Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My love, puff pastry!

My current go-to dessert appetizer friend is Puff Pastry! I keep a couple in the freezer and just defrost when I need a quick appetizer. I find that you can make puff pastry either sweet or savory very easily.

For tonight (my nieces birthday party), I'm bringing a quick tart for the grow-ups to munch. I had some leeks, half an heirloom tomato, some red onion and some gruyere cheese. I lightly caramelized the leeks (rinsed then sliced thinly) with a little EVOO. While the leeks were caramelizing I rolled out the puff pastry to a slightly larger size. Parchment paper on a sheet pan, layed out the puff pastry. Added about half a cup of gruyere, then the caramelized leeks, then the tomatoes and red onions (also thinly sliced). I topped with a little bit of freshly grated parm and called it good! Baked at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until golden brown and slightly puffed. Oh! I also pricked the edges of the pastry before topping with toppings so that the edges wouldn't puff up to much (just use a fork).

A sweet version that I've done several times is a fancy (read easy!) French Apple Tart.

Original Recipe found here:

My modifications include:
(1) Frozen puff pastry (defrost for about an hour outside of the fridge or overnight in the fridge) instead of making my own pastry.
(2) Different Type of apples -- I just used what I had on hand
(3) I used golden plum jam because it's what I had on hand as well. Any clear jam/jelly should be fine.
(4) Omitted the Calvados because I didn't have any

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
  • 1/2 cup plum jelly or warm sieved plum jam
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan while you prepare the

Peel the apples and cut them in half. Remove the stems and cores. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don't worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart's done, heat the jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn't stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

I'm sure this could easily be adapted to other fruits. I've done similar versions but with plums with an almond / mascarpone cheese base. Basically fruit on top of puff pastry baked in the oven. Easy!

Friday, June 24, 2011


I'm currently getting SUPER excited for the hubs and my trip to Italy. Ok, I was probably SUPER excited yesterday and last week and when we booked the tickets several months ago. BUT every day we are a little closer and every day I am a little more SUPER excited about. That's a lot of SUPER.

We fly in and out of Milan (by way of Amsterdam). When we arrive we'll jump right on a train and head to the Cinque Terre on Italian coast. This will be my third visit (once in college and once with my Mom a few years back) but the first for Pete (actually Pete's first visit to Italy period). We'll be spending 4 blissful days doing nothing but sitting in the sun, eating and most likely some hikes between the five villages. A few pictures from my last trip:


Via della amore

Mamma and me in Vernazza

After the Cinque Terre will take the train to Firenze (Florence) where we'll be for three days. We're staying at Il Bargello B&B. Firenze is very close to my heart after spending 4 months there during college for my study abroad program. I'm excited to show this lovely city to Pete! We may take in a wine tour while we're there from the folks at Tuscan Trails. We're trying to minimize any major touristy things on this trip but a trip to Firenze is really not complete without seeing the David and visting the Uffizi so we'll probably have to squeeze those in between all the gelato and wine!

Me with the Ponte Vecchio in the background

A clever sign I found in Florence
After Firenze, we have two to-be scheduled days. We're thinking maybe Parma or Bologna which are supposed to be super foodie cities. We may take the train down to Rome for the day (St. Peters is one of those not to be missed items in my book!). Who knows where the train may take us!

Our trip ends in Lago Como in the lovely city of Varenna. We'll be staying at Villa Toretta. This is another somewhat less touristy area where we plan to do as little as possible and eat as much as possible! We're staying 4 days here as well so we may take a day trip up into Switzerland if the mood moves us.

View of Lago Como

So overall we're aiming for a relaxing 15 or so days! You can imagine why we're so excited!!