Monday, October 24, 2016

Gratin de Courge Delicata et Quinoa Rouge en Lillet Blanc Crème

    Delicata Squash, Red Quinoa and Lillet Blanc Herb Crème Gratin! 
    Autumn is winter squash time!  I try to feature a few interesting winter squash varieties when they are available each year.  Variety is the spice of life and there certainly are many squash varieties to be found in grocery stores.  
    Winter squash varieties, gourds, pumpkins and summer squash varieties are native to the Americas.  Seeds of some squash were spread worldwide by migrating birds in ancient times, but most squash varietals were not known till Europeans landed in the new world.  
     Domestication of squash began thousands of years ago.  The Native American food trinity (The Three Sisters) of maize, squash and beans provides all the nutritional requirements needed to sustain life.  In modern times, a soup or stew made with these items is more than just a meal.  It is a tradition.      
     Squash is one of the few vegetable plants that is entirely edible.   Every part of the plant can be eaten and there are no toxins.  Some gourd varietals were developed for decorative or utilitarian purposes, like canteens or cups.  Decorative gourds and hard shell gourds are edible, but they are not palatable unless one is really very hungry.  Usually only the gourd seeds are eaten.         
     Many breeds of squash have brilliant colors.  Occasionally the colorful squash varieties are stocked in markets and customers look upon these ancient squash breeds as if they are something new.  Shoppers can be overheard saying things like, "That is a pretty squash!  I wonder what it tastes like?"  Some customers actually say, "That is a squash?  I always thought those colorful things were gourds!"  
     Squash are nutritious and many breeds have medicinal value.  The seeds of some squash breeds contain chemical compounds that actually kill cancer cells.  One thing that I have noticed over the years is that folks who eat plenty of squash tend to be healthier than the average bear.  Every time that I get a belly full of sautéed summer squash and onions, I notice a good strong healthy feeling shortly after the meal.  Squash does not make a belly feel stuffed to the brim, because squash has a high water content.  Squash actually is one of the best dietary foods for controlling excess weight.     
     Many of the hard winter squash varieties are semi sweet tasting after they are cooked.  The most common hard squash cooking methods are roasting or baking.  Some hard winter squash have a thick skin and the cooked squash meat is easily scraped off.  Winter squash that have thin skins are easy to peel with a paring knife after roasting, but many people prefer to east the thin skin.  
     Dumpling Squash and Delicata Squash have similar striated shapes and streaked color combinations.  The flavor of these two squash varieties taste just about the same.  Dumpling Squash tend to be shorter and sometimes they have a ball shape.  Delicata Squash have an oblong cylindrical shape.  Delicata Squash have an edible thin skin.  The colors can vary from pale green stripes on whitish pastel tones to bright yellow orange with deep forest green stripes.  
     A bright yellow and forest green color Delicata Squash color is what I chose for today's recipe.  The pictures of the Delicata Squash halves above were taken after the squash was baked.  Delicata Squash retains its bright color even after it is fully cooked.      
     Lillet Blanc is a classic tonic wine that is made with a Bordeaux region white grape varietal blend and macerated citrus liquor.  It is called tonic wine because Cinchona Bark Liquor (Quinine) is added to the blend.  Lillet Blanc has a classic Noble Rot sweet white raison Bordeaux dessert wine flavor with hint of tart citrus tones and quinine bitterness.  Lillet Blanc is used in a variety of savory and sweet French recipes.  A Lillet Blanc flavored Cream Sauce is a perfect match for Delicata Squash.  Adding a few select herbs enhances the rich flavor.
     Incan Red Quinoa is an ancient high protein super grain.  Red Quinoa is very nutritious and it can make a tummy feel full for hours.  Red Quinoa adds a nice complex grain flavor to the gratin and a nice level of comfort.      
     Gratin basically means "a topping or a sauce coating that is browned."  Golden brown to very light brown is the best color for a gratin.  Excessive browning results in unpleasant bitter flavors.  
     Baking the gratin in an oven till the sauce bubbles and then briefly passing the gratin under a broiler (salamander) is the best cooking method.  Broiling a gratin till it gains a golden brown color only takes a few seconds, so keeping an eye on the gratin is important to do! 

