Our Daring Cooks challenge this month was to cook something en papillote – a method of cooking in which the food is put into a folded pouch made of specially treated baking paper (parchment) or foil and then baked. This is a fairly common cooking method for fish or chicken and I checked out a few recipe sites and found some vegetarian options, but in a flash of madness/inspiration I decided to stop googling and start thinking. Basically, it’s just a matter of choosing ingredients that go well together and that cook fairly quickly and in the same amount of time. I’d had a Greek-style feta and eggplant parcel several times at a friend’s place so I knew a non-melty cheese would work, then I thought about tofu and other vegetables. And fruit. So each of the recipes here I pretty much made up myself after getting inspiration from all over the place. As for the paper-folding, I took the easiest ways out. If you want to check out the traditional heart-shaped pouch, there’s a guide to cutting and folding in the pdf (link below).
First cab off the rank was Greek-style halloumi and spinach en papillote, simply because I had a block of halloumi in the fridge that needed using.
250g block halloumi, cut into 6 strips
150g spinach, roughly torn
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 sprigs fresh oregano
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Prepare your parchment or foil by cutting 2 pieces each about 30cm square.
Take the halloumi strips and lay half of them in the centre of each parchment or foil sheet, more or less in a square.
Blanch the spinach until just wilted and distribute over halloumi. Lay the sliced tomatoes over the spinach and dot the top with olives. Lay a sprig of oregano on the top.
Lift sides of parchment or foil to the middle and fold the edges over each other a few times to create a good seal. Twist the ends of the packets and tie tightly with twine.
Put the packets on a tray and bake for 25 minutes.
Depending on how juicy your tomatoes are, you may have a bit of liquid in the packets after cooking, in which case you’ll need to remove the food from the packets before plating. Otherwise, cut the packets open on the plates. Serve with a salad of sliced cucumbers and onions tossed in a garlic, lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette on the side and some warm bread.
Next up was Asian-style tofu and mushrooms en papillote
200g firm tofu, sliced into slabs 1cm thick
50g dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and thickly sliced
2 small red onions, halved and sliced into thin rings
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 spring onions (shallots/green onions/scallions), chopped, for garnish
Whisk the garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, ginger and chilli flakes together in a medium bowl until sugar is completely dissolved. Marinate the tofu in the mixture for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Prepare your parchment or foil by cutting 2 rectangles about 20cm wide and 40cm long.
Take the tofu out of the marinade and lay half the slabs in the centre of each parchment or foil sheet.
Toss the mushrooms and onions in the remaining marinade until coated and distribute over tofu. Drizzle with remaining marinade.
Lift sides of parchment or foil to the middle and fold the edges over each other a few times to create a good seal. Twist the ends of the packets and tie tightly with string.
Put the packets on a tray and bake for 20 minutes.
You may have a bit of liquid in the packets after cooking, in which case you’ll need to remove the food from the packets before plating. Otherwise, cut the packets open on the plates. Sprinkle with spring onions and serve with some noodles or rice and some stir-fried greens such as bok choy on the side.
Pears en papillote were last but definitely not least
5 pears (I used Abate Fetel)
juice of half a lemon
1 cup sultanas
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp orange juice
75g butter, melted
3 tbsp raw sugar
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Prepare your parchment or foil by cutting 5 pieces each about 30cm x 40cm.
Peel, halve and core the pears, place them in a bowl and gently rub with lemon juice. Set aside.
Put the sultanas in a small saucepan, stir in the honey and orange juice and bring to a simmer. Take off heat and set aside for the sultanas to soften.
Pour the melted butter over the pear halves and gently turn to coat, then sprinkle with sugar.
Place two pear halves side by side, yin-yang style, on each piece of parchment and top each half with a spoonful of sultanas. Drizzle with any remaining liquid from the sultanas and from the bowl.
Pull the corners of the parchment up and gather into a pouch. Tie tightly with string, tucking closed all around to create a seal.
Put the packets on a tray and bake for 40 minutes.
Untie the packets on plates and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Daring Cooks Blog-checking lines: Our July 2012 Daring Cooks’ host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”.
Download the printable .pdf file here.