Chive and Sea Salt Short Breads with Pickled Pear and Montgomery Air
Coming up with new and interesting ideas for canapés all the time can be tricky. The requirements are many and varied, they need to be mainstream, mostly vegetarian, one mouth full, have the wow factor, be tasty, not messy, easy to eat and so the list goes on and on. As a matter of fact I’m involved with drinks and canapé events all the year round so the need for inspiration and creativity is a constant demand.
Most chefs might cringe at the thought of a cheese foam as they think it’s passé; but then I’m so pleased food is subjective and it works for me. It’s a technique developed in my cooking era, something not from the Larousse and a technique I think that will last for a while and will make it’s mark on the culinary map.
I have chosen to use Montgomery cheddar for this cheesy foam as it’s strong, packs a punch and a very little goes a long way. The crispy bacon adds a meaty smoky saltiness to this delicious canapé the only thing missing is a glass of bubbly! Salute!
Ingredients & Method
Chive and Sea Salt Shortbread
- 200g unsalted butter, room temperature
- Pinch of Maldon sea salt
- 25g caster sugar
- 1 free range egg yolk
- 2tsp double cream
- 50g finely grated Montgomery Cheddar
- 1tbs chopped chives
- 250g plain flour, sifted
- 2 rashers of smoked back bacon
- 150g grated Montgomery
- Cheddar 100ml water
- 100ml double cream
- 1 leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water
- 2 firm but ripe pears
- 2tsp white wine vinegar
- 1tsp caster sugar
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1tbs walnut oil
- 1tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 5 in number coriander seeds, crushed
For the Chive and Sea Salt Shortbread. Preheat the oven to 160 °C. Cream the soft butter, salt and sugar until pale in colour and light and creamy. Add the egg yolk and cream together. Fold in the cheese, chives and sifted plain flour and mix until the dough represents coarse breadcrumbs. Do not over work the mixture as it will make the dough elasticated. Push the dough together and wrap it in clingfilm, refrigerate for 1 hour.
Thermomix Method for the dough:
Weigh the butter, salt and sugar directly into the TM bowl, blend on speed 10 for 20 seconds. Insert the butterfly whisk and cream the mixture on speed 4 for 1 minute. Add the egg yolk and double cream and cream again on speed 4 for 30 seconds. The mixture will become light and fluffy.
Remove the butterfly whisk and add the chives and cheese, secure the lid, set the dial to lock position and press the “turbo” button a couple of times to incorporate the cheese and chives.
Add the sifted flour, secure the lid and turn the dial to the lock position and press the “turbo” button a couple of times to incorporate the flour, the mixture will look like coarse breadcrumbs. Do not over work the dough as the shortbread dough will become elasticated. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and push it together with your hands, do not kneed the dough. Wrap it tightly in clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll the shortbread out about 3mm thick on a lightly floured work surface or between two sheets of parchment paper. Cut into 1 1/2 ” squares and line the inside of a miniature muffin tray.
Bake the shortbread in the preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes, carefully turn them out and leave to cool and crisp up.
Once cooled keep the shortbread in an airtight container until needed.
For the Bacon Dust. Preheat the grill, lay the bacon on a baking tray and grill the bacon until very crispy, turn it a couple of times during the cooking process to ensure the bacon is completely dry and crispy without it being burnt.
Let the bacon cool on a cooling rack, this will allow it to crisp up, pat dry with kitchen paper and remove as much fat as possible. Once the bacon is cold break it into even size pieces. Turn the thermomix on with the blades running at speed 10, drop the bacon all at once onto the running blades and place the measuring cup in place, grind for 20 seconds or until you are satisfied with the bacon crumb texture. If you do not have a Thermomix you could use an ordinary blender or alternatively chop the cooked bacon by hand but the texture needs to be as fine as possible. The bacon crumb is now ready to be used.
For the Montgomery Air. Bring the water and cream to 80°C in a small saucepan, add the cheese and drained gelatine and blend the mixture until smooth. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve and pour it into a 1/2 L siphon bottle or cream whipper, secure the lid and charge with two gas pellets, shake the cream whipper vigorously and refrigerate to cool.
For the Pickled Pears. Peel the pear and remove the seeds, finely dice into about 2 – 3mm pieces. Gently mix all the ingredients together and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
To Serve, lay the shortbreads out on a tray. Drain the pickled pears and spoon a small amount into each shortbread cup. Shake the cream whipper vigorously, if the mixture has solidified, dip the cream whipper in warm water to loosen the contents. Squirt a small amount on top of the pickled pears and garnish each with the bacon dust, a sprinkle of chopped thyme and a dusting of paprika, serve immediately.