     *This entire recipe yields 1 stuffed squash.  (1 individual portion)

     Red Quinoa:
     Step 1:  Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whole red quinoa.
     Boil for 1 minute.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer the quinoa, till it becomes tender.  (Allow the liquid to reduce and evaporate.  Only add a splash of water if necessary.)
     Step 3:  Drain off any excess liquid.  
     Set the red quinoa aside or chill it for later use. 

     Delicata Squash:
     Step 1:  Select 1 Delicata Squash that is about 8" long and about 3 1/2" to 4 1/2" wide.
     Split the delicata squash in half lengthwise.  
     *Judge which side of the squash will sit flat and stable on a plate.  This half of the squash will be used as the shell, so split the squash accordingly.
     Scrape out the seeds and pulp.
     Step 2:  Place the squash halves on a roasting pan with the skin side facing down.
     Brush the squash flesh with melted unsalted butter.
     Bake in a 325ºF oven till the squash flesh becomes tender.
     Step 3:  Allow the squash to cool to room temperature.
     Set the squash half that will be used as a shell aside.  
     Step 4:  Peel the other roasted Delicata Squash half.
     Cut the peeled Delicata Squash half into large diced pieces and set them aside.
     Béchamel Sauce:
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.   
     Because the size of a Delicata Squash can vary, it is best to make too much sauce, than too little.  Any extra béchamel sauce that can be saved for another recipe.      
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to make a roux.  (The roux should be shiny and not caky looking.)
     Constantly stir till the roux become a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add thick slice of onion.
     Add 1 spice clove.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1/2 of a small bay leaf. 
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 5:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top or chill it for later use.

     Delicata Squash and Red Quinoa en Lillet Blanc Crème:
     This recipes may yield a little bit extra stuffing (farci). 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced peeled celery.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add the reserved prepared red quinoa.
     Add the reserved large diced peeled Delicata Squash.
     Briefly sauté till the squash becomes hot.
     Step 3:  Add 1/3 cup of Lillet Blanc.
     Add 1/4 cup of light chicken broth.
     Add about 2/3 cup of béchamel sauce.  
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 2 pinches of dill weed.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 small pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and white pepper.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium sauce consistency that easily coats the squash.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Allow the ingredients to cool to room temperature.

     Gratin de Courge Delicata et Quinoa Rouge en Lillet Blanc Crème:
     Step 1:  Place the reserved roasted Delicata Squash half on a countertop.
     Use a slotted spoon to mound the Delicata Squash and Red Quinoa en Lillet Blanc Crème in the prepared squash shell.  
     *If there is extra stuffing, then just snack on the excess stuffing!  This is what is known as a cook's reward!
     Step 2:  Place the stuffed squash on a roasting pan.
     Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of finely grated Gruyere Cheese over the stuffing.
     Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of plain French bread crumbs over the stuffing.
     Drizzle a few drops of melted unsalted butter over the toppings.
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Roast till the stuffing becomes hot and the sauce starts to bubble.
     Step 4:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Place the pan under a broiler that is set to a moderate temperature.
     Broil till the gratin topping turns a golden brown color.  (This only takes a few seconds!)
     Step 5:  Use a long spatula to place the finished stuffed squash gratin on a plate.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of minced Italian Parsley over the gratin and plate.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Viola!  A very nice gratin style Delicata Squash that has an intriguing Lillet Blanc flavor! 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pork Loin Cutlets with Sauerkirsche Mint Crème

