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Gombás rétes püré pirospaprika

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10 September 2014 at 22:36
Gombás rétes püré pirospaprika
Mushroom Strudel with Red Bell Pepper Purée

Today, I was fortunate enough to read Tomas's outstanding post about his recent mushroom gathering:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/mushroom-dishes_topic4197.html

As I read it, I was reminded of a little treasure that I had lurking in the bottom of my email inbox; back in mid-March of this year, Brook and I had a conversation via email about a splendid and unique dish that I enjoyed on a business trip: Mushroom Strudel with Red Bell Pepper Purée. Over the course of a few exchanges, I am pretty sure that we came up with a plausible procedure that could be used to re-create it.

I've often thought that our chats would make a good "running thread" in the "Kitchen Table" section of this forum, but this exchange sees like it would do quite well right here. I decided to place this dish in the Hungarian section of the forum, because I always associate strudels with Hungary; however, the truth is that this dish would probably be at home anywhere in central Europe, and possibly quite a few places in eastern Europe, as well.

Here is the conversation that Brook and I had

Originally posted by Ron Ron wrote:

I traveled to Lewistown (150-mile trip, one of the most beautiful towns in Montana.... We lived there between 2001 and 2004) for an insurance conference (not as boring as it sounds - actually pretty interesting. The presenter is the brother of actor William H. Macy, but that's beside the point. He's good and knows how to make insurance interesting ... lol). 

Anyway, The convention was held at the Yogo Inn (www.yogoinn.com - named after the yogo sapphires that are found in the area), which is where I worked when we lived there. Because of this, the entire trip was a bit of a homecoming for me, and I was impressed with how the town and the Yogo Inn had passed the years.
 
The restaurant at the Yogo Inn was good when I worked there, but seemed even better now, with a nice makeover and a new menu that incorporated old favourites with some fresh new concepts. I arrived at lunchtime and chose the lunch special, which was something I don't get the opportunity to try very often (breaded catfish and home-made fries/chips - yeah, I know...catfish! but this is trout/walleye country....lol). Anyway, it was very good, with a good home-made tartar sauce. 

When the time came for supper, I decided to skip the steak I had been planning on, and instead took a chance on the supper special, which they called a "mushroom strudel;. 

All I can say is, "You must try this...."
 
My description might not be perfect, but I am sure that it is very close, and I'm willing to bet that you would be able to do a reasonable re-creation, if you want to. Think of an round, slightly-oval cut section from a  baked "log" - with a total diametre of perhaps 5 inches and maybe 1.5 to 2 inches tall/thick.  The outside is a layer of phyllo or some other thin, layered pastry, perhaps a quarter-inch thick, probably a little less. Inside, the filling is not pin-wheel/rolled-up style, it fills the entire pastry circle and is not rolled up with pastry in it. It is composed of maybe 75% mushrooms (more in a moment about these), with a layer of spinach that would be on "top" of the mushrooms if the slice was stood on its edge. topping the spinach is a thin layer of coarsely-chopped red bell pepper. 

(Okay, now in your mind, lay the slice back down on the plate). 

Topping the slice is a simple red-pepper (not hot pepper) purée. The seasoning must be very simple, but very effective, simply salt and pepper in the filling, and possibly (probably) some butter. There might be some herbs, but I couldn't say which - none stood out. The phyllo/strudel must also of course be brushed with butter, I imagine. 

That's it - simple, but very effective. The mushrooms inside are crimini mushrooms, which I had never had before - but really enjoyed. The layer of red pepper was small, but if I were to make this, I would probably omit it or use tomato. The red pepper puree was very good and worked perfectly with the dish.
 
So, I imagine that making this would entail laying out phyllo or strudel dough, brushing with butter, taking the seasoned mushrooms (lots and lots of mushrooms, which appear to be very coarsely chopped, plus maybe salt, pepper and butter) and arranging them in a "log" across the length of the pastry in the centre. Actually, now that I think about it, it might make more sense to make the mushroom log in advance (roling it in saran wrap) and chill or freeze it to hold its shape. Anyway, once the log is down, top it with a decent layer of spinach, then the coarsely-chopped red pepper. Then bring up the sides of the pastry and seal it, brush it with butter and bake it. Not sure if the ends are open and closed but I am guessing closed, to seal in the juices etc. When it's done, let it rest a few minutes, then slice carefully and serve, topped with the purée, which seems to have been very simply seasoned with just a little salt and pepper....

Easy, right?

The strudel was served with some simple boiled/steamed/braised slices of zucchini, squash and broccoli - lightly seasoned and perhaps with some herbs - and home-made garlic mashed potatoes. All-in-all, it was very good, much better than I thought it would be, and I am glad I ordered it.
 
Let me know what you think - those crimini mushrooms were really, really good - texture and flavour-wise, I was amazed. I am used to just common "white" mushrooms and whatever canned mushrooms are - I like those, but this was another dimension.

