I am out of leftover homecooked food in the freezer so decide I will make a couple of recipes out of my new cookbook The Seasoned Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer and as usual, it’s the ones with cream and cheese that take my fancy and tonight’s recipe of choice is Rice & Mushrooom Parcel. Although it has no cream in it, or cheese, but it does have mushrooms. And puff pastry. What more does a girl need? Ah, wine. Of course.
So armed with my cookbook, a glass of wine and my brand new-ish set of knives, I set about making this rice and mushroom parcel that I am informed feeds two. I’m not sure which two people Mr Rimmer is talking about when I see the pile of mushrooms that I slice. The two fat ladies, perhaps? (Notwithstanding the fact that one of them is a dead fat lady. No, not dead fat, as in I’m a Scouser and talk funny, dead as in dead. No more. An ex-fat-lady. Ceased to exist. etc.)
After I’ve spent five minutes of my life that I’m never going to get back slicing 600g of mushrooms and an onion, I pull out of the drawer my big frying pan and wonder if it’s going to be big enough for The Walthamstow Mushroom Mountain and decide it probably won’t be and therefore it will take longer than the five minutes Mr Rimmer reckons it’s going to take for the onions and mushrooms to cook. Still, Eastenders isn’t on yet so all is good.
But before I start on this frying a mushroom mountain exercise, I have to hard boil two eggs. HELP! I’M STUCK! I don’t know how long it takes to hard boil an egg. I decide it’s about 10 minutes, which is handily how long it’s going to take to boil the rice I also need to cook. Synchronisation, like swimmers. Except in egg-form. And rice-form.
After about 10 minutes or so, I decide the mushrooms and onion have cooked enough and I pour it into a bowl along with the chopped hard boiled eggs and rice (that is a pretty yellow colour thanks to the turmeric).
Now it gets tricky. It’s always tricky when pastry’s involved. Even if it’s ready-rolled pastry.
I get the pastry out of the packet and the recipe says put the mushrooom and rice filling mixture down the middle of the pastry. BUT THERE’S F*****G TONS OF IT! Still, undeterred I pour the mixture onto the middle of the pastry. Now it says to wrap the pastry around to enclose the filling. Wrap it like a Swiss roll or just fold it over? I’m confused. I decide on the Swiss roll approach and not too much filling oozes out of the sides and I even get to squish down the edges that I have brushed with egg. There are, however, a few holes. Ho hum.
But I decide not to try and patch the holes up and put it in the oven and after 25 minutes I decide it’s ready and there’s no way it feeds two, more like four, as it’s massive, even for a glutton like me.
And hurrah, it’s delicious. And definitely one I’ll be making again, although I think it’ll be nicer without the egg so won’t be adding that again. If The Meat Eater’s lucky, I might even make it for him one day.
Rice & mushroom parcel
(taken from The Seasoned Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer)
250g ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
50g basmati rice
pinch of turmeric
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 onion, finely chopped
600g brown cap mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp each chopped fresh parsley and tarragon
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
few sesame seeds, to sprinkle
For the parcel filling, cook the rice in salted boiling water with the turmeric and lemon zest for about 12 minutes until just tender, then drain.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the onion and mushrooms for about 5 minutes until soft. Tip into a bowl.
Stir the cooked rice, herbs and chopped hard-boiled eggs into the onion and mushroom mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Cut the pastry into a rectangle measuring 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 cm inches). Place the filling mixture down the middle of the rectangle, brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg, then wrap it around to enclose the filling and press the edges together to seal. Roll the parcel over so that the long seam is underneath and brush with egg wash.
Place the parcel on a baking sheet and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.
Sprinkle the pastry with sesame seeds, then bake for 30 minutes until crisps and golden. Serve hot cut into thick slices.
(Note. I used lemon juice out of a bottle, dried tarragon, no parsley and no sesame seeds, and I didn’t leave it to chill for 30 minutes either. And I haven’t died or been struck by lightning. Yet.)