Tag Archives: puff pastry

Romantic Mains to Impress

10 Feb

Even though I am not currently dating someone special… I still like to cook something nice, even if it’s just for myself.

After all, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate LOVE and there are many ways to express and celebrate love – love towards your parents, love towards your kids, love towards your siblings, love towards your pets, love towards your partner, love towards your neighbors, your family in general, your co-workers, your friends and most of all, LOVE TOWARDS YOURSELF.  Because, if you don’t love yourself, how do you expect others to love you too???

Here are a few ideas I have cooked in the past to impress a few loved ones…  hope you choose to make one to impress YOURSELF!!!

Cheese, Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti

My Plate

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes over Pasta

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes - 3 tom

Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

My Maggiano's Mushrooms

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Bake

??????????

Asparagus Tart

ASparagus Tart - Before 2 KFC

Korean Seasoned Tofu

Sesame Sauce

Chame’s Spinach Salad with Figs and Blue Cheese

Chame's Salad

Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Almond Praline

pear-w-blue-cheese-2-comp

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Apricot Walnut Palmiers

4 Jan

This is my take on a baklava-inspired puff pastry sweet appetizer… I wanted to do something completely nutty in the filling, but taking advantage of the unsulfured dried fruits available when I travel to the US, I decided to look for a recipe using dried fruit.

I started out with Giada’s Apricot Walnut Phyllo cups, but to make it easy on me, I would do palmiers out of puff pastry. I usually do not use orange zest in my cooking because I find it too bitter for my taste, but the crowd seemed to like it a lot. It brought out the apricot taste even more.

Apricot Walnuts Palmiers  KFC

APRICOT WALNUT PALMIERS

1 1/2 cups dried apricots, unsulfured preferably, chopped a bit
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon orange zest, from 1 large orange, plus more for garnish, optional,
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  1. In the bowl of a food processor mix together the dried apricots, walnuts, honey, orange juice and zest. Pulse a few times so it creates a choppy mixture.
  2. Open the puffed pastry (which comes folded in three). Place some flour onto a clean surface and flour the rolling pin too. Roll out the pastry so that it loses the creases where the folds were.
  3. Spread the apricot walnut mixture in an even layer leaving a border on one edge.
  4. Palmiers - in progress  KFC
  5. Start rolling from the farthest edge from the border you left without filling. Roll the pastry onto itself until you create a log.  If you prefer to make them in palmier form, roll them from two opposites sides until the 2 rolls meet somewhere in the middle.
  6. Repeat with the second pastry. Place logs in the fridge covered with a moist paper towel for about 10-15 minutes or until you’re ready to bake them. This is important for the pastry to harden a bit again. It’ll be easier to cut if the pastry is cold than if it is at room temp.
  7. Slice the logs into ½ inch pieces. Place onto a baking sheet.  I put some organic sugar on top, but I did not love how those turned out, but I forgot to take a pic without it.
  8. palmiers in progress 2  KFC
  9. Bake in a 425F oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden delicious.

I suggest that if you have leftovers, heat them back a bit in a toaster oven… This will soften the apricots in the filling, which tend to harden when they’re colder.

Next time… I promise to make the nut only mixture I envisioned originally.  But these ones were a nice twist on my original idea…

Mushroom Parmesan Pinwheels

21 Dec

I asked around my foodie friends on the internet on various ideas for appetizers… and my friend Suzanne (I wish I could tag you like on FaceBook)  suggested to make puff pastry pinwheels filled with mushrooms and parmesan cheese.

Having just come from making an amazing mushroom filling for the lasagna at my nephew’s birthday party and knowing how impressed my sister was at the flavors of such filling, I decided to venture myself to making these as one of my savory appetizers. My spinach pinwheels were the HIT of the last baby shower I hosted. Kids love anything savory rolled in puff pastry and these mushroom ones were not the exception.

I have requests for the recipe already… so here it is for all of you interested.

mushroom parm pinwheels  KFC

MUSHROOM PARMESAN PINWHEELS

2 sheets of puffed pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator overnight – I just buy it and place it in the fridge…
24 ounces button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
2 oz goat cheese
2 tbs sour cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
  1. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and continue cooking stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and mushrooms start to sizzle, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the thyme, soy sauce and lemon juice and stir to combine. Add the goat cheese and sour cream and stir once more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool off a bit.
  3. Open the puffed pastry (which comes folded in three). Place some flour onto a clean surface and flour the rolling pin too. Roll out the pastry so that it loses the creases where the folds were.
  4. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and spread an even layer of mushrooms leaving a border on one edge.
  5. mushroom parm in progress  KFC
  6. Start rolling from the farthest edge from the border you left without mushrooms. Roll the pastry onto itself until you create a log.
  7. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry in the package. Place logs in the fridge covered with a moist paper towel for about 10-15 minutes or until you’re ready to bake them. This is important for the pastry to harden a bit again. It’ll be easier to cut if the pastry is cold than if it is at room temp.
  8. Slice the logs into ¼ inch pieces. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a 425F oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the cheeses smell great and the pastry is puffed and golden delicious.
  9. Transfer them to a cool plate and serve them immediately. But they will keep very well at room temperature as long as there’s not a lot of humidity… lots of humidity makes puff pastry soggy.

