Archive for September 2009
This is it!! My VERY FIRST Daring Bakers Challenge! I was actually really excited to see this challenge since I hadn’t made puff pastry really since culinary school. And this was my first excuse to make it at home! I know I posted about making some for the apple turnovers, but that puff pastry was just one of the batches I had made while participating in this challenge. 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.
I think I was the only person in my class that enjoyed making this when I was in school. And honestly, I want to do this again to make chocolate puff pastry. I’m sure that’s even better! I also didn’t get to make vols-au-vents in class so this was a great learning opportunity.
After I made the dough and let it rest overnight, I cut out the vols-au-vents and got them ready for baking.
Here they are ready and waiting to be filled!
My first filling consisted of mushrooms in cream sauce topped with chopped parsley. It was simple and but still very rich and savory.
I also filled some with goat cheese & artichokes. This was a light and salty contrast to the rich puff pastry.
For a sweet treat, I filled the vols-au-vents with mascapone cheese and topped them with fresh raspberries.
With all the puff pastry scraps, I made raisin monkey bread. I basically tossed the puff pastry with a beaten egg and enough cinnamon and sugar to coat it all. I also added a dash of vanilla extract and I mixed in some raisins. This was gone faster than anything else I made!
Anyone know why this is called monkey bread? I think it’s more traditionally made with croissant dough, but the puff pastry worked great! I loved participating in this challenge and I’m looking forward to more!
Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface
-food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete
Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that’s about 1″ thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.
Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10″ square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with “ears,” or flaps.
Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don’t just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8″ square.
To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.
Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). 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″ (don’t worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24″, everything else will work itself out.) 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!).
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24″ and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.
Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you’ve completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. 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.
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent
In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.
(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)
Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.
I recently made some fresh puff pastry. The last time I made this was during the pastry module while I was in culinary school. I was fascinated with how the layers would form just from folding some dough and wrapping it around butter. Seriously, whoever thought of this procedure is a pure genius and for me, he/she is right up there with Albert Einstein! Since I made the dough, I stored it in the freezer for another day. Yesterday happened to be the day when I decided to take it out and make something wonderful with that puff pastry: apple turnovers! Who doesn’t love warm, sweet apples nestled in layers of flaky dough? With a cup of coffee, this simple treat is a great way to start my morning!
Apple Turnovers Yield, 10 to 12 turnovers
- 1 large sheet of puff pastry (Of course you can use your preferred brand of store bought puff pastry!)
- 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional, but if using freshly ground is best)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 T milk
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, add the apples, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, cinnamon salt, nutmeg, and cloves, if using. Set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out your puff pastry into a large sheet.
- Using a pizza cutter or very sharp knife, cut your puff pastry in half. Set one half aside. Cut the remaining half into 6 even rectangles.
- Fill each rectangle with about a tablespoon of the apple mixture, draining it of any juices that may have developed in the bowl.
- Brush the edges of the rectangle with beaten egg and fold the rectangle over, pressing lightly to remove any air. Use a fork to crimp together the edges.
- Place each turnover on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush each with the beaten egg.
- Using a sharp knife, cut 2 or 3 slits in the top of each turnover, to create slits. These slits will serve as vents and will keep your pastries from exploding!
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
While your turnovers are cooling, you can make the icing!
- In the bowl of a mixer, combine confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract and milk.
- Mix until it reaches a thick consistency, resembling icing. If you need to thin it out a bit, add a few drops of more milk.
- Using a spoon, drizzle the icing on top of your turnovers.
After spending the day surrounded by sweets, I decided I wanted something spicy for dinner, so I made some sausage chili.
Sausage Chili, Yield 4 to 6 servings
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 links of hot italian sausage, casings removed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 jalapeños, seeds and stems removed and diced
- 1/2 dried habañero, stems and seeds removed and minced
- 3/4 cup red wine or 1 bottle beer
- 2 T of cajun seasoning
- 2 T of chili powder
- 2 T of cumin
- 1 (1lb, 13 oz) can of pink beans
- 1 (28 oz) can of tomatoes
- Top with crumbled cotija cheese or cheddar
- Warm a stock pot or dutch oven to medium heat.