     Pork Loin Cutlets with Sour Cherry Mint Crème!
     Autumn is here!  With autumn comes recipes for chilly weather.  During the past few years I have posted many French, German, Swiss and Austrian recipes for the fall season.  It seems like the cuisine of those countries dominates autumn cuisine.  
     Early in my career, I apprenticed in a few restaurants that were run by French, German and Swiss chefs.  This was long before the fusion cuisine trend and modern health cuisine trend came to be.  European cuisine still featured traditional classic food.  Sauces were rich and full of classic flavors.  Presentations of the classic food were conservative and excess garnishing was taboo.  It took a great degree of skill to cook the old classic entrées ands this cuisine commanded a price.   
     Back in those days, the small European fine dining restaurants in America always offered a special du jour menu of nice creations for the autumn season.  The chefs liked to offer their own creations for the season and traditional favorites of their home country.  A few German chefs that I worked with liked to offer veal with dried or preserved tart summer cherries flambeed with kirschwater and finished with cream.  This is not a recipe that you will find in many cookbooks, but it is a nice chilly weather entrée, because the sweet tart cream flavor is so decadent.  
     Mint in a sauce brings recent memories of warmer seasons.  Understanding the psychology of how food affects perception is part of planning a good plate of seasonal food.  For example, warm weather harvest items that were preserved for later use, can please guests later in the year when the weather is hopelessly cold.  On a chilly dreary day, a rich sauce made with mint and cherries inspires thoughts of past spring and summer seasons, which in turn inspires cheery warm conversation.
     Classically, today's recipe is best suited for veal cutlets, but the sauce also goes well with pork or chicken.  Anything that can be done with veal can also be done with lean pale color pork loin meat.     
     Pork Loin Cutlets with Sauerkirsche Mint Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Place 10 dried sour cherries (wild cherries) in a cup of warm water and soak them till they soften.
     Drain the water off of the reconstituted sour cherries.
     Cut the cherries in half and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Cut 3 thin pork loin cutlets that weigh about 2 to 3 ounces apiece.
     Gently pound the cutlets flat with a meat mallet.
     Step 3:  Lightly season the cutlets with sea salt and white pepper.
     Dredge the cutlets in flour.
     Step 4:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Place the floured pork cutlets in the pan.
     Sauté the cutlets on both sides till light golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Remove the cutlets from the pan and set them aside on a platter.
     Remove the excess grease from the pan.
     Step 6:  Place the pan back over medium heat.
     Add the the reconstituted sour cherry halves.
     Add 2 ounces of kirschwasser.  (cherry schnapps)
     Step 7:  Add 1 cup of cream.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of crushed dried mint.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 small pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Bring the cream to a gentle boil.
     Step 8:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Return the sautéed pork cutlets to the pan.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 9:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Overlap the pork loin cutlets on the front half of a plate.
     Spoon the sour cherry mint creme sauce over and around the pork cutlets.
     Garnish the plate with root vegetables and a seasonal squash of your choice.  
     Serve with a potato of your choice on the side.    
     * The vegetables in the photos are Buttered Purple Carrot Dimes, Pattypan Squash and a peeled whole Parsley Root with the green parsley top attached.  These are classic autumn season vegetables that look nice on a plate!

     This is a nice German style pork entrée for chilly dreary weather!  

Monday, October 17, 2016

White Chocolate and Honey Bourbon White Pumpkin Soup

     A Rich Semi Sweet White Pumpkin Soup For A Chilly Evening!
     I published a traditional savory pumpkin soup recipe a few years ago.  Today's White Chocolate and Honey Bourbon White Pumpkin Soup is quite different.  White Pumpkin has a naturally sweet flavor, like ripe Mexican Calabaza.  The white pumpkin flavor is more gentle than a standard orange hybrid pumpkin.  Both white chocolate and bourbon are a nice match for the flavor of white pumpkin.  Only a small amount of spice is needed to flavor this soup or the delicate flavors will be lost.  Honey naturally sweetens this soup.  Honey is a perfect match for the bourbon flavor.
     To make a mini white pumpkin soup bowl, the small pumpkin is cut open from the top.  The loose pulp and seeds are scraped out with a spoon.  The pumpkin is baked, till it becomes tender, then most of the pumpkin meat is carefully scraped out.  I do say carefully, because one hole in the thin white pumpkin skin will render the pumpkin shell useless as a natural bowl.  
     In the old days of fine dining, serving a pumpkin soup in a raw pumpkin shell was taboo.  A raw pumpkin shell is not integral to a soup, because it cannot be eaten.  Good chefs cook the pumpkin shell soup bowls.  After the soup is eaten, the customer has the option of splitting the pumpkin shell open and scraping the nice tasting pumpkin meat from the cooked shell.     
      I have baked over 400 mini pumpkins at a time as a saucier at yacht clubs for large dinner part events.  Cooking 400 mini pumpkins at one time to perfection does take some skill.  If the pumpkin flesh is undercooked, it will not puree smooth.  If the pumpkin is overcooked, then the mini pumpkin shell will be easily torn.             
     Today's white pumpkin soup is one of a kind!  The soup is not too sweet, so it can be served as an appetizer in a multi course formal dinner.  Many traditional European formal multi course dinners feature a dolce item early in a multi course dinner that revitalizes guests with energy for conversation.  White Chocolate and Honey Bourbon White Pumpkin Soup can also be served on its own as a dessert course.  Either way, this soup is a must try! 

