Festive Pecan-Chestnut-Mushroom Wellington!

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I wanted to try something different for this Thanksgiving holiday and BOSH’s mushroom Wellington caught my eye. I liked their concept but found it needed a few tweaks to suit my tastes and North American realities (e.g. Portobello mushrooms where I am in Canada are about 4x larger than their UK cousins and our garlic in southwestern Ontario is at least twice as strong as what’s available more broadly).

I also simplified the assembly, gave some actual measurement to a few ingredients, such as the amount of pie dough needed, and added a few more directions to save unseasoned cooks from incinerating their creations.

My end result is a festive, pretty and not very mushroom-y creation. I found the dish was a little dry so I served it with gravy.

You will need a food processor for this recipe.

Ingredients:

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For the mushrooms:

2 portobello mushrooms – cleaned and stems removed and very gilly pieces removed (I don’t like the gills!)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme

2 Tbsp olive oil

A sprinkle of salt

Few grinds black pepper

For the filling

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion finely chopped

1 Tbsp fresh thyme chopped or 1 tsp dried

½ tsp poultry season

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

1 cup white wine

1 tsp brown sugar

2 cups cooked chestnuts

2 cups pecans

2 slices seeded bread ( I used 3 slices of Ezekiel bread since it’s a smaller loaf)

1/2 cup vegetable stock (or water, or even soy or almond milk)

For the Wellington case:

750 grams of vegan pie crust

About ½ cup flour for rolling out the dough

I buy frozen pie shells because they’re so inexpensive (and I cannot find just vegan pie dough). I let the shells thaw for at least 20 minutes, then use my hands to wad them up into a ball and then roll them out on a floured surface.

If you’re inclined to make your own pie dough from scratch, here’s an excellent recipe.

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Directions 

The mushrooms
Heat your oven to 395F.

Place the mushrooms on a baking tray, stem side up. Sprinkle with the olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.

Bake the mushrooms for 15 minutes then set aside and allow them to cool.

Leave your oven on.

While the mushrooms are roasting and cooling, make the filling and prepare the crust.

For the filling

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized frying pan. Add the diced onion and fry until it’s translucent.

Add the thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Add a cup of white wine and cook on low for about 10 minutes, letting the wine bubble and reduce in volume almost entirely. Add the brown sugar and let the mixture caramelize.

Transfer this mixture to a large bowl.

Place the pecans and bread in a food processor and whiz into crumbs. Add to the bowl of onions.

Place the chestnuts and mushrooms in the food processor and whiz until they are like crumbs. Add to the bowl with the onions and pecan mixture and pour in the broth. Stir everything to combine and set aside.

Sprinkle flour on a clean smooth surface and also dust a rolling pin with flour. Take half of your pie dough and roll it out forming a rectangular sheet.*

Place this dough sheet on a large rectangular cookie sheet.

Spoon the mushroom-pecan-chestnut filling running length-wise down the middle of the sheet of dough. You will need to mound the filling and compress it into place with your hand.

Sprinkle your work surface and rolling pin with more flour and roll out the other half of the pie dough to form another rectangular sheet. Place this sheet on top of mushroom-filling mound to form the top crust of your Wellington.

Trim off the edges of the pastry with a sharp knife to form an oval. You can use any excess dough to cut shapes to decorate your Wellington with.

Seal the edges of the dough where the crusts meet with a fork.

If you’re decorating your Wellington with dough shapes (hearts, leaves, stars etc.), add them to the Wellington now. You can adhere them with a little bit of water dabbed onto the Wellington and the dough shape with the tip of your finger

Use a knife or fork to cut slits or holes into the Wellington to let steam escape.

Cover your Wellington in foil and bake for 20 minutes at 395C (See? I told you not to turn off your oven for a reason). After 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking the Wellington for 10-20 minutes more depending on your oven. You want a golden finish, with no burning.

Use a bread knife to cut your Wellington into slices.

*Super lazy, easy, just as yummy option if you use premade pie shells like I do– leave two of the pie shells in their pie pans. Fill each pie shell with half the mushroom-pecan-chestnut filling. Roll out the other two pie shells and cut them into tops for the pies. Use a fork to seal the top and bottom crusts. Cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake your mushroom Wellington as per the directions above.