Originally posted by Brook Brook wrote:

 One correction on your guestimate of how the mushroom strudel was done. You don’t arrange the filling in the middle. Rather, you do it close to the near edge. If using phylo, you use two or three sheets, each liberally brushed with melted butter. Start the log with the spinach. Top it with the mushrooms. Then the peppers.

Fold the edge of the pastry over the log, so it covers it completely. Roll one more time, thus fully enclosing the veggie log. Then fold the side edges inwards, to create an envelope, and continue rolling until reaching the far edge. Transfer to your baking pan, seam side down, and bake.

By the way, crimini mushrooms are just the brown version of white buttons. If you can't find them, just go with baby bellas instead. You want that deeper, more earthy flavor.

I've always wondered why red pepper puree isn't used more often. It's a great condiment, and lends itself to pairing with an incredible number of flavors. Plus, of course, you can ring the changes on it, just as you do with tomato sauce. Extend that thought out, and think of how nicely the various colored peppers would work. You can produce red, yellow, or orange versions with no problem whatsoever.

Originally posted by Ron Ron wrote:

I should have known you'd be familiar wth that dish - it was certainly a good one! Your explanation of the assembly makes perfect sense ~ I just might try it sometime.

Originally posted by Brook Brook wrote:

Can't say I'm familiar with that specific dish. But the technique is fairly common. The only difference between it and traditional strudel is the use of phyllo rather than strudel dough.
 
I well remember my mom and her friends making strudel. This was a once-a-year thing, and the dough was stretched and pulled until it literally covered the kitchen table. Then the filling was laid on, as I described, and the dough rolled. This is what give strudel its distinctive many-thin-layers pastry. Phyllo is a great substitute, as it provides the same end effect for those of us who are dough-rolling challenged. 
 
I think the big surprise to most people is the idea of a savory strudel. We tend to think of them as sweets. But throughout central Europe (and, I would presume, other places), savory fillings are just as common as sweet ones.  
 
You might keep that in mind, because savory strudels make great picnic foods. Think how great a thick slice of, say, ham and cheese strudel would be on a fishing trip, in lieu of a sandwich.

With that, I hope there is enough information here for someone to give this a try, and perhaps complete a pictorial for the forum. If I get the chance, Ill give it a go, especially with winter coming.

As I said above, I believe that the exchange between Brook and myself provides a good foundation for re-creating this dish, but if anyone has any suggestions, I would be grateful to hear them. Does the filling need a binder? Are there any herbs or spices that would adhere to the central-European theme, whilst also complimenting the dish? Please, feel free to contribute your thoughts, comments and suggestions!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2014 at 07:47
Something Ron and I didn't specifically discuss is that the mushrooms are cooked before being used as a filling. To prevent sogginess, when they start releasing their liquid, increase the heat and cook until all (or most) of the liquid is gone.

I've also looked at mushroom strudel recipes since Ron and I had our original discussion. Many of them call for puff pastry rather than phylo.

To me, strudel---whether sweet or savory---always implies multiple layers of paper-thin pastry. So, while the puff-pastry versions might be very nice, I have a problem with the concept.
But we hae meat and we can eat
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Furtwangler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2014 at 12:47

Certainly, the mushrooms must be cooked. It's virtually impossible otherwise.

My guess is that originally, mushrooms strudels would be made with a thin stretched dough. However, frozen strudel or phyllo dough tends to be difficult to get around here, but you can buy puff pastry anywhere. And you know, most people are too lazy to stretch the dough themselves (been there, know what it's like). Therefore it will be common to use puff pastry, with the proper way reserved for the revered sour-cherry-and-poppy-seed or apple-and-walnut classics.

What I would add to the filling is some soaked bun and an egg to bind it. Parsley certainly. Dill would be quite realistic, but I'm not sure how it would combine with the red pepper puree in this case. Otherwise, not so many herbs are used here (celery leaves, lovage, chives are common, too, but not in such dishes). Breadcrumbs perhaps if it's too wet.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 September 2014 at 20:24
The thing is, Furtwangler, I've learned that you can't assume people understand basic procedures. So it's better to state what might be obvious (i.e., cooking the mushrooms), then assume they'd know to do that.

Ron and I had more discussion than is reflected in this thread. One aspect dealt with strudel dough. I well remember my Mom and her friends making strudel, and how, when they were done, the stretched dough literally covered the kitchen table.

That's not the sort of skill you learn by reading a cookbook, of course. It pays if you start as a child, learning at your mother's knee.

I don't think it's so much laziness, nowadays (though there's certainly some of that) as lacking the requisite skill set. Look at me: I can't even roll pie dough decently, let alone stretch it. But, then again, I'm a cook, not a baker.

Phyllo, which is commonly available in the States, is a fair substitute. And it results in that many-layered, flaky pastry that is typical of strudel.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 September 2014 at 14:42
You make good points Brook. Too many times we assume people know what we're talking about, just because, it's the way you do it, and we know what we're doing.
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