     *This entire recipe yields one portion.  (About 2 cups)  

     Mini White Pumpkin Preparation:
     Step 1:  Select a mini white pumpkin that is about 5" tall.  The pumpkin must be stable when stood upright. 
     Cut a large circle, around the stem on the top of the white pumpkin to make a bowl and a cap.
     Pry the cap off of the bowl.
     Scrape the loose pulp and seeds out of the white pumpkin bowl and off of the cap.
     Step 2:  Place 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in the white pumpkin bowl.
     Place the cap back on the bowl.
     Step 3:  Place the white pumpkin on a roasting pan.
     Bake the pan in a 290ºF oven.
     Slowly roast the pumpkin till the pumpkin meat becomes tender and sweet.  
     *Do not overcook the white pumpkin or the skin will easily tear!  By using a lower baking temperature, the time window for when the white pumpkin is finished baking will be longer and there will be less of a chance of overcooking the white pumpkin shell.  The pumpkin meat will also become "sweeter" when a lower temperature is used.
     Step 4:  Allow the baked white pumpkin to cool to room temperature.
     Pour the butter from inside the baked white pumpkin shell, into a small container and set it aside. 
     Step 5:  Carefully use a spoon the scrape most of the pumpkin meat out of the shell.  Try to leave a 3/16" to 1/4" layer of pumpkin meat in the shell, so the pumpkin shell walls are not weak. 
     Scrape some of the pumpkin meat off of the cap.
     Set the pumpkin meat aside in a container.
     Keep the white pumpkin shell soup bowl and cap warm on a stove top.
     *If a hole is poked in the white pumpkin shell, then just serve the soup in a small soup bowl!
     White Chocolate and Honey Bourbon White Pumpkin Soup:
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the reserved pumpkin baking butter.  (About 1/2 tablespoon)
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring with a whisk.   (About 2 1/2 to 3 teaspoons.) 
     Stir the roux till it becomes a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cups of milk, while whisking.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add the reserved white pumpkin meat.
     Step 3:  Add 1 small pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 small pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Occasionally whisk the ingredients as the soup comes to a simmer.  The soup will be a very thin consistency and the volume.
     Simmer the soup for 10 minutes.  
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Puree the soup with an electric immersion blender, food processor or blender.
     Step 5:  Return the puree soup to a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of sour mash bourbon whiskey.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the soup is a medium thin consistency that gan coat a spoon.  (Tbe volume should be about 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups.)   
     Step 6:  Add 1 tablespoon of chopped white chocolate.
     Add 1 teaspoon of honey.
     Stir till the chocolate melts.
     Step 7:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Place the white pumpkin shell bowl on a plate or in a shallow soup bowl.
     Ladle the soup into the pumpkin shell bowl.  (Their may be some extra soup that will not fit in the shell.)
     Place the pumpkin cap on the white pumpkin soup bowl.
     Dust the plate with 1 pinch of cinnamon.   

     White Chocolate and Honey Bourbon White Pumpkin Soup has a very satisfying elegant flavor!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bananenkürbis Krautstrudel

