There’s nothing more retro than vol-au-vents. This party favourite is making a comeback. They’re easy enough to make if you cheat (and we’ll tell you how) and now you can jazz them up with a variety of modern fillings.
Vol-au-vent is the French name for a puff pastry case. Vol-au-vent, pronounced vol-ah-vahn, means “windblown”, an apt description for the light-as-air pastry. Making the pastry cases by hand is time-consuming and fiddly, so it’s easy enough to cheat. You can purchase pre-made vol-au-vent cases from the bakery section in your supermarket. Dispose of the packaging and no-one will ever guess you haven’t been slaving away in the kitchen for hours. Besides, it’s the filling which counts, right?
Chicken and tarragon
- 1 chicken breast (if you’re extra lazy you can get a pre-cooked chicken from the supermarket)
- 250 millilitres thickened cream
- 1 tablespoon tarragon, finely diced
- 1 spring onion, finely diced
- If you’re cheating with a pre-cooked chicken, skip this step. If you’re making the filling from scratch, you’ll need a saucepan. Put the chicken breast in the pan and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiled remove from the heat and allow to poach for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Allow the chicken to cool before finely dicing.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- In a small saucepan, bring the cream to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook at a low temperature for about eight minutes or until the cream thickens.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the chicken, tarragon and spring onion.
- Spoon mixture into pre-made vol-au-vent cases, making sure the filling is piled above the pastry case.
- Place filled pastry cases on a baking tray and cook for approximately eight minutes or until golden brown.
Kangaroo is more readily available in Australia these days and it’s the preferred choice for people who want protein and low fat.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 400 grams kangaroo steak, finely diced
- 200 grams button mushrooms, finely diced
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 sticks celery, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 200 gram-can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup low sodium beef stock
- 1/4 cup dry red wine or stock
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Black pepper to taste
- In a large frying pan, heat oil, add half the meat and cook for three to five minutes, constantly stiring until brown. Remove and set aside.
- In the same frying pan, add mushrooms, onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until onion is soft.
- Add meat, tomato, wine, stock, rosemary and mixed herbs.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine. Turn heat to low and cover with tightly-fitting lid, cook, stirring occasionally until meat is tender, normally about 90 minutes.
- Season and stir in tomato paste.
- Spoon into pastry cases and bake in moderate oven until golden brown.
- 250 millilitres thickened cream
- 1 packet frozen berries
- 1 packet marshmallows
- 1 packet chocolate morsels
- In a large bowl, use an electric beater to whip up the cream.
- Add the packet of frozen berries and mix well.
- Dice marshmallows and add chocolate morsels to taste.
- Follow the directions on pastry cases and bake them until golden brown. Allow to cool before spooning in Ambrosia.
- Optional extra: Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate morsels.
You can cook the pastry cases the night before but don’t fill them until prior to serving.