Like most people burrowing in at home during the pandemic, I’ve done my fair share of binge watching, devouring shows with a bottomless appetite. Not even discerning the finer fare from downright junk food, I’ll swallow them all whole in one sitting, pausing perhaps for a breath of air, but not a crumb will be left when the day is done. As a respite from reality, even the worst programs are still tolerable. When it just so happens that I dig into an actual delicacy, however, it’s a treat that transcends the most substantial meal. It satisfies my creative hunger, while often eliciting a greater craving for creativity.
Dear reader, please don’t judge me, but I fell hard for Bridgerton on Netflix. If you’re not familiar, the basic premise centers around one affluent family during the Regency Era in London, full of love, scandal, and strife. If it were a book, you might even call it a bodice-ripper at points, and yet… Of course, I find myself most captivated by the food. Particularly, the elaborate feasts, huge spreads set for even the most mundane weekday meals. The singular dish that I simply can’t shake from mind, despite the fact that it flashed on the screen for not even a full second, barely even coming into focus, was the most magnificent asparagus pastry I ever laid eyes on.
(Please don’t sue me for the screen shot, Netflix.)
Tireless internet trawling yielded only a few scant scraps. Promising leads, but nothing substantive; certainly not enough to fill up on. Hungry for answers, I decided to write my own script for this savory plot twist.
Raised pastry crusts were very popular at this time, often decorated lavishly by the impressions of fancy copper molds. Lacking such specialized equipment, my crust is made in the same spirit, but as a simpler springform affair. Contrary to delicate doughs that yield a tender yet flaky texture, recipes dating back to this time were sturdy, utilitarian foundations built upon lard and high-gluten flour. Staying true to the spirit of the task while attempting a more edible base, I’ve employed coconut oil alongside softer white whole wheat flour.
More importantly but also more mysteriously, the filling posed a unique challenge. Of course, asparagus should be the primary ingredient, but what else? How did they stay so pert and erect after roasting, and what anchored them in place? Most dinner pies, and most foods on affluent British tables in general, contained meat, and lots of it. Mincemeat was a perennial staple across all classes, but for such a special event, only the best would do. Thus, it’s rational to imagine a hidden pool of luxurious pate holding those spears upright. Rich and buttery, perhaps a touch gamey, duck or pheasant liver might be a good choice. For me, though, canned green beans are the new foie gras. Believe it or not, the once off-putting tinned taste is the very thing that gives this spread the same distinctive notes of iron, along with a satisfying dose of protein. Bolstered with savory herbs and spices, tasting, more than seeing, is believing in this case.
Pert and perky straight out of the oven, my stalks did admittedly begin to droop after the rigors of shooting under hot lights. Next time, I might suggest cutting the spears a bit shorter, to put less strain on the crust and keep them standing tall. My vision was simply too grand to live beyond the specter of a Hollywood set.
It takes a bit of doing to prepare, but a royal feast demands the utmost of care to pull off. With a bit of planning and patience, even those who aren’t lucky enough to be born into high society can partake in this grand, celebratory pastry.
Green Bean Pate:
- 1/4 Cup Vegan Butter
- 1 Small Yellow Onion, Diced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 (14-Ounce) Can Green Beans, Drained
- 1 Cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
- 6 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Rehydrated and Drained
- 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos
- 2 Teaspoons Maple Syrup
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Ground Sage
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Melted Coconut Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons Cold Water
- 6 Pounds Fresh Asparagus, Trimmed
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- Prepare the pate first so it has time to cool before using. Place the butter in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Once melted, add the onion and garlic, sauteing until aromatic, tender, and lightly golden brown; about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to your food processor along with the drained green beans, sunflower seeds, rehydrated mushrooms, vinegar, liquid aminos, and maple syrup. Pulse to begin breaking down the bigger pieces, pausing to scrape down the sides of the canister as needed. Add in the remaining herbs and spices, and thoroughly puree, until creamy. The mixture should still have a bit of texture to it, but make sure there are no large chunks remaining. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- To make the pastry, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add both types of oil and vinegar at the same time, and stir with a wide spatula until the dough begins to come together. Drizzle in just about a teaspoon of water at a time, until you have a stiff, cohesive dough. Be careful not to go overboard with the liquid, as it should still be thick enough to happily roll out. It may take some serious elbow grease to bring together this mixture, so if you have a stand mixer, this would be a good
time to use it instead.
- On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to an even round about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to an 8-inch round, 2-inch deep springform pan, gently easing it into the bottom and smoothing out the sides. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
- When ready to assemble the grand pastry, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Lightly prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork to allow steam to escape, and bake it empty for 10 minutes.
- Remove the par-baked crust from the oven and spoon in the pate, smoothing it into an even layer across the bottom. Stick the trimmed asparagus into the pate straight up, filling the entire pastry.
- Remove the top oven rack if needed for clearance, and increase the heat to 450 degrees. Bake the filled pastry for 15 minutes, until the tips of the asparagus are lightly charred and the stalks are bright green and tender.
- Let cool in the springform pan for at least 20 minutes before removing and serving, to great fanfare, no doubt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 292Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 1250mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 9gSugar: 6gProtein: 11g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.