- Add olive oil.
- Once olive oil is heated, add onion and cook until soft and edges are brown, about 5 – 6 minutes.
- Add sausage. Crumble the sausage while cooking. Cook until browned through about 10 minutes.
- Add garlic, jalapeños and habañero and cook 2 minutes more.
- Add wine or beer and scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any bits that are stuck. Cook another 2 minutes until liquid is reduced.
- Add cajun seasoning, chili powder and cumin, stirring to incorporate. Cook another minute.
- Add beans and tomatoes.
- Simmer, covered, for about 20-30 minutes until thick.
- To serve, ladle into bowl and top with crumbled cotija or cheddar cheese
I’m not one for ceremonies. I hated every graduation ceremony I had to attend, every religious ceremony (except for baptism, cuz well, I was a baby) and I wasn’t even excited about my high school prom. So when I heard about my culinary school having a graduation ceremony where we were supposed to cook all the food and basically put on an event for our guests, I really wasn’t happy. For a while I figured I’d just do my part and cook but then just leave for the actual event. Then a friend of mine pointed out that it would be stupid to spend a class period of 4 hours and an entire full day preparing for this event only to just leave. *sigh* Of course, I ended up spending hours preparing and then I ended up spending a few hours at the event. We were presented with a Larousse Gastronomique and a chef’s hat! We also had quite a nice spread, I must say. I don’t remember what all the food was, but it was all very good. Here’s some shots of the event.
It was a LONG day and for once, I was glad I attended one graduation ceremony.
Since I didn’t have class until 6pm, I’d spend my days either cooking or baking or just catching up on other things around the house. Usually the tv was on tuned to either Food Network or at times, to the Martha Stewart Show. I love the craft segments but I REALLY love the food segments on her show! A friend of mine told me she also watches before class, so I thought it might be fun to try to get tickets to be in the audience. And we got tickets to see the show the day before we graduated culinary school!! It was a lot of fun to see a bit of how the show is put together. I enjoyed watching her guests and I really loved watching Marc Morrone handle the different pets on the show. They were all adorable as they chirped, frolicked and jumped around their nook of the set! Here’s some shots of my & my friend, Janet, at the Martha Stewart Show. If you are a viewer, the show will air on September 21st.
As my culinary school experience comes to an end, I feel like they’re just trying to get in whatever odds & ends we didn’t do along the way. We made menus from different contemporary master chefs from Mario Batali (who had really great food!) to Rick Bayless to Thomas Keller. We then moved on to market basket cooking & our practical. After that, we made hors ‘d oeuvres, sausages, forcemeats & terrines. As much as I love good sausage, I really HATED making it. It was rather disgusting to see the ground meat come out of the grinder and to stuff the sausage casings. I may try making sausage again, but for now, I think I’m done.
As if I weren’t disgusted by sausages enough, we had to then make forcemeats & terrines. Basically a forcemeat is an emulsion of meat and fat. This preparation is often placed in a mold, usually a terrine, and baked. If it is baked with a dough, it is called “en croute”. I liked making the dough, but that was about it. Although I understand how and why this particular food evolved, I am really glad this isn’t very popular today. And honestly, I really don’t like any kind of pate since the first time I ate it, I threw up. This was years ago, but I never got over it.
I do have to admit though I rather enjoyed the different hors d’oeuvres. These are small preparations, usually about two bites. We made such a variety including yakitori, chicken satay, beef satay, different spring rolls, shao mai and other fun things. I did miss one day of hors d’oeuvres which was just after labor day so I didn’t get everything however, I did enjoy the bit I did get. Ending class by eating a bit of each thing was probably one of the best meals I had as a culinary student too! It’s always great to get to eat a little bti of everything. Of course though, I wish I had some dessert. Anyway, check out the spread!
These were really the things I liked the best! I’m glad there are some things that I’m liking in this final course.