IT IS the Epiphany season, and thoughts turn to crowns. We do not have much of a culinary tradition for this feast, but perhaps this Epiphany ham crown recipe may help. Serve it with tinned plum tomatoes, which must be overdue a revival by now, or baked beans and mashed potato.
500g (18 oz) block of puff pastry
250g (9 oz) tub of soft (cream) cheese
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard (optional)
3 sprigs of thyme
freshly ground black pepper
8-12 slices of ham
1 egg, beaten
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Roll the pastry out to the size of a tray, or at least two dinner-plates. Spread over the cream cheese, and the mustard, if you are using it, then sprinkle with thyme leaves and black pepper. Cover this with the ham slices. Don’t worry if they overlap. Carefully, roll from the left and right side tightly into the centre like a scroll. Cut down the middle to give yourself two rolls.
Now cut each roll in half lengthways, to give four long stuffed pastry sausages. Twist each one around so that it forms a spiral, and arrange in a circle on a baking sheet. Be as artistic as you like, but the idea is to come up with a circular form that resembles a crown. Brush everything with the beaten egg, and lightly season.
Place into the preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool slightly, and serve in small wedges.
The New Year waltzes of Vienna still ring in the ears as we look forward to the last hurrah of Shrove Tuesday, and then the Lenten fast. Kaiserschmarren is a “broken pancake” recipe attributed to the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I, who died in 1916. A Tyrolean maiden was apparently so nervous cooking for him that she broke the pancake. Her mother saved the day by breaking it further, and serving it in small pieces.
30 g (1 oz) unsalted butter, plus extra
90g (3 oz) plain flour
30g (1 oz) caster sugar, plus extra
2 eggs, separated
130ml (¼ pt) milk
30g (1 oz) sultanas
4 tablespoons red fruit jam
Melt the butter and cool slightly. Mix in a bowl the flour and sugar, then add the egg yolks and gradually whisk in half the milk to form a smooth batter before adding the remaining milk all at once.
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then fold these into the batter along with the sultanas.
Melt some butter in a frying pan until foamy, then pour in the batter. Shake the pan, and cook until the bottom of the pancake goes golden brown. Flip — with a deft toss or deploying plate and utensils — and cook the other side. Once done, set about it with a pair of forks, and tear into pieces. Turn on to a serving plate, and dredge with a little sugar.
Warm the jam, and serve alongside, either for dipping or pouring.