Feuilleté de Poires

This may be the most elegant thing I have ever attempted to bake, and probably pronounce.

It all began over Christmas holiday 2015 when I completely fell head over heels in love with “The Great British Bake Off.” A show that rivals any baking competition I have ever watched.

It all takes place in a magical tent on the countryside where contestants are given three baking challenges to complete.  A Signature, a Technical, and finally a Showstopper(and boy is it a showstopper) they are judged on all three before they can move on to the next week. They have a reasonable amount of time in order to complete each task, unlike the usual ‘bake 300 cupcakes in a hour while being yelled at’ show I normally indulge in. 

The contestants are a wide variety of ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. It’s also British so naturally the contestants treat each other with respect and courtesy, and they all have a lovely accent to boot. In the end I acquired a girl crush on Martha, and a desire to make and eat Feuilleté de Poires which essentially means pears in puff pastry.  

This bake was given as a technical challenge, and I totally understand why. Puff pastry is always going to be a pain in the tuckus, even when you're not on a reality T.V. show. It involves a lot of time and patience to be able to correctly work the dough in such an intricate folding process. I can only imagine doing this bake with cameras watching (oofta! thank goodness that wasn't the case). 

Everything else however was a breeze.  Poaching a pear is pretty much glorified boiling, and if you save yourself some of the wine to sip on while you wrap the pears in puff pastry. It makes you forget any stress that might have been acquired when making the pastry in the first place. So you can just relax and enjoy the smells wafting from the oven. 


Feuillete de Poires

Serving Size: makes 6 Pears


INGREDIENTS:

POACHED PEARS

  • 6 large, firm pears (preferably ones that are straight and tall) red anjou or bosc
  • 2 ½ cups caster sugar
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped 
  • 4 Cloves

PUFF PASTRY

  • 8 ounces cold butter
  • 2 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cups ice water 

DIRECTIONS:


Make the pastry: In a medium size bowl mix together the flour and salt, adding a tablespoon at a time of the ice water. With a fork or fingers loosely mix together. Continue adding water until the dough holds together when pressed.

Wrap the dough in plastic and place in fridge to rest. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare butter block: I usually cut the butter in half sprinkle with a bit of flour and then start hitting it with a rolling pin. Keep hitting and adding flour until the butter is pliable enough that it does not break when folded over on itself. Shape it into a 4x4 inch square, wrap in plastic and chill for 10 minutes.

Wrap the Butter:  Remove dough from fridge and roll out into a 7x7 inch square. Place the square of butter on top of the dough at a 90 degrees to the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter so that all four corners meet in the middle. Pinch to seal.

Roll out Dough: Flip the packet over so no seams are showing, and roll into a rectangle around 12 inches long 6 inches wide.


First Turn: With the rectangle horizontal take the right edge and fold a ⅓ of the dough towards the center. Take the left edge and fold a ⅓ of it over the first fold. Making a vertical neat packet. Turn horizontally. 

Second Turn: Roll into a 12 x 6 rectangle. Fold right edge to the center, fold left edge over the right. Turn horizontally. (make 2 notches on edge of dough with a knife) Chill for 30 minutes in fridge.

Third and Fourth Turn: Repeat step 1 and 2. Mark 4 notches. Chill in fridge for 30 Minutes.

Fifth and Sixth Turn: Repeat Step 1 and 2. Dough should feel smooth and easy to work with. Chill for one hour or overnight. Use right away or keep in freezer, make sure to thaw 30 minutes before use.

Poach the pears: Combine sugar, wine, cinnamon sticks, zest, vanilla bean, and cloves in a medium saucepan and bring mixture to a simmer. Peel the pears and add them to the pot cover and let simmer for around 25-35 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender. Remove from poaching liquid and let cool. 

Reducing the Liquid for a Sauce: Strain poaching liquid and return to pot to cook over medium high heat until liquid is reduced by half (about 20 to 30 minutes). This liquid can then be served alongside poached pears.