     Sweet Sour Banana Squash and Cabbage Strudel! 
     Nearly every country near the Alps Mountain Range has a strudel tradition.  Many say that Austria is where the first strudel was made, but some say that the recipe originated in Eastern Europe during the same period of time.  Turkey and Persia both have been making butter leavened pastries like strudel since ancient times, so more than likely, the origin of strudel dates back further than what one would initially think.  
     There are many strudel variations.  The filling, the pastry and the shape of strudel can vary greatly from one region to the next.  The flavor of strudel fillings can be sweet, savory or a sweet-sour combination.  The pastry for strudel can be phyllo, puff pastry or Irish Pastry Dough.  The type of flour used to make the pastry can also vary.  Semolina, spelt and potato flour are used to make certain kinds of strudel. 
     Strudels that have a dry ingredient filling are usually made by rolling the pastry dough and dry ingredients together.  When this kind of strudel is sliced, the cross section looks like a spiral.  The spiral shape literally is what the word strudel means.
     Not all strudel are rolled like a spiral.  Strudels made with wet fillings are usually a cylinder shape.  The pastry dough surrounds and seals in the wet filling, just like in today's Bananenkürbis Krautstrudel recipe.   
     Krautstrudel is a strudel made with cabbage.  The cabbage can be fresh.  The cabbage can also be sweet or savory sauerkraut.  When fresh cabbage is used, it is braised and the flavor can be savory or sweet-sour.  Sausage is sometimes added to Krautstrudel.  For today's recipe, Banana Squash is added.
     Bananenkürbis is the German word for Banana Squash.  All hollow hard shell squash, like Buttercup, Acorn and Banana Squash originated in South America.  How the seeds spread around the world is not clear.  Some traveled by natural means while other seed varieties were part of the Columbian Exchange.  
     Banana Squash is the most popular hard shell squash worldwide.  This vegetable has a nice flavor and they grow to a huge size.  Banana Squash can weigh over 30 pounds!  Produce workers at a food market will usually cut a large banana squash into small sections for cooks that do not intend to feed an army.
     There are several varieties of Banana Squash and most are identified by color.  I used an orange skin banana squash for today's strudel recipe.  The flavor of this squash is slightly sweet, fruity and rich tasting.  
    Banana Squash is popular in Northern European countries.  This squash is a fall harvest vegetable that has a fairly long shelf life if it is chilled.  Banana Squash really tastes nice in a sweet-sour cabbage filling for Krautstrudel and it also adds natural sweetness.   

     Pâte Feuilléte (French Puff Pastry Dough):
     Freshly made puff pastry dough is a classic choice for making strudel.  Hand crafted puff pastry dough always looks better than frozen puff pastry products.   
     A home cook that makes fresh puff pastry can really impress guests in a big way.  Making good puff pastry dough is an accomplishment to be proud of, yet it actually is not difficult to make.  The process is time consuming, but because the puff pastry has to be chilled between each step, it can be made when time is convenient throughout the day. 
     Follow this link to the recipe in this website.  Both types of puff pastry making are described in the recipes.  

     Sweet-Sour Banana Squash and Cabbage:
     This recipe yields about 3 1/2 to 4 cups!  This is enough to make a medium size strudel like the one in the photos above. 
     The sweet-sour flavor must be adjusted twice, because after the banana squash cooks, the squash becomes sweeter.  Apple cider vinegar creates the sour flavor.  Some apple cider brands taste better than others.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small chopped smoked bacon.
     Sauté till the bacon is a light golden brown color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 minced shallot.
     Add 1/3 cup of julienne sliced Bermuda Onion. 
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 4 cups of very thin sliced cabbage.
     Add 2 1/2 cups of banana squash that is cut into small bite size pieces.
     Sauté till the cabbage wilts and the squash starts to gain a few golden highlights.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar.
     Add 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger powder.
     Add 2 pinches of ground clove.
     Add 2 pinches of cinnamon.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground fenugreek.
     Add 1 laurel leaf.
     Add Kosher Salt and white pepper to taste.  (2 or 3 pinches) 
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium/medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Cover the pan with a lid.
     Braise the ingredients, till the cabbage becomes tender.  (About 10 minutes)
     Step 7:  Remove the lid.
     *Taste the liquid to check the sweet and sour balance.  The balance should be slightly on the sweet side.  Adjust the flavor with a small amount of sugar if it is too sour or a splash of cider vinegar if the flavor is too sweet. 
     Step 8:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce the braising liquid, till nearly of the liquid evaporates and the sweet-sour sauce easily clings to the ingredients.  (Be sure to occasionally stir the ingredients to prevent browning!)  
     Step 9:  Remove the pan from the heat.  
     Let the Sweet-Sour Banana Squash and Cabbage cool to room temperature.
     Place the ingredients in a container and chill to 41ºF.  

