Showing posts with label puff pastry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label puff pastry. Show all posts

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Asparagus, tomato and Gruyère tart

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This colorful vegetable tart is the reason favorite Daughter is hooked on asparagus!   I came across this simple recipe in Martha’s vast recipe collection several years ago and it has been requested many times.   Served as an appetizer or main dish when accompanied with a soup or salad, this tart has a handful of ingredients and is very easy to prepare  – it fits right into a young lady’s busy college schedule.  

I have been fortunate to have children that love vegetables.  We were never a fast-food family as that option was not available to my parents in South Africa when I was little.   My kids ate what was served at our dinner table and our extended family feasts from the get-go.   I was spared the drama of picky eaters and watched their friends exhibit some strange behaviors.  One young neighbor never ate at our home.   He subsisted on a diet of chicken nuggets alone.   I’m sad to see that he is now an obese young man.   Another young girl asked me what that whole bird was I had sitting in a roasting pan.  It was a chicken… And I once come across a kid at the check-out counter that could not recognize broccoli (!) so he couldn’t look up the PLU code.   It’s no wonder we are now in the midst of a health crisis with no change in sight.

When it comes to asparagus,  I always buy the bunch with the thinnest spears and fresh buds.    It’s just a personal preference, but any thickness is good.   An excellent provider of Vitamin K, folate, Vitamins C and A, asparagus is also a natural diuretic and is high in antioxidants.

This recipe combines the flavors or asparagus and Swiss-made Gruyère cheese.  They pair beautifully together and it’s no wonder – they are both common items in the Swiss kitchen.  Here I have added sliced cherry tomatoes to the mix for a beautiful and delicious presentation.

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Asparagus, tomato and Gruyère tart  adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart

a little flour for the work surface

1 sheet frozen puff pastry

5½ ozs (2 cups) Gruyère cheese, grated

1½ pounds thin or medium asparagus

8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle.  Trim uneven edges.  Place pastry on a baking sheet (I line mine with a silpat).  With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle.  Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals.

Sprinkle pastry with Gruyère.  Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell. Arrange asparagus and tomato halves in a single layer over Gruyère.  Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.

Cut tart with a pizza cutter into desirable pieces.  Serve hot.

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Make sure you sprinkle some cheese on the edges too! 

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Mastering puff pastry and vols-au-vent

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Kitchens should be getting cooler in the northern hemisphere…says Steph innocently from her home in Sydney.  No such cooling took place in good old Texas in September, where temperatures were still reaching the 90’s and when I was supposed to post this Daring Bakers challenge.

I’ve baked with lots of purchased puff pastry in the past (“Mom, can you make pastries for breakfast today?”) but I have never taken the time to make it from scratch.  Now I remember why!  If you live in Texas, my friends, it’s an all-day process during the month of September!  We’re still struggling to keep our homes cool, so the conditions are not exactly conducive to a process that requires keeping the butter solid cold while you perform a series of turns which creates the flakiness of the dough.  Roll, fold, turn, chill and wait; roll, fold, turn, chill and wait again; roll… and so it went all day long.  The key to successful puff pastry is to keep the butter from playing hookie on your counter instead of being obediently enveloped in the dough while you’re rolling it.  A cool marble countertop cool to look at and cool to the touch would be sooo perfect for this project…note to self –  make sure you get at least one marble countertop for making pastries when you redo the kitchen!   

DBMiss Measure_v150x200I’m not a master yet when it comes to making puff pastry, but it was good enough to produce the vols-au-vent (literally “windblown” for its airiness), pictured above.  Vols-au-vent are typically served hot and are filled with a creamy savory filling.  I filled them with a chilled fresh Crab Salad –  who wants to heat up the stove in 90 degree weather?  

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Thanks Steph for organizing the challenge and thanks to Lis and Ivonne for rocking the Daring Bakers every month with their cool challenges!

Vols Au Vent:
Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough.  If you are interested in making your own puff pastry and/or vols-au-vent, please click
here to see the recipe and a detailed explanation.  Also included are helpful instructional videos.  The selected instructions below describe my pictures only.

Place the block of cold butter (the beurrage) in the middle of the dough (the détrempe) and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely.  This dough/butter packet is called a paton and is rolled and folded repeatedly (turning).fall veggies and vol-au-vent 030-crop v2

Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" …With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!). fall veggies and vol-au-vent 043 v1

The total number of turns needed is six…However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it. fall veggies and vol-au-vent 050 v2  
Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. vol-au-vent 003 v1 
Crab Salad  enough to fill about 12 vols-au-vent, but also good on a bed of lettuce!

1 pound fresh lump crabmeat (none of that rubbery imitation stuff, ok?)

¾ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped

2 shallots or ½ red onion, finely diced

2 jalapenos, finely diced

zest of 1 lime

juice of 2 limes

leaves of about 10 stems of cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Pick through the crabmeat to remove any scales.

Place red bell pepper, shallots or red onion, jalapenos, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, vinegar and olive oil in a bowl. Whisk to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add crabmeat and gently mix it in. Top with scallions and serve with salad greens or in vols-au-vents.

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