Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Studio 5: Puff Pastry Quick & Easy Bites

Here's the 2nd part of my Studio 5 visit today...click here to watch my segment on re-purposing calendars.

As much as I love to cook, I LOVE to spend time with family & friends during the holiday season.  I'm always looking for ways to celebrate with as little fuss as possible.  My secret (but not anymore!) weapon/ingredient...Puff Pastry!



It can be a little intimidating... maybe it's the word 'pastry', maybe because it's frozen?  It's actually quite forgiving and I think much easier to use then Filo dough.

First of all, you can find Frozen Puff Pastry in the freezer section of any grocery store.  Walmart seemed to have the best price of about $4 a package.  I like to have a few of these in my freezer all the time for those last-minute needs, which seem to pop up more during the holidays than any other time.

You'll get 2 sections in each package.  You can wrap up the 2nd section and keep it in the fridge for a few days if you need to.

It's best to defrost in the fridge, but you can do a quick thaw that takes about 30 minutes.  You can learn everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) you wanted to know about puff pastry at http://www.puffpastry.com/.  Yes, there is an entire website devoted to it.

Just make sure your pastry is cold to the touch and keep it a little floured so it isn't sticky.
You really only need a rolling pin and a knife to create shapes, but I will say I do enjoy using some of these tools.

That's it!  The rest is just your creativity and some egg wash :).  You'll need that to make it stick together and give it that pretty sheen when baked.

I've prepared 10 super easy holiday bites (both savory and sweet) for you, most with ingredients I had on hand.  Remember, these can be made ahead of time, kept in the fridge (or even the freezer) and then baked right before you need them.

Palmiers (elephant ears)

3 ingredients.  Sugar, Salt & 1/2 pkg. Puff Pastry.  350 Oven.

Mix 1 cup sugar with 1/2 tsp coarse salt.

Cover the rolling area with about a cup of white sugar.  Place pastry on top of it.  cover the top with more white sugar.

Roll out so sugar is embedded into the dough.  Roll to approx. 10" square.

Fold ends towards center.  Do it again.  You now have a rectangle with 8 layers.  Cut into 3/8"  pieces and lay on parchment paper cut side up.  Leave lots of space between each Palmier, as they will spread.  After 5 minutes turn Palmiers over.  Cook for another 3 minutes.  Watch closely so sugar doesn't burn.  Cool.

Options:  Add a little cinnamon to your sugar.  Or dip half the Palmier in chocolate.


Proscuitto Twists

3 ingredients: Thinly sliced proscuitto, butter, Italian seasoning and puff pastry.  400 Oven.

Roll out pastry into square.  Cut into 1/2" strips.  Brush with egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp water).  Lay strips of Proscuitto on each strip.  Transfer and twist as you lay each piece on baking sheet.  Brush exposed pastry with more egg wash and sprinkle with seasoning.

Bake for 20 minutes of until golden brown.  Remove and immediately brush exposed pastry with melted butter.



Smokie wraps

3 ingredients:  Little Smokies, Honey Dijon mustard and Puff Pastry.  400 Oven.

Roll out pastry into square.  Cut in to 1/2" strips.  Spread each strip generously with mustard.  Place Smokie at bottom of strip and roll, making sure to overlap pastry.  Brush tops with egg wash and bake for  15 minutes or until golden brown.  Insert toothpick if desired.  Serve with dipping sauce if desired.


Lingonberry Meatball Croissant

3 ingredients: Meatballs, Lingonberry sauce and Puff Pastry.  400 oven.

I used the chicken meatballs from costco, but any will do.  I got the Lingonberry sauce from Ikea.  So good!

Roll out pastry into square.  Cut into 3" squares.  Place hand a meatball, cut side down in middle of square.  Place a scant tsp of sauce over the top.  Let is drop down the sides a bit.  Moisten the opposing corners with egg wash and wrap over the meatball, pressing to make sure it won't come undone.  Brush exposed pastry with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.


Baked Caramel Apple

Puff pastry is commonly used for whole baked apples.  I came up with this mini version that is so fun to pop into your mouth.  Make sure it cools a bit though!

5 ingredients:  Baking Apple, Sugar, cinnamon, Wrapped caramels and Puff Pastry.  450 oven.

Peel apple.  Use a melon scooper to scoop out a ball from apple.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Mix some sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and roll apple balls in it.

Roll out pastry dough into a square and cut 3" squares.  Place apple/sugar balls in center.  Cut caramel squares into 3 and place one piece on top of apple.  Pull all four corners on top of caramel to create a parcel.  Use egg wash to secure.  Brush exposed pastry with egg wash and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. 



Tomato Cheese pizza bites

5 Ingredients: Ripe tomatoes (smallish), Monterey Jack Cheese, Goat Cheese and Fresh basil or parsley.  400 oven.

Roll out pastry into a square and cut with a 3" circle cutter (I used a fluted one).  Place on parchment paper on baking sheet.

Lay 2 thin pieces of Jack cheese.  Lay tomato on top of that.  Salt & pepper.  Sprinkle minced herbs and a little bit of goat cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

  Mushroom Sausage Parcels

5 ingredients: Medium sized mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, breakfast sausage links and Gruyere cheese.  400 oven.

Roll out pastry sheet into a square.  Cut 3" squares.

Brush mushrooms to clean and remove stem.  Place a small piece of sun dried tomatoes on the inside and then a small piece of sausage into that.  Place mushroom down, smooth side up on pastry.  Wrap pastry around it, using egg wash to secure.  Place on baking sheet and brush exposed pastry with egg wash.  Sprinkle with  Italian seasoning.  (I like Johnny's Garlic).

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

White chocolate Cheese tartlets

Roll out pastry and cut into 3" square.  Cut in half to create triangles.  use egg wash to connect two points of rectangle and push into a mini muffin pan.  One corner will be high that the rest.  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.





ingredients:
·         6 oz. good-quality white chocolate, chopped.
·         12 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
·         1/2 cup butter, room temp.
·         1/4 cup powdered sugar
·         2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
·         2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Whip cheese cake ingredients until fluffy.  Pipe on top of cooled pastry and top with a fresh raspberry or some other kind of fruit.  Dust with powdered sugar.


Shallot and Bacon Tartlets

Roll out pastry and cut into 2 1/2" square and place into a mini muffin pan.










ingredients:
·         1 egg
·         2 Tbsp half & half cream
·         Salt & Pepper

Place 1 tsp of caramelized onions and a few pieces of bacon in bottom of each pastry cup.  Pour 1 tsp. egg mixture over onion/bacon.  Sprinkle with a bit of green onion and top with a few pieces of grape tomatoes, cut into quarters.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.


Cobb Salad Mini Sandwiches

I'm a big fan of a Cobb Salad...here it is in mini sandwich form.  What a yummy bite!

Roll out pastry and cut into 3" fluted circles and place onto a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Bake at 250 for 25 minutes or until gold brown.  let cool and then carefully cut in half with a serrated knife.

ingredients:
·         3 hardboiled eggs, chopped.
·         1/2 cup seafood (I used Lagostinos, but shrimp or crab will also work well)
·         2 Tbsp. Cooked bacon, minced
·         2 Tbsp. Green Onion, minced
·         2 Tbsp. Crumbled Blue Cheese
·         2 Tbsp. Celery, minced
·         1/4 cup mayonaise
·         Salt & Pepper

Mix all ingredients to create salad.  Fill puff pastry sandwiches and place as thin slice of tomato (cut in half) on it.



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