How is your Christmas holiday going so far? Mine is great also due to the last minute fact that my sister-in-law is coming to Taipei! Yay!, she's coming all the way from Holland, arriving on Christmas day. It's really unexpected but we couldn't be happier!!!
But while that was all happening (oh, and I still need to buy Christmas presents, aah!) I was thinking about a Christmas lunch. It got me wondering if people even have Christmas lunches. We for example, have breakfast during lunch time because we like to sleep in (lazy Christmases are the best). Or I would eat so much at breakfast time i'm full till dinner time. So I choose a dish that could be served during lunch time or as a starter before dinner. Just in case. It's a small, fun looking, very French and old fashioned dish called: Bouchée à la Reine.
If you're familiar with the dish you know it's traditionally served in a circle shaped pastry shell (Vol au Vent). Well, since it's Christmas and I believe traditions need to be broken (a little), I made star shaped pastry shells. In order to make these you need to make your own puff pastry dough like I did (it's really easy, use this recipe) or buy dough at the store. You can even buy ready to use pastry shells, to be found in the supermarket freezer. But these will be round shaped obviously.
Star shaped Vol au Vent (puff pastry cups)
makes 8 pastry shells
puff pastry dough (store bought or home made)
Take a star shaped pastry cutter and cut out 8 stars. Place them on a baking sheet. Take the same size pastry cutter and cut 8 identical sized stars. Now we have 16 stars. Take a slightly smaller round cutter and cut a hole in the middle of only 8 stars. Cover the first 8 stars (without the holes) with egg wash. Place the other cut pastry with the hole in the middle, on top of the base. Pinch small holes in the middle of the stars using a small fork. This will prevent the middle part from rising too much. Brush the top with the egg wash. Make sure the egg wash stays on the top and doesn't slide down along the sides because the egg wash will prevent the dough from rising once it hits the sides. Bake in a 200°C oven for around 10-12 minutes.
Once the stars are baked remove a little dough in the middle, using a small knife or fork, to make the holes a little deeper.
Bouchée à la Reine
recipe adapted from Mimi Thorisson at Manger, slightly edited by me
fills around 8 pastry shells plus a little more
Ingredients part 1
8 vol-au-vent pastry shells home made or store bought
3 chicken filets, diced
70 grs/ 1/2 cup morel mushrooms, chopped (or any mushroom of your choice)
1 small onion, chopped
30 grs/ 2 tbsp butter
15 ml/ 1 tbsp white wine
Handful of chopped parsley
Ingredients part 2
60 grs/ 1/4 cup butter
40 grs/ 1/4 cup flour
480 ml/ 1 cup milk
a pinch of thyme
1/2 cube chicken stock, crumbled
half a glass of wine
Coarse salt and pepper for seasoning
In a pan, fry the onion in the butter until soft and golden, add the diced chicken and fry for 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry 4-5 minutes – add the white wine and let the sauce reduce for 3 minutes. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven 150° C.
Prepare the bechamel sauce – melt the butter in a casserole, and gradually add the flour and the milk with a whisk on medium heat. Crumble in the cube of chicken stock. It should become thicker and thicker. By now you can add the half glass of wine. Lower the heat and stir firmly and quickly until desired thickness. Set aside.
Take out the pastry shells and heat for 8-10 minutes. Now you can mix the chicken with the bechamel sauce. Reheat slightly for 2 minutes on a low-heat. Fill generously each shell and place top ‘hat’ shell on top (optional). Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
This would match perfectly with a salad on the side.