I prepare these the day before the party. Just cover them and place them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

Asparagus Tart

29 Oct

I have been staying with my sister in Southern Florida during the arrival of my first nephew… and I decided to make a bunch of recipes that could be quite challenging or expensive to make in Puerto Rico – challenging because not all ingredients are readily available anywhere, and when you finally find the ingredients you need they’re not as fresh as you would like or are very expensive to just try out a recipe.

 Such is the case with this tart… I had seen a version of this recipe a few years ago and now I said it was time to try it out. But of course, I can’t seem to follow a recipe to a “T”. I couldn’t remember where I had read this before or the specifics on all the ingredients.

 So I had to start all over again with a recipe all my own. I think I may need to thank Martha or someone else at the Food Network for the inspiration…

 

ASPARAGUS TART

 

 1 package puffed pastry, thawed in the refrigerator for about 3-4 hours
 1 package of thin asparagus, trimmed of the woodsy part in the bottom
 About ¾ cup of Parmesan cheese
 About 4 oz of goat cheese
 Garlic Salt and Pepper
 Olive Oil
 Some spelt or whole wheat pastry flour to roll out the pastry

 

  1.  Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Open up each sheet of puff pastry and with a little flour stretch it just a bit… enough to kind of erase the creases but not that much that the pastry sheet would not fit the baking tray you have.
  3. Using a paring knife, score a ½ inch border around the pastry sheet but be careful not to cut through the pastry.
  4. Prick the inside of the pastry using a fork. Prick especially the corners to make sure the inside will not puff up when cooked in the oven. Make sure the border you created is not pricked… you want the outside border to puff up.
  5. Scatter Parmesan cheese on the pricked portion of the pastry. Sprinkle it evenly all over the bottom. Start placing asparagus one next to the other, tips facing out and alternating one tip towards the right and the next tip towards the left. You just want to make it look pretty… no matter how you place the asparagus, it’ taste good all the same, so no worries.
  6. After you create a whole layer of asparagus on top of the pastry, sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Drizzle some olive oil on top. Afterwards, place dollops of goat cheese on top of asparagus.
  7. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes… or until the edges are puffed up and look golden brown.

 

I made this recipe the other day for my sister, brother in law, uncle, my sister’s mother-in-law, mom… everyone was impressed. The flavors are spectacular. Even my uncle who is super quiet said I graduated myself in the kitchen – he’s not used to tasting my cooking at all. My sister’s mother-in-law was so pleased she told me she wanted to learn how to make it to replicate it again at home.

This will definitely become part of my repertoire for when people come over to visit… or even to impress my next boyfriend.

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pastelillo

18 Jan

I have an “obsession” with puffed pastry…  I admit it.  It’s super versatile and easy to use, particularly when you’re cooking for company.  Just add your favorite filling and you have a nice dish.

This time around I decided to mix together the ingredients of my favorite appetizer of the Xmas season and make it into a meal… balsamic mushrooms and goat cheese.  Envelope everything inside squares of puffed pastry, add a great green salad and you have a complete meal for a girl’s night together.  Here’s how I did it…

 

MUSHROOM AND GOAT CHEESE PASTELILLO

1 sheet of puffed pastry, thawed in the refrigerator since the night before
½ recipe for Balsamic Mushrooms
4 oz package of goat cheese
2 tbs butter, melted
A bit of flour or cornstarch to roll out the puffed pastry
  1. I’ll be honest… I do not measure a lot.  So I do not know how large I roll out the puffed pastry, but just enough to make 4 medium sized squares to make into these pastelillos.  Each pastelillo serves one not so big eater.  
  2. So before you start rolling out, dust your surface and rolling pin with some whole wheat flour or cornstarch so the pastry does not stick to either one.  Cut the pastry into 4 squares as even as possible.
  3. Lay one of your squares in a diagonal with one corner facing you directly.  Add about 1 ounce of the cream cheese and about ¼ of you mushroom mixture in the half of the square closest to you, leaving about ¼ inch clearance around the edges.   Now, overlap the free side of the square on top of the mixture and pinch all the open sides with a fork to close tightly. Repeat with the 3 remaining squares.
  4. Lay them flat on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the fridge for a few minutes, while the oven preheats to 350F.  I do this because the climate in PR is too hot and usually my pastry tends to give me a bit of trouble by the time I get to the last few squares.  This way the pastry kind of cools off and we make sure it will turn our flaky in the end product.
  5. Brush them with a bit of melted butter on top to help them brown nicely.  Bake the pastries in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.  The smell will tell you when they’re done.

 

Enjoy them with a great salad on the side for a light lunch or a light dinner. 

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