From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
2 tblsp olive oil (plus extra for oiling)
2 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
1 small onion (peeled and finely chopped)
225 g mixed wild mushrooms (roughly chopped)
2 tblsp double cream
2 tblsp madeira
1 bunch of spring onions (trimmed and finely chopped)
2 tblsp chopped mixed herbs (e.g. basil, parsley and chives)
4–5 sheets filo pastry, thawed if frozen (about 100g/4oz in total)
1 egg (beaten)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
mixed salad leaves, lightly dressed with french vinaigrette
warm crusty bread, to serve
This is a wonderful combination of soft mushrooms and crisp pastry. The filo pastry helps to keep the mushroom mixture really moist and full of flavour. The strudel can be prepared several hours in advance as long as it is tightly covered with cling film and kept in the fridge. Then simply pop in the oven once your guests arrive.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5) and oil a baking sheet.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, onion and mushrooms and cook over a high heat for 2–3 minutes until almost tender. Reduce the heat, add the cream and Madeira to the pan and cook for another minute. Add the spring onions, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for another minute until the spring onions are just tender and the liquid has almost completely reduced. Allow to cool.
Unroll the sheets of filo pastry and place them all, one on top of the other, on a work surface. Brush the top sheet of pastry with beaten egg and then spread over the mushroom mixture to within 4cm (1½in) of the edges. Fold the short ends inwards a little to meet the mushroom mixture and then, starting with a long edge, roll up the pastry fairly tightly like you would a Swiss roll, keeping the mushrooms in place as you roll.
Place the strudel seam-side down on the oiled baking sheet and brush it all over with the remaining beaten egg. Bake for 20–25 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before sliding off the baking sheet on to a chopping board.
Cut the strudel into thick slices and arrange on warmed plates with some dressed mixed salad leaves and crusty bread, if you wish.