Presto! New Dough!

IMG_5148Laminated dough that is the base for croissants and pain chocolat can be pokey at best and tortuous at worst. Mix, knead, chill, fold, chill, roll, fold, chill….you get the picture. I found a recipe for a creme fraiche tarte by Naomi Pomeroy ( whose wedding chicken I still have to make.  So called because it’s so good she served it at her own wedding!) on the Panna App.It’s the second time it has appeared on my Facebook feed from Panna, so I figured the pastry universe was trying to tell me something.

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It was quick and easy for a dough, surprisingly so. And although not as buttery as a true Parisian bakery, for a short dough, it was terrific and perfect for the application. I made half the recipe.  Start with flour, baking powder and very cold butter cut into cubes. Pulse in the food processor with dough blade until cornmeal type consistency is achieved.

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Add four ounces of creme fraiche and pulse again until the dough just comes together. It will be kind of “shaggy” as they say.  Lightly flour a surface and drop the dough out onto it.  Work the dough very slightly until its smooth and elastic, about 4 or 5 turns kneading. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

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Roll and fold per the recipe until you get the requisite strips of pastry.  Leave uncovered and freeze for 15 minutes.

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Bake in a 425° oven for 20 minutes until brown and puffy. Remove from oven, prick with a fork and bake for 10 more minutes.

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Meanwhile, back at the cheese crib, slice your brie….

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If you’re using Naomi’s half dried tomatoes or my tomato confit ( recipe later this week) get them to room temperature.

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Add the tomatoes and cheese in the order you prefer. I did not pay attention here and put cheese on top of tomatoes. Like all art, I think it’s personal…

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Back in the oven to melt the cheese for about 5 minutes…

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I cut one strip into 4 pieces and served over simply dressed greens and grilled asparagus. I froze the second strip for later in the week.

Now here’s the thing that I’m excited by. Short time investment for dough, big yield for possibilities of toppings…I’m thinking mushrooms in a cream sauce, or maybe Italian cold cuts, shredded and dressed with capers and olive oil, or even lemon curd and fresh cream. I mean, you could use puff pastry from your grocers freezer but why? Be brave!

Happy Appies…

The Hubs and I were in charge of wine and pre feast snacks for Thanksgiving, so part deux of my kitchen based marathon was on Wednesday. I had five items to produce for the menu I planned. All pretty easy to execute. I also had to pack each item for travel, and didn’t want to have to mess around with bringing containers home unless critically necessary, so disposable was way to go.

  
The Old Standby

Blue, chèvre, Brie, Manchego, cheddar served with baguette slices, candied lemon, grapes and blackberries, sliced apple and red pears. I always like my cheese tray to look full and casual, not laid out like a terraced garden. Another bonus on Thursday came in the form of an hour plus commute, that allowed the cheese to come up to perfect temp for eating.

  
The Fail Safe

A Caprese salad is always a safe choice for diner satisfaction, and transferring the ingredients to a skewer is a fun way to convert a salad into an appetizer that’s portable and kid friendly too. 

  
It’s also fun to include dressing and garnish in one by filling teeny tiny food grade syringes with balsamic syrup and evoo!

 
You can purchase on Amazon, just search for flavor injectors.

The Classic with a Twist

  

You can miniaturize (is that a real verb?) almost any set of ingredients and salad is no exception. Caeser salad is really good because there are limited ingredients. I simply shredded some Romaine, and put it in a zip top bag with a damp paper towel. On arrival you can just pour the dressing, transported in any old jar, into the bag, reseal and shake. “But it’s missing the cheese and the crouton” you say. That’s the other way to have fun here. You can make Parmesan crisps very easily!

  
Just toss a little flour with shredded Parmesan and place on a non stick pan, medium heat with a little pan spray on it. As the cheese melts you can move it into shape as desired.  Cook till brown and then flip, about 45 seconds. The crisps keep really well between two paper plates, wrapped in plastic wrap.

The Savory and Satisfying

  

For the first hot appetizer, I turned to corn, “we call it maize”, but it’s actually polenta!

   
 
Follow the directions on the box and add cheese or other ingredients as you see fit. I topped the polenta with savory mushrooms cooked with a little Italian sausage, garlic, butter and some sage, and then stirred in a tablespoon of mascarpone.Totally creamy and yummy. 

 
I garnished with some green onions, but chives would work also. The polenta and the mushrooms can just be put in reveal able containers and nuked in the microwave when needed. And lastly…

The Wild Card

Of which there are no pictures extant! How did that happen? 

Well, I’ll just have to tell you all about it!

My brothers favorite option from any Chinese restaurant is always Crab Rangoon. So I decided I could do a deconstructed rangoon. I mixed canned crabmeat with a little mayo and Tabasco and 8 oz of non fat cream cheese and baked along with the turkey. Wednesday nite, I heated about a cup of vegetable oil in a deep skillet and then cut refrigerated egg roll wrappers into triangles. Drop the triangles into the oil for about 20 seconds and flip…like magic, wontons! So instead of pockets of crab and cream cheese, you have wonton chips and dip.

So that’s how I used about eight different types of cheese from the cheese centric trip to Trader Joes last week!


Just another meatless Monday …

Nothing is easier to make or more satisfying to eat than a grilled cheese. 

But this is no ordinary grilled cheese…

  This is a grilled cheese, so good it should be dessert. Oh, you noticed the prosciutto on the meatless Monday entry? I know, well, only two thinny, thin, thin slices left and I gave them to the Hubs.

     

It’s really all about the fig butter and Brie. Classic. Just like a grilled cheese should be.

Cabin Fever…..

All over the greater Boston area, down to the Cape and southcoast and out to Springfield, residents are reveling in the first non snow event weekend in 6 weeks! We have stood in our doorways and windows and watched almost 10 feet of white stuff blanket, coat, cover, and camoflage our houses, cars, roads, schools, buses, trains, rivers, lakes and even the ocean. For weeks, all we’ve been able to manage is to get to the grocery store to restock, try to get children to school and ruin our necks looking around corners and on highway merges because snowbanks are so high we can’t see! Well, we’re fed up and not going to take it anymore!

So in celebration of a thermometer that actually crept above freezing, a bright blue sky with a warm sun, puddles instead of ice and a general sense of comfort brought on by the fact that no where on the weather channel app do we see the “snow” icon, the Hubs and I struck out early for a few fun errands! End results of the errands will be coming this week, but wanted to share the following fun finds…

Our first stop was the car wash followed by Dunkies, but then we went drove to Russell’s Garden Center for the winter farmers market. I expected about 10 tables piled with potatoes and turnips, maybe some eggs and cheese.

I did not expect the mob scene of wine vendors, cheese mongers, fish mongers, honey makers, and patent medicine hawkers. It looked like Memorial Day weekend minus geraniums. We bought some fresh lamb sausages that we are cooking tonight. Above is my haul from the green grocer. Sunflower sprouts for salad, watermelon radishes, and huge golden carrots. Watch this space for pix of the finished products!

Then we bopped down to Trader Joes in Framingham to restock the wine rack. Found some lovely new bottles you will all undoubtedly hear about, along with the usual Chez Miller Zinfandel house wines. Of course, you can’t just buy wine…you have to poke around so I found these preserved lemons and sliceable Brie ! What will they think of next?

Perfect day as remedy for cabin fever and you could almost think spring will be here soon. The Red Sox are even on TV as I write this. Then I looked out the window….snowing again.