May 23, 2010

Blue Cheese, Raspberry and Pecan Spirals

The culinary disaster of my weekend.

Our good friends M & M were having one of their famous potluck dinner parties... the kind where everyone brings something spectacular and we inevitably all eat ourselves into complete illness. Their counters are, without fail, covered with an impressive array of our friends' culinary risks, gourmet masterpieces, and downright delicious comfort foods. So, naturally, my brain's store of recipes and ideas was moving a mile a minute that day as I tried to decide what to bring.

Well, I got a little too "creative." Five hours and a huge mess later, I found myself prying the fruits of my labor off of the baking sheet with a steel spatula with pathetically little success. Though they were seriously unattractive, these 'blue cheese, raspberry, and pecan pastry puff spirals' actually ended up being delicious. In hindsight, I know exactly what I would do differently. The first would be not to have made a recipe up off of the top of my head like I did here... The second would be to consider the fact that (hello!) the sugars from the exposed raspberry preserves would burn all over the pan when baked... And third, why oh why did I think it was a good idea to make my own flaky puff pastry from scratch for the very first time when I was bringing the resulting dish to a party?

Next time, I'll use better judgment. However, with the modification below of baking this appetizer as a flat sheet instead of rolls, this recipe would actually be quite a success.

Blue Cheese, Raspberry and Pecan Puff Pastry Bites
1 recipe quickest puff pastry (below), or two-store bought sheets of phyllo dough
6 oz. fresh raspberry preserves
16 oz. good quality blue cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 egg, beaten

Unroll the pastry dough on a lightly greased baking sheet. Using your fingers or a brush, egg wash the edges of the pastry to approx. 1 inch in. Spread the jam over the dough, then top evenly with the blue cheese, and then the pecans.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then gently slide the "pastry pies" onto a cutting board. Using a pizza slicer, gently cut the dough into large, uneven triangles and serve.

Quickest Puff Pastry (recipe from Danger Kitten Bakes. Thanks Elena!)
2 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter  
1/2 c cold tap water  
1 tsp salt  
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour

Cut 2 sticks butter into 1/2 inch dice and refrigerate.
Measure the water and stir in the salt to dissolve. Set aside. Coarsely dice the remaining 4 T butter. Place flour in the work bowl of a food processor and 4 T of butter. Pulse until the butter is absorbed--it should be ground finely, with no pieces of butter showing.
Add the chilled butter and pulse a couple of times to distribute. Add the water with the processor running. Shape dough into a rectangle and place between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.
Press dough with a rolling pin to flatten, then roll back and forth several times with a rolling pin to make a 12x18 inch rectangle.
Peel away top layer of plastic wrap and turn dough over onto the floured work surface. Peel away the second layer of plastic wrap and fold the dough in thirds the short way, to make a 4x18 inch rectangle. Then roll the dough up from one of the 4-inch ends. Make sure to roll the end under the dough. Press the roll of dough out into a square, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm.
Use dough within 2 to 3 days. Or freeze up to one month and defrost in refrigerator overnight before using.

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