Things en Croute

Posted By Stephen









Last night we had an informal dinner party of sorts. I had four consecutive vintages of the same wine that I’d bought on trips to South Africa and wanted an excuse to open them all at once and do a comparative tasting. So this was the excuse for it. More on that later.

We started with a couple of bottles of sparkling wine from a little closer – Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2000 and Denbies Greenfields Cuvée 2004, which was kindly brought by our guests. We’d had the Nyetimber 1999 and really enjoyed it; the 2000 was similar but tasted a bit riper and slightly sweeter. The Denbies was really good too – less toasty and more floral and aromatic than the Nyetimber. With these we had some roasted mixed nuts. We’d been discussing roasting our own nuts, but didn’t get round to it.

Starters were two pates – chicken liver and smoked mackerel. We’d made them both the night before and they certainly tasted better for having time for the flavours to blend; the mackerel had a bit of a kick from the cayenne pepper. I think the chicken liver was a bit under seasoned though and it’s a bit hard to add seasoning to it afterwards as it solidifies.

Next up was “things en croute”. Both salmon en croute and beef en croute have been our list of things to make for a while, so we did them both at once. The beef was surrounded by a layer of mushrooms and onions cooked down almost to a paste. The salmon was done in two layers, with a filling of cream cheese, spinach, rocket and watercress between them. I was rather pleased with the way these two turned out. I’d asked the butcher for a longer thinner piece of fillet but he recommended the fat piece as it had a better flavour. It certainly did have a good flavour, but the wideness of each slice of beef meant that the ratio of pastry and mushroom filling to beef was quite low. And I did leave it in for a little too long – should have used the meat thermometer!

Then apple crumble, which we’d made earlier in the day and reheated. Kerri was a bit worried about the topping not being quite right, but it tasted good. And the custard. Mmmmmmm the custard. We made real fresh custard for the first time and it was brilliant. We might have to make custard every day in fact. We certainly need to get our blow torch refilled so that we can make crème brûlée, or make them under the grill.

We had three cheeses – stilton, lancashire and stinking bishop.

Back to the excuse for the dinner in the first place – the wine. It’s not wine that was made to be kept for ages, but I happened to have four consecutive years of this particular cabernet sauvignon so just ended up keeping them for fun; it certainly wasn’t made to be kept for 11 years. We started with the 1996, which disappointingly had quite a lot of cork taint. So rather musty and hard to tell how the wine would have been but from what we could make out, it seemed a bit over the hill. Needless to say, we opened the 1997 shortly afterwards. This was immediately better in that it was clean. It still had some fruit but was a little past its best. The 1998 followed and this was good; lots of cabernet fruit flavour with smooth tannins and generally well balanced. We didn’t get to the 1999 as we’d had a fair amount of wine by this point. It was an interesting experiment, but next time I’ll try it with wine that’s designed to be kept for a long time.

Oct 28th, 2007

6 Comments to 'Things en Croute'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Things en Croute'.

  1. Jules said,

    The en crute dishes look great. Only an hour ago Ian & I were talking about how we must make beef en crute some time. I wish I had a clue with wine, but I don’t!

  2. Stephen said,

    Thanks Jules, I was rather pleased with the way they turned out. We’ve decided that we should make our own sausage rolls soon.

  3. Richard said,

    The pastries look particularly delicious… and I like the idea of a comparitive wine tasting!

  4. Stephen said,

    Thanks Richard 🙂

    It was the first time we’d done “en croute” and we were both pleased with the result.

  5. L said,

    Wow – a veritable feast! Looks delicious, especially that runny cheese. Yum.

  6. Stephen said,

    The runny cheese was the Stinking Bishop; it was yummy indeed!

:: Trackbacks/Pingbacks ::

No Trackbacks/Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.