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Chestnut cookies with almond drizzle

ChestnutCookies

I love chestnuts and eat them throughout the fall and winter. They work in savoury dishes such as my stuffed acorn squash and in sweet dishes, like these cookies.

Roasting your own chestnuts is charming and also dangerous and labour intensive – a lot like dating. So I buy my chestnuts already roasted. You can find these chestnuts in 100 gram bags at grocery stores and even the dollar store. Aurora is one well known brand.

These cookies are not too sweet and dangerously addictive.

Ingredients

Cookies

100 grams roasted chestnuts (about 9-11 chestnuts)

1/3 cup pecans

2 Tbsp flax or chia seeds

6 Tbsp plant-based milk (I use almond)

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ tsp each of ginger and allspice

¾ tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup brown sugar lightly packed

¼ cup melted coconut oil

Almond drizzle

¾ cup icing sugar

½ tsp almond extract

1-2 Tbsp plant based milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl or cup, mix the chia or flax seeds and 6 tablespoons plant milk. Combine to create 2 flax or chia“eggs”. Set aside.

Grind the chestnuts and pecans and 1 tablespoon of the flour in a food processor until you have a mealy consistency.

In a mixing bowl combine the chestnut/pecan mixture with the flour, spices, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. I recommend sifting in the flour, spices and baking powder.

Add the vanilla, oil and “eggs” and mix everything together. I find it’s easiest just to combine everything with my hands. You will have a ball of slightly oily-feeling dough when you’re done.

Pinch off a bit of dough and roll it into a ball about the size of a walnut. Place the ball on an ungreased cookie sheet and press the ball down slightly to flatten it. Repeat. You should end up with 24 cookies.

Bake for 6-10 minutes. Let cool.

To make the icing drizzle, combine the 3 ingredients in a small bowl or cup. Start with one tablespoon of milk and add more if needed, but be patient. You’ll feel like the sugar is never going to turn into icing and in a blink of an eye, it will transform.

When the cookies are cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cookies. The drizzle will set in about 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Acorn squash stuffed with quinoa pilaf

QuinoaPilaf

I love this dish. It’s simultaneously elegant enough for company dinners but comforting and easy. Funny thing, I’m not a huge fan of squash, but by this time of the year, I’m craving it. There must be something in it that does a body good.

This makes 4 servings (1/2 squash per person).

Ingredients

2 acorn squash

1 cup uncooked quinoa

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup chopped dried apricots

½ cup chestnuts (already cooked and peeled) – optional

1 cup kale washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

1 onion – diced

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp coconut oil

A pinch of chili seeds

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 – 2 Tbsp maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Set the oven to 350. Wash the acorn squash and cut in half around the equator (i.e. not lengthwise). Scoop out the seeds and place the squash cut side up on a cookie sheet. You may want to cut off a bit of the bottom of each squash half so they sit upright. Drizzle each half with 1 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes. When they’re done, the squash will be soft when pierced with a fork.

Rinse the quinoa and put it in a pot with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce to a simmer and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. If you want to be super fancy, you could boil the quinoa in vegetable broth or half broth and half water.

When the quinoa is cooked and still hot, place in a large bowl with the kale, chestnuts (if using) and apricots. The hot quinoa is enough to “cook” the kale.

In a medium-sized, non-stick skillet sauté the onion in the remaining olive oil and the coconut oil, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chopped pecans, the chili seeds, nutmeg, mustard and maple syrup. Stir together and heat through and then add to the bowl with the quinoa and fruit and kale. Stir together.

Spoon ¼ of the quinoa into each of the squash halves and enjoy!!

If you want to make something much simpler and more casserole-like, cube the cooked squash and toss it with the quinoa mix.

TIP: This dish is also excellent with dried cherries and walnuts instead of apricots and pecans. Replace the nutmeg, mustard and chili seeds with ¼ tsp cumin and 1 tsp dried crumbled sage. Omit the maple syrup.