Ready, set, bake! Puff Pastry Dough

All week long for some reason I felt like making puff pastry. Actually I wanted to make a Rough Puff pastry. Can you tell I’ve just finished watching Season 5 of the Great British Bake Off? I searched on-line for a recipe to make. I found Paul Hollywood’s but just reading his name was too intimidating. So I went with Epicurious: Rough Puff Pastry Dough.

This is mostly butter. Lots of butter. In looking at PH’s recipe there seems to be less butter to the same amount of flour. Interesting. This, of course, I note in hindsight. I have made “real” puff pastry before quite a long time ago so I do not recall the difference. That will mean another internet search sometime.

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick, plus 5 tablespoons of butter frozen
  • 5-6 tablespoons of ice water
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Ready, set, bake!

The metal bowl is to be chilled but I did not want to wait. I somehow do not have a box grater so I started out with that small hand held one and ended with working the butter into the flour with my hands. I keep butter in the freezer so that was readily available.

First sift the flour and the salt. Then grate the frozen butter into the flour. With a box grater this would have been easy. Not so much with the itty-bitty one I have. I became concerned that the butter parcels would be too small so I chopped up the remaining stick of butter with a chef’s knife and rubbed it into the flour with my fingers. Then sprinkle the flour/butter mixture with 5 tablespoons of iced water and stir with a fork until it comes together. It should hold together without crumbling when squeezed with your hand. If not, add a little bit more water. At this point my hands are covered with butter and flour. Form this into a 5 inch square. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

So Hubby and I find an intriguing movie to watch on Netflix. We pause this every 30 minutes for me to go roll out the dough.

Roll out dough into a 15 x 8 inch rectangle. Epicurious says to fold in thirds. But I think I remember PH liking the four fold, fold a fourth on each small end to the middle and then fold over. So this is what I did. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Do this two more times. Now chill the finished product for at least one hour. I leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight.

Now what to do with this? Nothing too original. Tarts made with a nice all-fruit jam. Roll out the dough into a rectangle 24 x 8 inches. Cut into 6 smaller rectangles. Place a helping of jam on one half. Brush edges with an egg wash made of one beaten egg and a few teaspoons of milk. fold into your turnovers. Use a fork to seal the edges and to poke through the top crust. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. I chilled these for an hour or two or three as Hubby and I were busily cleaning and de-cluttering our kitchen for a bit of remodeling. I baked these at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. We’re still working in the kitchen and Hubby asks “What’s burning?” I guess that means my oven may need cleaning or he did not expect to smell the baking heat.

So here is our tasty treat. No soggy bottom. Hubby declares it “a good bake”. Melt in the mouth buttery and flaky.

I would make this again. Maybe tackle PH’s recipe. Or I will buy the stuff from the grocery store freezer and keep it handy to use. I guess it depends on how much I want to get my hands into the action!

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Stuffed peppers, my version

So, I asked Hubby what should we do with the two green peppers languishing away in our fridge’s produce drawer. Mind you, I have stored these in there in one of those mesh produce bags so they are doing just fine. I forgot to take them camping with us so now I feel they need to be used. Hubby suggested stuffed peppers. I’m thinking I have not made stuffed peppers but once in my life and Betty Crocker had me blanch the peppers before stuffing. What a hassle that was! But I figure I would give it my best shot anyway. I looked up a more modern recipe and found that blanching was not essential. Yay! As I am making these for our dinner one weeknight after work, I begin to add all sorts of ingredients. It becomes another version of Southwestern Quinoa salad that I had just thrown together. There are differences so just bear with me. Thanks!

  • 4 small yellow peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 cup ground beef (I confess, I diced up one frozen pre-formed burger pattie.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (I again used the boil-in-bag kind.)
  • 2 medium sized green bell peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper
  • and don’t forget the cheese: 1/2 cup shredded
  • olive oil for sauteing

Chop and dice the onion and yellow peppers. Saute these in a bit of olive oil until nicely aromatic. Also add the garlic. (I forgot garlic until later, oops!) Brown the ground beef in this concoction and season with cayenne and black pepper. Get that all nicely browned together. Oh, by this time I am remembering to cut the tops off the green peppers and dice the tops and add this to the skillet. Use a large-ish skillet. Add the corn and stir this around for a bit of a saute as well.

Meanwhile cook your quinoa as directed on the package. Drain or fluff when appropriate. Add the can of tomatoes and the can of drained black beans. Taste for additional seasoning. Add the quinoa and stir all together. This in itself would make a nice meal. But I’ve got these two bell peppers with the tops cut off and the membranes removed sitting like wobbly cups on my cutting board, so let the stuffing begin.

I have semi pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees F. I’m taking a big chance here and hoping this won’t undo the nice cooler house temperature that the cooler weather has brought us over the past two days. My kitchen is not air-conditioned. The small unit in the dining room does not reach it well so we close it off so the dog can stay cool enough at night to breathe. But I digress.

Find a suitably sized baking or casserole dish (this one is 1 1/2 quarts). Spoon the filling into the two peppers. Then spoon the remaining filling all around. Now top each pepper with cheese. Truth be told the only shredded cheese we had was a “pizza blend”, but cheese is cheese! Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Then uncover the dish and bake another 15 minutes. The peppers will be al dente but that is the way we like them.

Enjoy! The leftover filling will make a good take-to-work lunch.

Southwestern Quinoa salad

I threw a side dish together one evening after work. I thought we needed something in addition to whatever we were eating from the grill. I also had this spare cob of corn. Most likely the main dish was grilled chicken with a dry rub and finished with sauce but it could have been cheeseburgers or grilled Italian sausages. This dish turned out very tasty and the leftovers were perfect to take to work for lunch.