     Bananenkürbis Krautstrudel:
     This recipe yields 1 medium size strudel that can be cut into 6 portions!
     Step 1:  Cut chilled sheet of puff pastry into a rectangle shape that measures 19" x 11".  
     Place the sheet of puff pastry dough on a parchment paper lined baking pan.
     Step 2:  Evenly mound the chilled Sweet-Sour Banana Squash & Cabbage lengthwise, across the center of the pastry sheet.  
     *The mound should be about 3" high, 4" wide and about 12" in length.  Leave about 3" of bare pastry on the sides and ends.  
     Step 3:  Whisk 1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water in a small container to make an egg wash.
     Lightly brush the exposed bare pastry edges with egg wash. 
     Step 4:  Pull the bare pastry sheet ends over each end of the stuffing mound.  (Try not to handle the dough too much.  Pastry dough can be stretched a little bit, but it should not be stretched thin.)
     Step 5:  Drape one side of the pastry sheet over the top of the stuffing.
     Drape the remaining pastry sheet edge over the stuffing, so it overlaps the other side.
     Step 6:  Carefully roll the strudel over on the parchment paper, so the seam side faces down.
     Brush the the strudel pastry with egg wash.
     Cut about 3 or 4 steam vent slashes on top of strudel.
     Step 7:  Place the pan in a 425ºF oven.
     Bake till the pastry puffs up and it is golden brown.  
     *The baking time will vary.  A large strudel can take more than 20 minutes to finish.
     *A large puff pastry like a strudel will shed quite a bit of butter onto the pan when the dough starts to brown.  Be sure to check the strudel after about 15 minutes.  Drain the excess butter off of the pan if necessary.  
     Step 8:  After the strudel finishes baking, place the pan on a cooling rack.  Let the strudel cool to a safe serving temperature. 

     A strudel should be served on a fancy dessert serving platter or a fancy wooden cutting board style platter.   
     A nice looking strudel needs very little garnishing.  The strudel platter in the photos was garnished with streaks of Dijon Mustard that was thinned with water and cilantro sprigs.
     Be sure to serve a small bowl of sour cream on the side!  

     Viola!  A nice tasting Bananenkürbis Krautstrudel for the Oktoberfest season!     

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pâte Feuilletée (French Puff Pastry Dough) and Blitz Puff Pastry Dough

     General Puff Pastry Information
     There are a few different methods for making puff pastry.  Some are easier to accomplish than others.  Some methods produce a better finished product than others.  All puff pastry making methods require patience.  Each step involves chilling the butter and dough.  The entire process requires plenty of waiting time, so patience is a virtue. 

     Puff Pastry Making Tips
     • The butter and dough must be cold (40ºF) when it is rolled out in each step.  
     • If the dough even comes close to room temperature (72ºF), work must stop and the dough must be chilled.  
     • If the dough reaches room temperature and it is rolled, the texture will end up being more like pie dough than puff pastry.  
     • The dough chilling process prevents the butter from combining with the dough.  
     • The goal is to create several very thin layers of butter and dough.
     • It is the steam from the layers of butter and water in the dough, that makes puff pastry dough rise and expand when it is baked.  
     • There are no leavening agents in the dough, other than butter and water. 
     • The dough must be covered with plastic wrap or sealed in a container every time it is chilled, in order to prevent drying. 

     Pâte Feuilletée (French Puff Pastry Dough):
     This entire recipe yields a little bit more than 2 1/2 pounds of French Puff Pastry Dough.
     *This recipe is written for a steel gear drive electric mixer.
     Authentic traditional French Puff Pastry really only involves a few more easy steps than Blitz Puff Pastry.  The difference in quality is noticeable.  The finished product is much more consistent, especially for making Vol Au Vent Pastries or any tall puff pastry shape.  The same routine of chilling the dough before rolling applies. 
     Here is an outline of the steps involved:  
     • The puff pastry dough is rolled out into a thin rectangular sheet.     
     • The thin sheet of dough will be used as a détrempe.  (The word "détrempe" basically means envelope!)  
     • A beurrage is chilled butter that is rolled into thin sheet.  
     • To start the puff pastry dough making process, the beurrage is placed on a portion of the pastry dough sheet.  Then the extra bare pastry dough sheet is folded over the beurrage.  The edges are pinched shut and the beurrage is then sealed in an envelope of pastry dough (détrempe).    
     • There are a few different ways to envelop the butter with a sheet of pastry dough.  All détrempe techniques work well and they all produce a nice finished product. 

