Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Don't Get All Puffed About Puff Pastry

Keeping a pantry full of favorites is important, especially for those last minute meals, guests, and events. As I wrote a while back, Cooking is Cheaper than Therapy: The Infallible Brownie Mix there is always a brownie mix in my cupboard, or a note on my grocery list to replenish the one I just used.

There will be a new addition to my pantry, or at least in my freezer "pantry" - frozen puff pastry. How did I ever get along without it all of these years? I have used it before as the topping for chicken pot pies, but that was about my limit. It was just last week my sister, the professional pastry chef, started telling me the virtues of this little box of dough, especially to novices like myself who isn't a fan of baking. It is obvious to me that my "kid" sister got the baking gene in the family.

There are a couple of brands in the market freezer section, but you're probably familiar with this brand. 


Now, what to make? It is endless. There are a variety of pastry desserts that are easy to bake and assemble and you will look like a "French" pastry chef. It's easy to stack individual baked pastry squares and in-between whipped cream, fruit, and top with chocolate syrup and more whip cream. Make one large fruit tart from one of the sheets, or cut to size and make individuals. 


Puff pastry makes the perfect vehicle to hold scrumptious morsels for small appetizer bites. You can cut it into small squares or circles, bake, cool, and add the savory topping. 

I had a party to attend on Sunday afternoon, so I used puff pastry for little savory bites. I kind of followed the spinach pinwheel recipe on the back of the box. When using frozen spinach, it's important to drain the thawed spinach well. Soggy spinach means soggy dough. Squeeze it! Then add the cheeses and spices. I added dried basil. Instead of the recommended egg wash to layer on the dough before you add the spinach filling, I used Dijon mustard instead. Gave the flavors a nice tang. It's one of the recipes that you can do your own thing as long as you remember the techniques. 



I also made palmiers. What's a "palmier"?  It's also known as a "pig's ear," a classic French pastry in a palm leaf shape or a butterfly shape with a simple filling of just sugar and butter. However, I did my own savory spin. For this filling I used my old standby listed in Dont Be Hatin' on the Mayo: Delicious Mayonnaise Hacks under "Catholic Daughters" olive-cheese-mayo spread. When it comes to making a palmier, it's all in the fold. 

I cannot stress how important it is to keep the working dough chilled. It's easier to slice into the desired shape, and easy to start a routine. I chilled it after I placed the filling on the dough and rolled it. Only need to chill for about 15-20 minutes. While it's chilling you can make another filling for another roll if desired. After I cut the desired shapes and placed them on the pan, I gave them another quick chill before baking. 


In the mean time, my mind is wandering about all of the delicious ideas to come up with for my next batch of puff pastry in my freezer. Will they be sweet or savory? 

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