It started with a cheese.
This all started after the people at Comté cheese treated me and a few other bloggers to a delightful little cookery experience and cheese tasting, featuring a some aged variants of Comté, a decidedly lovely cheese. Even Raymond Blanc agrees, recently tweeting about being spoilt by the very same “Dinner at my mum. a-wild flowers .comte..sculptured radishes ,home made -creme anglaise .biscuit .Totally spoiled(sic).”.
As for my being spoilt with Comté, I was treated to a decadent cheese soufflé, followed by getting involved in the making of a lovely puff pastry tart with bacon and apple, topped with unctuous, melted, oozing Comté. The latter of these enticed the little chef inside me to translate the recipe in some kind of vegetarian sausage roll that would have serious cheese appeal. Ideally something with hidden, molten Comté, only to be discovered when you break into the perfect golden morsel presented to you. So I set about creating the recipe you find here.
This recipe presented me with a very complex, difficult and hard to resolve problem. It demonstrated the depths of philosophical wrangling that I have to endure, just to bring to you what seems, on the surface, a simple recipe.
Take this particular little gem. It’s got 8 ingredients, an average amount by most standards, half of those being day to day ‘store cupboard’ items. There are no complicated process involved and if you use shop bought pastry it really isn’t very difficult at all. I’ve made it a few times now, perfecting it, and it’s a particularly tasty recipe, which I’ve whittled down from being far more complex.
So what on earth could give rise to such existential trauma, such deep rooted emotional turmoil?
Mushroomy rolls but not a mushroom roll.
To my mind, these are sausage rolls, like when a brand name passes into our standard vocabulary, such as Hoover, because a sausage roll to me is a pastry filled roll, regardless of it’s contents. But, my opinions are different to yours which may present a conflict, because a vegetarian might immediately decline food named thus, regardless of how lovely it sounds.
On the other hand ‘Mushroom Rolls’ sounds a bit odd to me. Then came ‘Mushroom (Sausage) Rolls’? That’s just awkward and looks horrible. ‘Vegetarian Sausage Rolls’? Sounds like they’re filled with vegetarian sausages. ‘Mushroom Filled Vegetarian Sausage Rolls’ which is highly descriptive and might be good on a menu, but Google might think it’s in the wrong order and sadly bloggers like me have to think about these things, because I want people to actually find my recipes.
Vegetarian Sausage Rolls
After what seems like hours, days and weeks, yet was most probably just several minutes of deliberation and a discussion on Twitter (actually, no-one replied. Boo.) I ended up back with the straightforward, no nonsense, Google friendly ‘Vegetarian Sausage Rolls’ appended with the delightfully descriptive, if slightly verbose ‘with Mushroom and Comté’ that you’ll find adorning the head of this page now.
Luckily, after all of this hard work and turmoil, I can take respite in my stock of delightfully light, flaky, crusty, mushroom, onion and Comté filled vegetarian sausage rolls, which I can re-heat, then slice open to reveal the oozing, unctuous cheese and watch it stretch across my plate before going about them like a small child who’s just been released to find the hidden eggs on Easter Sunday.
There's not mush-room in here.Sorry, awful pun.
When you fry mushrooms, it’s important that they have lots of space in the pan. Mushrooms contain a lot of water and when you cook them, this comes out. If you have a big pan and the mushrooms are spread out, then this water cooks off quickly as you go, leaving a dry pan. If you pile them up in a small saucepan, you’ll end up with a mushroom soup.
For this recipe, we want to avoid having soggy fillings, as that can end up resulting in soggy pastry. You need to get the mushrooms cooked well so that they’re dry and not sitting in a pool of mushroom juices.
Vegetarian Sausage Rolls with Mushroom and Comté
By Gavin Wren
Uses a saucepan, baking tray and rolling pin
Half a batch of spelt rough puff from my recipe, or you can use about 300g pre-made puff pastry.
500g mixed, strong flavoured mushrooms. I used mini portabella and shiitake.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced.
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp dried thyme
80g Comté cheese, cut into 5mm dice
1 beaten egg
Pre heat your oven to gas mark 9, 475ºC, 246ºC, 226ºC fan. For more info about oven temperatures, read my free guide, here.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and fry for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasinally, until well softened, but turn the heat down if they start to go any more than golden brown. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another couple of minutes.
Remove the onion mix from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Place the pan back on a high heat and add another tablespoon of oil, then add the mushrooms. Cook for about 8 minutes until they are well softened, all the moisture has come out of them and it’s a dry pan. Turn off the heat and remove the mushrooms, mixing them with the onion/garlic mix and leave to cool. Finally, add the comte cheese and mix thoroughly, then chill in the fridge. You can prepare this mix several hours in advance.
Roll out the pastry to a square about 30cm x 30cm, it should be around 4-5mm thick. Slice it in half, so you have two pieces 30cm x 15cm.
Lay half of the onion mix down the (30cm long) middle of once piece of pastry, making a big pile that runs nearly to the edges of the pastry. Roll the pastry over the top and really try to squeeze the contents in, making an effort to roll the pastry tight against the mushroom mix. As you reach the end of the roll, brush the last 1cm ‘tail’ of pastry with egg, then finish rolling. The egg acts as a glue to seal the roll.
You might need to prod pieces of mushroom mix back into the ends of the roll, then trim off 1-2cm of pastry from each end to make them nice and square. Slice the roll in half, place on a piece of greaseproof paper on a grille over a baking tray. Brush all over the top with the beaten egg. Place in the fridge. Repeat with the other piece of pastry then leave in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Once they’re all prepared and chilled, bake for 25 minutes. Check after twenty minutes, they should be well puffed and browned on top.