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Brandade of Smoked Mackerel in Puff Pastry
In this dish, which is guaranteed to impress your friends, the normal salt cod (in a traditional Brandade) has been replaced by smoked mackerel to make an unusual filling for little pastry puffs.
The quantity given will serve about six people as a Starter.
They freeze well, and are a good standby, as they are just as successful cooked straight from the freezer.
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For 6 - as a Starter:
2 cloves of Garlic, peeled
very little salt (as the smoked mackerel is already salty)
250g/8oz Smoked Mackerel fillets
50ml/2 fl oz Milk, warm – not hot
50ml/2 fl oz Olive Oil; warm – not hot
freshly-ground Black Pepper
the juice of ½ a Lemon, sieved
400g/12oz bought Puff Pastry; gently thawed if frozen
about 50g/2oz Flour (for rolling out the pastry and lining the baking trays)
1 Egg, lightly-beaten
1. Chop the garlic finely in a food processor, with a little salt to melt it.
2. Add the mackerel fillets and process until the mixture is smooth.
3. Prepare a bain-marie and in it warm the mackerel paste.
4. Have the milk and oil ready in two cups or jugs, and add these alternately, a little at a time; mix well with a wooden spoon to incorporate each addition.
5. Don't let the mixture get too hot, it should just stay warm.
6. Season to taste with pepper, then add the lemon juice. On no account add extra salt.
7. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of an hour – the mixture will happily keep for a few days in the fridge, if covered. Some oil might separate, but will just need beating back in.
a prolonged rest may be taken at this point.
8. Roll out the puff pastry fairly thinly, using a little of the extra flour to stop it sticking.
9. Stamp out rounds of about 7.5cm/3ins across, with a pastry cutter or glass. Any leftover pastry can be re-rolled to make more puffs.
10. Put a generous teaspoonful (8ml) of mackerel mixture on each round of pastry, then brush the edges of the dough with a little water. Fold the pastry over to make a little purse and carefully seal with your fingers. The edges can be crimped with the prongs of a fork to produce a professional result.
Can be prepared ahead up to this point; if doing this read the following two paragraphs.
11. Keep the baby pasties on a lightly-floured tray in the fridge for up to two days – or freeze on a tray. When frozen they can be stored in a plastic bag in the deep freeze and cooked as required.
To flour a tray: rub it all over with a cold block of butter; then distribute the flour over it (this can be done by gently tapping) – any excess flour can be removed (for use on the next tray). The benefit of this system is that there is no excess flour left to stick to the pastry and make it tough.
12. When ready to cook, heat the oven to 230°C/450°Gas 8.
13. Bake 3 per person, brushed with the beaten egg to give a gloss – for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. If cooking straight from the freezer allow an extra 2 minutes
They are excellent served with a few very-lightly dressed mixed leaves (these should always be done at the very last minute, or they’ll look heavy and limp) and Cucumber Raita; this is simply made by mixing some chopped cucumber and a little chopped onion into some plain thick yoghurt.
Recipe taken from 'Foolproof Entertaining' by Simon Scrutton - available from www.runninghare.gb.com