I bought the Terre A Terre cookbook well over a year ago, at Christmas 2011, and while I have spent hours poring over the recipes it wasn’t until my Easter holiday that I finally dared to attempt anything from it. As the beautiful photographs in the book show, the food is clearly vegetarian fine dining. The actual techniques don’t seem impossible, it’s just the ingredients list, the equipment and timing, the sheer number of components. To make anything from this book must be a labour of love.
But in the holiday I had an abundance of free time, and an old GoodFood Vegetarian magazine pointed out some shortcuts I could take (such as buying Patak’s lime pickle rather than making my own). The original recipe had various accompaniments too, but this was enough of a task for me to take on in my mini kitchen as a first effort from the book. In actual fact, it was surprisingly simple to make and has given me the confidence to give the book another perusal – see if there’s anything else I’m bold enough to tackle!
Don’t be discouraged by the length of the recipe below – there seem to be a million steps, but they’re all very straightforward – just lots of small tasks and a detailed look at the assembly. It doesn’t take long at all to make and is perfectly manageable. It can be done!
Serves 2, slightly adapted from Terre A Terre
1 sheet ready-to-roll puff pastry
200g frozen broad beans, defrosted
1 onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
few parsley leaves
pinch of nutmeg
35g unsalted butter
35g plain flour
1 egg, separated
For the eggwash: 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1tbsp milk
1 tbsp lime pickle
1 tbsp chopped mint
1. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry and divide it into 3 equal strips (it’s worth looking at the dish you’re going to cook the filling in for an idea – the broadbean mousse needs to make two layers so it must be halved and be the same size as the pastry strips). Place them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and chill them in the fridge for an hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 150C and line a baking tin with greaseproof paper. Place the milk in a pan with the bay leaf, parsley, onion and nutmeg. Bring up to a simmer.
3. Once it’s simmering, strain the milk through a sieve and set aside. Discard the oniony mixture.
4. Melt the butter in a clean pan.
5. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes to form a paste.
6. Pour in a third of the milk and stir until completely absorbed.
7. Repeat with the remaining two thirds. Season and remove from the heat.
8. Blitz the broadbeans in a processor until they form a thick puree.
9. Squish the puree through a sieve as best you can (I confess I gave up about halfway through and the finished article was still fine).
10. Fold the broadbean puree and the egg yolk into the sauce.
11. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until soft peaks form.
12. Carefully fold the egg white into the mixture, trying to keep as much volume as possible.
13. Gently spread the broadbean mousse into the tin, evening the surface as best you can.
14. Bake for 30 minutes, until it’s quite firm and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool, then transfer to the fridge to chill until assembly.
15. Remove the pastry from the fridge and increase the oven temperature to 180C. Prick two of the pastry slices with a fork and use the blunt side of a table knife to score crisscrosses in the other (this one goes on the top), then brush all three with the eggwash.
16. Cook for 15 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.
17. The pastry needs to be fairly flat for assembly, so place another piece of baking paper on top, then press down with a clean baking tray. Let the pastry cool slightly before assembling.
18. To assemble, first divide the mousse into two slices and test it against the pastry to check everything will fit together – trim any pieces as necessary.
19. Spread half the lime pickle on one piece of pastry and scatter with half the mint.
20. Place one slice of the broadbean mousse on top and push down gently.
21. Repeat the layers – another pastry slice, scattered with pickle and mint.
22. Carefully push on the other slice of the mousse, and top with the crisscross pastry strip. Ta-da! Use a serrated knife in a gentle sawing motion to slice up the millefeuille.