Daring Cooks: En Croute!

Whilst I was typing the post title, my choice of punctuation made me think of a little line of chefs being shouted at by a bossy head chef, and all brandishing their kitchen knives like battle is about to commence. It made me smile, so I thought I'd share!

But now back to the matter in hand (since I've already deviated before I've even started) - the May Daring Cooks' Challenge.

Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don't Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our  May Daring Cooks' hostess and she challenged us to five into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!

Well, I have to confess, I abandoned the instructions almost at the outset - I didn't want to make the Beef Wellington since doing it properly is quite a lot of work and expense. The mushroom one sounded good but unfortunately cheesy, so I decided to class myself as a kid and create my own instead.

And so, we ended up with Lentil and Beetroot Loaf En Croute. Which was cheap, fairly easy, moderately healthy and really tasty.

I concocted the loaf recipe myself, then used a cornmeal crust I'd saved from a magazine clipping (minus the butter and cheese).

Lentil and Beetroot Loaf En Croute (Serves 6)

The Loaf
  • 100g buckwheat groats - preferably toasted (you can get them in most Polish shops - they are called kasza gryczana)
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 small beetroot
  • 4 leaves wild garlic / 1 clove regular garlic
  • 150g red lentils
  • 1 pint vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp Marmite
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
Peel and finely chop the onion and beetroot.
Wash and thinly slice the wild garlic
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and sauté the onion, garlic and beetroot for a few minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 30 mins until the liquid is absorbed.
Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan).
Tip the mixture into a loaf tin (or mini loaf tins) and bake for about 30 mins until firm to the touch and browned on top.
Allow to cool and turn carefully out of the tin.

The Cornmeal Pastry
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup medium polenta
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup dairy free margarine
  • Cold water to mix
Mix together the flour, polenta and salt, then rub in the margarine until mixture begins to look like coarse breadcrumbs.
Add the cold water a 1tbsp at a time until the mixture can be formed into a coherent ball.

  • 1 egg beaten
Roll out the pastry thinly (I was trying to get it less than 1/2 centimetre and that seemed to work well).
Use it to wrap your loaves (big or small), just like a birthday present. Re-roll the trimmings.
Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet, and decorate as you choose, then brush with the beaten egg.
Bake at 180C for about 30 mins until pastry is golden.

We ate our with broccoli stir fried with smoked garlic, chilli and sesame, plus some gravy!

Thanks for a very tasty challenge :-)

PS - Mr E took up the en croute challenge too - it's been a pastry-wrapped month for us, chez Makey-Cakey. He made... squirrel en croute. No, really. (And it was tasty!) He went with Mini-M on a squirrel procuring mission to a local Sunday market and on their return, Mini-M excitedly told me Daddy was going to be cooking squirrel, asked what the squirrel's name was, and whether Daddy was going to cook it's eyes ?!?!?! At least she didn't seem too fazed by the concept...