Le Pain Quotidien’s recipe innovator, Clare Sheppard, brings us her best festive recipes for effortless entertaining this festive period– smoked salmon blinis, homemade mince pies and pecan cookies. Le Pain Quotidien restaurants can be found across London and the company has recently opened their latest branch in Borough Market.
Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraiche Blinis
220g self raising flour (or 110g buckwheat flour and 110g self raising)
2 eggs, separated
½ tsp baking powder if using buckwheat flour
Place flour (or flours) into a mixing bowl and beat in the egg yolks. Add milk and beat in. Whisk egg whites separately and fold into the mixture.
Heat a non-stick pan and melt the butter. When sizzling, drop spoonfuls of your mixture into the pan. Use teaspoons for canapé size and a dessert spoon for bigger blinis for starters. When you see holes appearing, flip over and cook until browned.
Do not overdo this as they need to be light and airy. If you have a lot to do, make these ahead of time and freeze in an airtight bag. When you want to use, take them from the freezer and pop them in the oven to warm when serving - gas mark 4/350F for 6 minutes.
Dollop a spoon of crème fraiche onto each blini, then add a swirl of smoked salmon and a sprig of dill. Top with black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Easy as that!
125g castor sugar
375g plain flour
250g dark brown sugar
1 orange rind and juice
1 lemon rind and juice
1 apple, peeled and grated
1 tsp brandy
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
Making the pastry
Mix flour and sugar gently, then add soft butter. Mix until it forms balls. Try not to over mix but you will have to work it until it holds together nicely. Chill for a few hours or overnight if you can. This quantity of pastry will make about 24 large mince pies or 50 mini mince pies.
Making the mincemeat
Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. The mixture must be moist otherwise the pies will be too dry; if that's the case, keep adding orange juice and brandy until moist. The mixture gets better with time so leave to settle if you can.
Making the pies
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/fan 180°C
Take the pastry out of the fridge 1 hour before use and let it soften. Roll onto a floured surface using wax paper between the pastry and your rolling pin. Make sure pastry is thin but not paper thin. Cut with the third smallest cutter, dust with flour and place in a well-greased tin. Be careful not to push down too hard. Fill with mincemeat as much as possible but be careful not to overflow as the pie can then stick and break.
Top the pie with the smallest cutter or the 2nd smallest. Brush the tops of the pies with the beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. To serve, lightly dust with icing sugar. They will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container.
240g castor sugar
125g pecan nuts (blended coarsely)
50ml double cream
1 tsp cinnamon
In a saucepan heat the butter, sugar, cream, cinnamon and coarsely blended pecans. Gently cook, stirring continuously until mixture boils. Once boiled, immediately tip in the flour and mix until it is an even, smooth mass.
Place in spoonfuls on a baking tray. Do this quickly so the mixture does not spread too much. Do not worry if it does, just smooth the mixture into a biscuit shape as they do not always naturally spread on the tin when baking.
Bake in the oven at 350F/180°C/gas mark 4 for 10 minutes. They will come out looking lacy and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve by the fire on a chilly Christmas night!