Puff Pastry sheets are available most everywhere these days. Making your own puff pastry dough is a daunting task. It is very rewarding to do, but if it is available in the grocery without all the work, why not take advantage? Puff pastry is a yeast dough that is rolled, slathered with butter, folded, chilled, rolled, slathered with more butter, folded, and chilled. This is repeated over and over and takes a long while to make. The reason for all this rolling, buttering, folding and chilling is to accomplish multitudes of layers of pocketed butter and air that is trapped in the process. The result is a dough that will puff up most gratifyingly when baked. It is flaky and rich, and is the type of dough used to make croissants.
There is no mystery to using puff pastry dough. It comes in two frozen sheets per box. It takes at least a half hour to thaw completely, so set it out to thaw with plenty of time ahead. The only thing to remember with puff pastry dough is that scraps of dough cannot be balled up and rolled out to reuse. The layers upon layers of air will have been disturbed and will not perform with the same airy results.
Try this Gourmet Presentation for Chicken
The dough can be rolled out to twice its size, giving great value. One sheet will roll out to a 14 x 14 inch square, yielding four 7 inch squares, which can be used for things like individual Beef or Chicken Wellingtons. These require a lot more work than some easy recipes, but one that is quite simple and truly gourmet in taste is using these squares to make Chicken and Brie Packets. Cut 1 1/2 cups precooked chicken into small cubes. Cut 6 ounces Brie cheese into small cubes. Chop 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary and 2 tablespoons of scallions and mix with 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Divide the chicken and brie between the four squares, then sprinkle on the rosemary mixture. Fold up the corners, dabbing water on each corner so the next will stick. Brush with an egg wash for a lovely finish, and bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and brown. These are so gourmet looking and tasting, you will get raves. This recipe is for 4 packets. Double the amounts if using the second pastry sheet.
Appetizers Easy, Quick, Delicious
Other things to make, and very rewarding, are appetizers. Little rolls or pinwheels are simple and can be made last moment, or made ahead with plenty of time to spare and reheated. Roll out a sheet of the pastry and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle on two or three ingredients of choice such as grated Parmesan, cheese slices, ham slices, pesto, gremolata, chopped herbs, nuts, pine nuts. The list goes on and on. Roll the pastry into a log and cut into quarter inch slices and lay them flat on a baking sheet. They will look all crinkly before baking, but as they puff they fill out into wonderful round discs. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes until puffed and golden. Good combinations are grated Parmesan, coarse pepper and sea salt, or pesto and chopped walnuts, or try brushing on Dijon mustard, parmesan, ham slices and slices of Gruyere cheese. Roll, cut and bake. Use little Smokies and cut the rolled out dough to about 1 1/2 inch wide strips. Further cut the strips to about 3 inch lengths. Roll the smokies into the strips, sealing with water at the end. Bake at 375 for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Easy Desserts with a Gourmet Presentation
One of the simplest desserts is to roll out the pastry and cut into 2 inch squares. Lay about � ounce of bittersweet chocolate in the center, then roll and enclose the chocolate. An egg wash will make the finish shiny if desired, but is not necessary. Bake as above. Make slightly smaller squares and set them into mini muffin tins. Press in the center a little. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes, then press in the centers again and bake for 6 to 8 minutes more, until golden and once more press in the center. Fill with 1 small cube of Brie, a dab of cherry preserves, and chopped nuts of choice, such as pecans or pistachios. Bake 3 to 5 minutes more, until Brie has melted slightly.
These are all great ideas for using Puff Pastry sheets. Give versatile Puff Pastry a try, because once you see how easy it is, you will want to use it at every turn.
About The Author
My name is Chris Rawstern and I have been on a cooking and baking journey for 42 years. Many people have asked what A Harmony of Flavors means. Have you ever had a meal where the visual presentation was stunning, the smells were incredible, the taste was so remarkable that you ate slowly savoring every bite, wishing the experience would never end? Then you have experienced what a truly harmonious meal can be like.
My passion is to teach people how to create a Harmony of Flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own.
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