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A Bientot – See You Soon

This is what my parents were supposed to have for breakfast this morning….but I forgot and pulled a brioche out instead…so next time they come I will do these pastries again.

I drove my parents to the airport earlier this afternoon. Every time they come we have a different experience depending on where we are in our life, but it seems like they had a nice visit. There was quite a good amount of wine poured and food enjoyed. There was laughter and sight seeing, a good deal of shopping for the rest of the family. Some clashes did take place, some strong opinions were exchanged, some things were left unsaid.
Each time I wait with them under the Arrival/Departure screen I cannot help but feel a pinch in my heart. I wish I had not said some of the things I reacted to or hugged my mother more instead. Such is life and human nature, I guess. I feel like each time they come I am 16 again, but has grown 10 years by the time they leave. They help me remember who I am and help me get better at the same time. I have wonderful parents: je vous aime Papa et Maman.

One habit they have started for my brother and myself is to load up the fridge and freezer before they leave…"just to help, you know". Their reason is that we provide lodging and transportation and deal with them for 3 weeks. They are the easiest guests to have around! I appreciate them funding my foodie and blogging tastes and take this opportunity to get some lamb, cheeses, blocks of European butter, free range chicken and eggs and other delicacies that I usually try to budget for.
Before we headed out on our (big) food outing I noticed I was out of a few staples, especially puff pastry. Mom suggested we buy some at the store …oh boy! you should have seen the look on my face! It costs nothing to make, only time and a few dough turns on a rainy afternoon while watching your favorite old movies. She gave me "the" look : proud, shocked, worried…. Had I turned into Martha Stewart?

See, it really makes me mad to buy puff pastry when I know how easy and unexpensive it is to make at home. I usually make a big batch and divide it in 4 so I know I’ll have plenty for a while, vaccuum seal it and freeze it. I decided to try a new recipe for a change and did, indeed, for the time of recipe turned into Martha by using hers. It is very straightforward and easy but I somehow prefer the one I usually use from Bo Friberg. I decided to use some right away and got inspired by Cheryl wonderful pastillitos, and folded square of puff pastry and put some cherry preserves in the middle.

Puff Pastry, adapted from Martha Stewart:

Makes about 2 1/2 pounds
For the dough package:
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, well chilled
1 1/4 cups cold water

For the butter package:
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, well chilled

Make the dough package: In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours with the salt. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture; using your fingers or a pastry cutter, incorporate butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Form a well in center of mixture, and pour the water into well. Using your hands, gradually draw flour mixture over the water, covering and gathering until mixture is well blended and begins to come together. Gently knead mixture in the bowl just until it comes together to form a dough, about 15 seconds. Pat dough into a rough ball, and turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly, and place in refrigerator to chill 1 hour.

Make the butter package: Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon flour on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Place uncut sticks of butter on top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon flour. Top with another sheet of paper; using a rolling pin, pound butter to soften and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Remove top sheet of paper, and fold butter package in half onto itself. Replace top sheet of paper, and pound again until butter is about an inch thick. Repeat process two or three times, or until butter becomes quite pliable. Using your hands, shape butter package into a 6-inch square. Wrap well in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator until it is chilled but not hardened, no more than 10 minutes.

Assemble and roll the dough: Remove dough package from refrigerator, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll the dough into a 9 inch square. Place butter package on the center square. Fold corner of dough over the butter package so that it is completely enclosed. Press with your hands to seal.
Using the rolling pin, press down on the dough at regular intervals, repeating and covering the entire surface area, until it is about 1 inch thick. Gently roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 9 by 20 inches, with one of the short sides closest to you. Be careful not to press too hard around the edges, and keep the corners even as you roll out the dough by squaring them with the side of the rolling pin or your hands. Brush off any excess flour. Starting at the near end, fold the rectangle in thirds as you would a business letter; this completes the first single turn.Wrap in plastic wrap; place in refrigerator 45 to 60 minutes.
Remove dough from refrigerator, and repeat process in step 5, giving it five more single turns.Always start with the flap opening on the right as if it were a book. Mark the dough with your knuckle each time you complete a turn to help you keep track. Chill 1 hour between each turn. After the sixth and final turn, wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before using.

For the pastry: cut the dough into 4 inch squares, fold the corners to the centher, create an indentation, brush with egg wash and fill with your favorites: jam, cream cheese, curds, etc…Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

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Alhya October 11, 2006 um 7:46 am

J’ai faim! c’est ultra tentant!

Julia October 11, 2006 um 11:53 am

most of the time I don’t really like puff pastry because it can be so greasy and heavy but yours looks really good(!) love it! A perfect breakfast! =)

wheresmymind October 11, 2006 um 1:07 pm

3 weeks…wow, that is one long visit ๐Ÿ™‚

Lis October 11, 2006 um 3:11 pm

They are beautiful, Helene =) I’ve never made my own puff pastry.. I admit I’m scared to death! hehe What filling did you use?

Anonymous October 11, 2006 um 6:10 pm

Visiting with family is often that way, lots of laughs with a spattering of passionate debates, gotta love that! I’ll have to try out your recipe for puff pastry, will let you know how it turns out.

Anonymous October 11, 2006 um 10:45 pm

Those look amazing Helen! You must bring your apron next time. What fun it will be.

Helene October 11, 2006 um 11:44 pm

Alhya: merci de ta visite, un peu d’huile de coude et le tours est joue!

Julia: this one was not greasy, not my favorite but definetely not daunting to make either.

Wheresmymind: France is so far away and the tickets are so expensive that 3 weeks makes it at least worth it.

Lis: really, if you follow the step it is not deifficult, it is just a lengthy process. I used a cherry preserve filling.

Monisha: this reipe s not my favorite, a little bit heavy but it is smooth and the dough is easy to work with.

Cheryl: I had the last pastillito this morning. They freeze really well, I had to hide it from everybody else.
I am definetely bringing my apron!

loscuadernos January 6, 2007 um 10:49 am

Moi aussi, j’ai faim! I do like puff pastry, although I prefer eating it at home, you can guess why! ๐Ÿ™‚

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