 

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • chop a small onion
  • dice a few small peppers
  • blanch one ear of corn; cut kernels from cob
  • chop a few jalapeno peppers, as many as you like for “heat”
  • cook your quinoa; I found this “boil in bag” recently and think it is a fabulous thing. Cook as much for how many servings you would like.
  • dice some grape tomatoes
  • make a lemon or lime vinegrette
  • chop some cilantro

Mix all of the above together. Initially it is tepid due to the warmth of the cooked quinoa but this does not detract from the deliciousness. Leftovers are cold and are just as delicious.

 

 

Not Tuna Salad

We were going to make tuna noodle salad to have for dinner on one of these hot summer evenings. Hubby likes to put raw onion in these salads; I can do without. But we have Vidalia sweet onions in the pantry and these are easier to eat raw. Hubby says to let him make the salad as he knows how to. I abide by his wishes and agree to just cook the elbow noodles so they would be cooked and chilled for his return home from work.

But this did not turn out to be tuna noodle salad made with elbow pasta…

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So first of all, I found no elbow pasta in my pantry. I had two whole boxes in there recently, or so I thought. I did have these curly pasta, cavatelli, capatelli, something like that. I cooked all of that up; it was almost the entire pound package.

Hubby comes home and I start looking for the tuna. We have no tuna in the pantry; we have only one can in the Camper. This is not enough so he searches through the fridge for his ingredients. He leaves the tuna out altogether.

Can you guess what is in there? I have no clue what spices and herbs he used. But it was a very tasty dish and we had it for two suppers.

I do know some of the ingredients. He used broccoli, green pepper, Vidalia onion, shredded cheese, chunks of cheddar cheese, chunks of a beef summer sausage, and carrots.

 

 

Hubby’s hors d’oeuvres

Hubby had a food event at work. He was to bring something. These little treats are his go-to. Super simple and tasty, with a little spicy bite!

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  • one package ham slices, 14 ounces
  • one package cream cheese, 8 ounces
  • jalapeno peppers from jar, as many as suits your taste

Soften the cream cheese; chop the peppers. Combine these using some of the pepper juice to make a spread. Spread on slices of ham. Roll up lengthwise and cut into thirds. Serve with toothpicks.

Procrastibake: Streusel Coffee Cake

So my house needed cleaning. I did eventually get around to it but not before I found lots of other things to pay attention to. And baking is one of those things that is easy to get lost in especially when the weather in Southern New England switches from summer to winter every other day! This past week seems to have alternated rainy cold days with warm sunny “sit in the backyard with a cocktail” days.

This recipe is from my standard 1978/1969 Betty Crocker Cookbook. I chose not to make the sour cream coffee cake because I had cow’s milk in the fridge that needed to be used. This can be made in a 9-inch square pan or a 9 x 13 inch pan. I chose the 9-inch square.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup raisins (my addition)

First of all, I only had 1/3 cup butter in the fridge. I did not want to wait for the frozen butter to thaw. And I will need 3 more tablespoons of butter for the streusel. What to do? I have a handy dandy jar of coconut oil in the pantry. It really is not an appropriate substitute for butter but for oil, but I have used in for cookies in the past, so went for it anyway. So I used 2 Tablespoons coconut oil with 3 Tablespoons butter in the cake.

Make the streusel by mixing all together the following:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I may have added some to the cake as well)
  • 3 tablespoons butter (I had 2 of butter and 1 of coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I had used all the nuts earlier in the week so left these out)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For the cake beat all of the first list of ingredients in a mixing bowl for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Lightly grease the pan and spread 1/2 the batter in the pan. Sprinkle on half the streusel. Spread the remaining batter on top and then sprinkle with the rest of the streusel. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

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Oh, and I mixed in a quarter cup of oats with the streusel.

The 9 inch square pan needed 45-50 minutes to bake completely.

The amount of streusel was barely enough. I don’t think it would have worked at all as layering in a 9 x 13 inch pan. In future make twice the amount for either sized cake.

This is a nice moist cake. I will make it again. I may have actually made it a long time ago as I vaguely remember having the same thoughts about the amount of streusel.

 

Quick Rice Pilaf

A friend of mine showed me an article in the NYTimes about Procrastibaking. Good article; you should read it. I don’t work from home but I do have urges to bake in order to avoid things like…deep housecleaning, another load of laundry, clearing out the sewing room, sorting books from the shelves to give away to the library. I love books. I love having several books piled askew on the coffee table, bedside stand, etc. It is very hard to give away books.

I read the article; I baked brownies. I may bake blondies as well. Depends on what else I want to put off doing…

But this is not about books. Well, I do write about recipes from my 50+ cookbooks. (These are not being sorted through to give away. Not yet.) I find that I have been cooking less from recipe books. I throw things together and may look something up for an idea of a flavoring or additional ingredient. So for supper I wanted to make rice along with the vegetables and I made a pilaf, AKA rice with peas and carrots. 🙂

  • bag of instant brown rice (Success is the brand, 10 minutes in boiling water and its done)
  • 1-2 cups frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • a few colorful peppers, chopped, I used 3 red mini-peppers and 1 yellow mini-pepper
  • olive oil for the pan
  • a few shakes of soy sauce

Cook the rice. Put oil in a skillet and saute the onion and peppers. Stir these a bit. When they have a few nicely browned bits, add the peas and carrots. Stir and add the soy sauce. Mix with the hot rice. Voila!

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