Baking: Wrap the cooled poached pears in strips of puff pastry. Place the pastry covered pears on a baking tray, and brush with a mixture of beaten egg and tablespoon of cream. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 400°F Rotating half way through. When golden brown remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes then serve with a drizzle of the reduced sugar syrup.

Ireland Inspired Chicken Pot pie

There is a magical land called Ireland that crept it’s way into my heart and hasn’t left since I visited in May of 2015. It not only has every shade of green you can imagine, but it is also filled with tempting enchantments like elusive furry cows, long winding roads, and bridge building giants. 

Now there are a couple important rules you have to follow in regards to food when traveling through Ireland, the first and most important is to make reservations. There are of course the usual amazing music playing pubs, that could care less, but then there are the places that simply expect the courtesy. The problem is it's really hard to tell which was which from the outside. I actually planned my entire trip around breakfast in Dublin, I wanted so badly to eat at Herbstreet for breakfast. I crept on Instagram for over a year trying to decide between eggs Benedict or waffles. However due to the fact we didn’t make a reservation we missed breakfast.

I was absolutely crushed, and slightly heartbroken.

Fortunately they did let us stay for lunch so my sadness was short lived. Before I knew it I was stuffing my face with soup and bread. And because I needed it we also ordered some cheesecake to help drown out any bits of wallow still loitering about. Despite the wonderful meal, the disappointment of never deciding on that breakfast choice has haunted me ever since.

So most important tip, Don’t forget to make reservations, people! If you’re not sure just call and check anyway.

Second thing, Guinness is not the only beer, there is a wonderful selection of craft beers. However a Guinness will never taste as good as it did in Ireland, so drink as much as you can.

The last and final thing I will suggest, order a pot pie if you can. It was my favorite meal while I was over there, and now everytime I make one I think of a cool sea breeze and fields of green grass

The filling is my own recipe, I usually just throw things in when i'm cooking. So please adjust as needed, add more vegetables or more liquid depending on your own tastes. Cooking the filling is definitely more laid back than the making the pastry. 


Ireland Inspired Chicken Pot Pie

Serving Size: make one full pie or 6 small crocks


INGREDIENTS:

Filling:

  • 3 chicken thighs 
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 3 celery stalks diced
  • 4 mushrooms sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • I medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon thyme 
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth 
  • 1/2 cup cream

Pastry:

  •  60g butter, grated and frozen
  •  200g butter, grated and frozen
  •  350g flour, that has been kept in the freezer for a couple of hours
  •  8-10 tbsp of ice cold water
  •  1 tsp salt
  •  egg wash (one egg and Tbsp cream whisked together)    

DIRECTIONS:   

Make Ruff Puff pastry. This can also be made ahead of time just make sure to let thaw for at least a half an hour.

Preheat oven to 375° F

Place chicken breasts on pan and season with salt and pepper cook for an hour and 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 180° F. In large skillet over medium heat add butter and Saute carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms.  Season with rosemary, thyme and sage, add the peas. When onions are see through sprinkle flour over vegetables and mix thoroughly. Add chicken broth, and cream, keep stirring over medium heat until it starts to thicken, add more cream or chicken broth until the right thickness is desired. Turn heat to low.

Roll out pastry on floured surface. Cut out circles to fit over your ceramics crocks, fill with chicken mixture and then cover with pastry. Crimp edges, and poke holes in the top to help release steam. Brush with egg and cream mixture. Bake at 425° F for 20 minutes.

 

 

 

Blueberry pop-tarts

I have an embarrassing confession to make. I love preservatives.  Ughhhh, please don't start yelling. I know they have a bad rep, and are probably the cause for everything that is wrong in the world. But they are in so many things I love: frozen toaster strudels, fake hand pies, and, you guessed it, pop-tarts. These horrible, yet delicious, preservatives have haunted me. I used to hear them calling out to me as I would walk through the aisles of a grocery store. 

I hate to admit it, but there once was a blissful moment in time when I was ignorant on what was actually going on in my beloved breakfast pastries. Now however, I can't bring my self to eat anything that has ingredients I can't pronounce. 'From Scratch' is the name of the game, and, since I can't resist eating breakfast pastries, I just take the time to make them myself.  Here is a simple recipe for handmade pop-tarts with just an innocent amount of mysteriously bright toppings.

