Feeling Festive with Ramón Bilbao


I’ve been a bit of a slow-starter this December. There’s no wreath on my front door, I’ve barely begun Christmas shopping and I’ve only made one batch of mince pies. It’s high time things started looking a little more festive around here, so to kick off the Christmas cheer, I’ve teamed up with winemaker, Ramón Bilbao of the Rioja region in Spain. I’m sharing two indulgent recipes fit for a feast and pairing each of them with delicious wines by Ramón Bilbao.

First up is a celebratory Leek, mushroom and stilton pie, topped with fried sage leaves; and to accompany it, Ramon Bilbao’s ‘Edicion Limitada’ 2015. It’s a full-bodied Tempranillo, ruby red in colour, with foreground tastes of ripe grapes, black pepper and cloves. It’s a harmonious and elegant wine, which stands up to the intensity of the stilton in the pie.

Next is a truly decadent dark chocolate tart, topped with shards of hazelnut praline. I’ve paired it with Ramón Bilbao’s Mirto 2012. This is an exquisite wine, which only gets better as it aerates. It’s intense and complex, with rich aromas of black chocolate, toast, coffee and cigar boxes. It’s a joy to drink and is the perfect companion to a dark chocolate pudding.

To read more about Ramón Bilbao and their excellent selection of wines head to their website.


Leek, Mushroom and Stilton Pie

For the pastry:
300g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
150g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
70-100ml water

For the Filling
Knob of butter
tsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 leek, slices
A handful of sage, chopped (reserving a few whole leaves to garnish}
100g mature cheddar
3 eggs
300ml cream
salt and pepper
70-100g stilton or another blue cheese

First make the pastry. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the cubed butter and rub together with your fingers, until it resembles coarse sand. In a separate small jug or bowl, beat the egg yolk and water together, then pour into the flour mixture. Use a knife to mix the four and egg together, eventually using your hands to bring it all together into a dough. Shape into a ball, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

When you’re ready to bake your pie, preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the pastry from the fridge and let it soften slightly so that it’s easier to work with. Lightly flour a surface then roll it out into a round. Use the pastry to line a 20cm springform cake tin, making sure you push the pastry into the corners. Leave about 2cm of pastry hanging over the edge. line with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, take out the baking beans and parchment and return the pie crust to the oven to bake for a further 5- 10 minutes. Once baked, use a knife to trim off the overhanging pie crust.

While the pie crust is in the oven, start on the filling. Gently heat the butter in a large frying pan and pour the olive oil directly onto the butter. This stops the butter from burning. Add the garlic and sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, leeks and sage and cook until the mushrooms have softened. Stirring every now and then and making sure the leeks don’t burn.

In a jug, beat the cream and eggs together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Careful not to over salt as the stilton is quite intense on it's own.

Once the pie crust is ready, fill it with the leek and mushroom mixture . Pour over the egg mixture and then crumble over the stilton. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and set. Let it cool slightly before unclipping the cake tin.

Fry the reserved sage leaves for about 30 second and use to garnish the top of the pie. Serve with a glass of Ramón Bilbao ‘Edicion Limitada’.

Dark Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Praline Shards

For the pastry:
200g plain flour
30g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
175g cold butter (cubed)
pinch of salt
1 large egg yolk

For the filling:
300ml double cream
sprinkle of salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate broken into pieces (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
50ml milk

For the praline:
60g sugar
1 tbsp. water
100g hazelnuts

To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar and cocoa powder into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to break up any lumps. Add the butter and salt and process until it resembles coarse sand. Add the egg yolk and two tbsp of very cold water. Process the mixture again until it comes together. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and shape into a ball using your hands. Cover the dough with cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Roll out the pastry and use to line a 23cm loose bottom tart tin. Cover the shell with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Blind bake the shell of 15 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.

Put the cream, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and butter and stir until they've melted into the creamy mixture. Add the milk, and keep stirring until the mixture becomes nice and shiny.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry case and leave to set at room temperature.

To make the praline. Gently melt the sugar with the water in a small heavy based sauce pan. Once the sugar has melted, turn up the heat and cook until, bubbling and golden. throw in the hazelnuts, coating with the golden mixture and let bubble for a few seconds. Line a baking sheet with parchment and then pour out the mixture to form a single layer of hazelnuts. Let it cool and scatter over the tart.

Serve the tart with a glass of Ramón Bilbao Mirto.