices escape but they are not too dry.  Put the mushrooms in an oven proof dish and cover with foil, place in the oven to stay warm.

3. In the same frying pan, add some more margarine and EVOO and lightly fry the leeks and garlic until the leeks are soft (2-3 minutes).  Add the thyme leaves and the apple cider, let it reduce lightly for another minute and then add the spinach and cook until most of the spinach has wilted.  Again this will rest in the oven, so don't overcook it now.  Transfer to an ovenproof dish and add small cubes of stilton, to taste.  I added 5 pieces to the test (single) portion.  Gently stir it evenly into the spinach mixture, cover with tin foil and place in the oven; the stilton will melt into the spinach mixture as it sits in the oven.

* For a vegan version, I would replace the cheese with a couple of teaspoons of French Grain Mustard.

4.  Slice the sourdough bread into enough slices to cut two 1.5-2 inch circles per person.  Butter them on both sides with margarine and place them into the frying pan.  Fry them till golden brown on one side, flip and season well.  Once the second side is golden brown, flip a second time and season.

5.  Make the towers.  Place the cutter on a plate and a sourdough circle inside.  Gently press it down.  Ease the cutter up to the top of the bread and layer half a portion of mushrooms on top.  Add a portion of the spinach mix to the top of the cutter height, gently pressing in place to form a firm filling.  Again ease the cutter up and place the second half of the mushrooms on top of the spinach.  Remove the cutter and gently place the second sourdough disc on top.  Finally top with a spoonful of chutney, scatter a little more on the plate and drizzle some chutney sauce as dressing.

6.  Serve with a watercress and wild rocket salad, with a mustard and olive oil dressing.  Enjoy!
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