Blueberry Pop-Tarts

serving size:  makes 10 hand pies


ingredients:

 

FILLING:

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

CRUST:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6-8 tablespoons ice cold water

FROSTING:

  • 2 Cups Confectioners Sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • add in some food coloring for color

 

DIRECTIONS:

Start the crust:  First cut up your butter into little cubes, and place in fridge to keep cool. Mix together the dry ingredients.

2.) Pastry blend the butter into the flour. Or you can always pretend you're a crab, and just use your fingers as pincers (sometimes it's just more fun). When it looks like pea sized bits of butter and flour you can begin adding the cold water, stirring well with a fork after each addition. When you grab a handful of the mixture and it holds its form, it is done.

3.) Dump the mixture onto the counter. Don't worry if some of it is still crumbly. It should be; It is what completes the secret method to a flaky crust. First make a big butter-flour-mixture pyramid, and then, using your the palms of your hands, push down from the top until flat. Pull the crumbly bits around the side back up into a pyramid and repeat at least four times.

4.) You should now have a pretty solid dough form. Cut in half, wrap in plastic, and place in fridge to cool. Give it a half an hour to thaw.

Start the filling: Combine blueberries, sugar, butter, lemon zest, and juice together in small pan, and place over med-high heat. Stir gently to combine. Mix together the water and cornstarch, pour into pan (this will help thicken the filling). Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cook until thickened, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool. 

1.) Roll out the dough, and slice into rectangles, placing a spoonful of blueberry filling in the middle of each one. Cover with dough, and crimp the edges with a fork. Poke holes into the tops, and then pop into a 375°F oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let them cool, and then top with a food colored frosting and sprinkles.

 

 

 

 

Rough Puff Pastry

This is one of my absolute favorite things to eat and bake! A lot of people I know seem to be frightened of making the classic puff pastry, but it really is pretty simple.  I would compare it to doing laundry you just have the time, and you have to be good at folding. I recently discovered this quick puff pastry recipe that cuts the folding and refrigerating time in half, so it makes it even simpler to get your pastry fix. You can of course always grab some frozen puff pastry from your local grocery store. From my experience homemade is always better, but if you have access to a better brand of puff pastry than I do, than by all means save yourself a step.If you do make the homemade version make a double batch, that way you can store the rest in your freezer. Thaw as you need it, or in my case, thaw as you crave it.


 


Puff pastry is just so versatile you can fill it with sweet, savory, meaty, vegetably, or even cheesy fillings. The best part is they are all going to taste amazing because they are surrounded by flaky buttery layers of puff pastry. For this version I have taken the sweet route, with an apple cheese danish.


Ruff Puff Pastry

Serving Size: One Apple Danish.


Ingredients:

  •  60g butter, grated and frozen
  •  200g butter, grated and frozen
  •  350g flour, that has been kept in the freezer for a couple of hours
  • 8-10 tbsp of ice cold water
  • 1 tsp salt

 

Directions:

In medium bowl combine flour, salt and 60 grams of butter. Quickly pinch together with your fingers to crumble and coat the butter. Add a tablespoon of water at a time mixing well after each addition, until the dough starts to come together. The dough should be firm enough to knead (it should not be sticky). Knead on a floured surface for about a minute, and let it rest in the fridge for around 5 minutes.

Step 1: Roll dough out into a long rectangle. Sprinkle a 100 grams of grated butter over 2/3rds of the area of the rectangle. Fold over the portion without butter to the center of rectangle, and then fold over the first fold making a small rectangle. Turn the dough 90 degrees.

Step 2: Repeat step 1 with the rest of the butter. Turn 90 degrees the butter is now fully incorporated into the dough. 

Step 3: Complete 3 more folds. Work quickly, there shouldn't be a need to refrigerate. However if it is a hot summer day pop it into the freezer to harden the butter for ten minutes in between a fold. When done folding wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge until needed. If it is not being used right away wrap in plastic and store in freezer, making sure to give a few hours to thaw before use.