The Wonderful World of Puff Pastry

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Frozen Puff Pastry is one of those small delicious miracles you’ll find in your grocer’s freezer case – available in both sheets (the most versatile form) and shells. It’s great for use in appetizers, wonderful as part of an entree and can be an important part of some very impressive desserts (check out the Pita Kreme recipe farther on in this article). It’s relatively fast (thaw time for the frozen dough is just 30 minutes) and it’s easy to use – a thing of beauty indeed to have in your freezer.

It’s true, you can make your own puff pastry. However, if you read The Joy of Cooking, puff pastry is described as “the most delicate and challenging of pastries which must be made the way porcupines make love – very, very carefully,” and then advises you to “shut off the phone for an hour or two”. It goes on to explain that “in making this light and tender pastry from scratch you should choose a bright, windy, and chilly day for layering the chilled butter and pastry dough that must be rolled out and folded repeatedly. The process yields pastry made of dozens of layers that puff when baked due to the moisture in the butter which creates steam between the layers, causing them to separate.” And if you ever wondered what commercial bakeries do – and haven’t we all – it explains “they use a highly emulsified, very impervious margarine”. There’s not quite the wonderful buttery flavor you’d get if you were to make it from scratch, but does a casual cook really care enough to sacrifice most of the aforementioned bright, windy, chilly day folding and rolling and folding and rolling pastry dough – when it would be much more fun hiking, reading a book or planning an herb garden? We want our food to taste as if we slaved over it for hours but we prefer all the short cuts we can find.

As I do love puff pastry occasionally and I don’t plan to make it from scratch in the foreseeable future let me pass along three yummy recipes I’ve enjoyed making with the frozen dough .

White Pizza Appetizers

This is a recipe from the Pepperidge Farms web site – www.puffpastry.com. It’s quick once the pastry has been thawed. It’s quite tasty and very easy to do. You can find many more great sounding recipes at this web site. If you discover one you simply can’t live without, let me know. I’ll add it to the recipe collection.

  • 1/2 pkg.Pepperidge Farms Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
  • Garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green or red bell pepper
  • 2 small scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano leaves, crushed

Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unfold pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll into 15″ x 10″ rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise and place on 2 baking sheets. Prick thoroughly with fork. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake 10 minutes

Top with cheese, olives, bell pepper, scallions and oregano. Bake 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Cut each pizza into 16 squares. Makes 32 appetizers.

Seafood Supreme in Puff Pastry Shells

Serves 6

This outstanding rich and creamy entree called Seafood Supreme is one I’ve had in my recipe collection a long time. It’s actually a favorite part of the menu when we gather friends together for a New Year’s Eve celebration but try the recipe this spring or summer – it’s good year ’round. If you like it as well as we do save it for the winter holidays. It’s a wonderful party dish–delicious served with lightly curried brown rice, a green vegetable and tomato aspic with chopped cucumber dressing.

Did you know that S &W foods makes tomato aspic in a can? – and it’s very good! It’s often hard to find but if you do find it (ask your local grocer) you can chill it, open both ends of the can, push the jelled aspic through and slice it. Line up the slices (or half slices) on a bed of chopped lettuce on a serving platter. Garnish with avocado slices and sprinkle with finely chopped celery. Place a bowl of chopped cucumber dressing close at hand – easy as easy can be!

My favorite dessert with this menu has always been one of many delicious sweet and tart lemon desserts. For an easy one try lemon ice cream – difficult to find – or lemon sorbet – easy to find. Top with frozen raspberries mixed with a tablespoon or two of Grand Marnier and sprinkled with freshly grated orange peel. That’s a marvelous ending to a perfect meal!

Here’s the seafood recipe:

  • 1 Pkg. Pepperidge Farms Frozen Puff Pastry shells, 6 shells, baked as directed on the package.
  • 1/2 lb. raw scallops
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp – cook, peel and de-vein
  • 2 cups crab meat
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire
  • Dash of red pepper
  • Sherry wine to taste

Cook scallops in boiling salt water covered for 7 to 10 minutes and drain. Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add flour, salt and red pepper. Blend well. Add cream and milk stirring well and cook until thickened. Add paprika and Worcestershire. Blend well, cover and cook 10 minutes over medium heat. Add scallops (cut in smaller pieces if scallops are large) and shrimp. Cook 15 minutes. Add crab and cook 10 minutes more. Add sherry to taste – try two tablespoons. Note: This seafood dish is also excellent over buttered toast points if no puff pastry is available.

Pita Creme

Pita Creme – how it got it’s name we’re not sure – is a sensational dessert. The recipe came from good friend Malena Edmonston – one of the best cooks I know – who lives in Capistrano Beach, CA. The recipe is large and would work well for a dessert and coffee get together. To make half a recipe use just one sheet of puff pastry cut in two before baking and halve the filling ingredients.

1 pkg. Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry (2 sheets)

Roll out thawed pastry to approximately 10″ X 13″ on a lightly floured surface. Prick holes all over with a fork and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until golden.

Filling

  • 1 1/2 large pkgs. vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 cup milk (not skim)
  • 2 pints whipping cream

Put all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat until thick and fluffy. Put one sheet of the baked puff pastry on a large serving platter. Spread filling over baked and cooled sheet.Top with second sheet of baked puff pastry. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.

You can serve this with fruit sauce or top filling with sliced strawberries before adding the second sheet.

Try these three delicious recipes. They’ll make you a living legend!

Bon Appetit!

Martha

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