     Détrempe Dough:
     Step 1:  Place 3 cups of Pastry Flour (fine cake flour) in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of Bread Flour.
     Add 2 teaspoons of fine ground Kosher Salt.
     Sift the ingredients, into the electric mixer bowl.
     Step 2:  Add 3 ounces of chilled unsalted butter that is cut into pea size pieces.
     Place a paddle attachment on the mixer.
     Set the electric mixer bowl in place.
     Pulse the mixer at a medium speed a few times, till the butter and flour just starts to combine.
     Stop the mixer.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of ice cold water.
     Start the mixer at a low speed.  
     Allow the ingredients to gradually start to combine.
     Turn the mixer up to a medium low speed.
     As soon as the dough starts to gather from the walls of the mixer, turn the mixer off.
     Step 4:  Lower the bowl and pinch the dough to check to see if it is too dry.  The dough should be fairly stiff yet pliable, with no cracking when pinched.  If the dough is too dry then add 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup more ice water.  (This step is necessary in an arid climate, like here in the Mojave Desert!)
     Step 5:  Mix the dough at a medium low speed till it combines and gathers on the dough hook.  
     Step 6:  Turn the dough out onto a flour dusted countertop.
     Shape the dough into a 1" thick rectangular shape.
     Cover the dough with plastic wrap.  
     Chill the dough to 40ºF. 
     Step 7:  Roll the chilled dough into a rectangular shape sheet that is 1/4" thick.
     Cover the dough sheet with plastic wrap and place it on a sheet pan.
     Chill the Détrempe Dough sheet to 40ºF.  

     • Measure the length and width of the rectangular pastry dough sheet and place it back in the refrigerator.  Write the length number and width number down.
     • Divide the length number in half and write it down.   This number plus the width number will be the dimensions of the Beurrage!   
     Step 1:  Cut an 11 ounce portion of chilled unsalted butter from a 1 pound block.
     Cut the 11 ounce butter block into 1/2" thick slices.
     Chill the butter slices to 40ºF. 
     Step 2:  Arrange the butter slices side by side on a sheet of plastic wrap (or a vinyl pastry mat), in a rectangular shape that is smaller than the Beurrage dimensions. 
     Place a second sheet of plastic wrap over the chilled butter slices.
     Step 3:  Use a rolling pin to roll the butter to almost the same size as the recorded width and length dimensions.    
     Place the plastic wrapped Beurrage on a sheet pan and chill the butter to 40º. 
     Making the Détrempe and the First Book Fold:
     • The dough sheet and butter sheet should be chilled to 40ºF before starting.
     Step 1:  Remove the top piece of plastic wrap from the chilled butter sheet (beurrage).
     Invert the cold butter sheet on one half of the Détrempe Dough sheet.  
     *Be sure to center the butter on one half of the dough sheet, so there is a small bare space around the edges of the dough.  If the butter breaks apart, just piece it in place on the dough sheet like a jigsaw puzzle!
     Step 2:  Lightly dampen the bare dough edge by brushing it with water.  This will seal the Détrempe around the Beurrage.
     Step 3:  Fold the bare half of the dough sheet over the butter half.
     Gently press the edges together, but do not distort the shape of the dough edge.
     Step 4:  The dough sheet is now book-folded with a total of 4 folds.  
     Fold one end of the sheet to the middle.  
     Fold the other end of the sheet, so it butts up against the first fold.  
     Repeat the book fold in the opposite direction to create a rectangular book folded thick block. 
     Step 5:  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill it to 40º. 

     Finishing the Pâte Feuilletée:
     Once again, the dough has to be chilled to 40ºF.
     Step 1:  Place the chilled folded dough and butter on a flour dusted countertop
     Roll the dough into a rectangular shaped sheet that is about 1/4" thick.  
     Step 2:  Book-fold the dough sheet with a total of 4 folds.  (Just like what was described in the previous recipe section.)  
     Step 3:  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill it to 40ºF.
     Step 4:  Repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 for a total of two more times.
     Step 5:  Finish the Pâte Feuilléte dough, by rolling it out to rectangular shape that is about 3/16" thick. 
     Step 6:  Cover the dough sheet with plastic and chill to 40ºF.
     Step 7:  If the puff pastry dough is not used immediately, then follow these steps for storing the dough: 
     • Slide the sheet of Pâte Feuilletée onto a sheet of parchment paper.
     • Cover the dough sheet with a second sheet of parchment paper.
     • Trim off most of the excess parchment paper edges.
     • Gently and carefully roll the parchment paper sandwich dough sheet, into a long cylinder shape.
     • Wrap the rolled dough cylinder with plastic wrap.  The puff pastry dough sheet can be refrigerated for up to 7 days. 

     Blitz Puff Pastry Method: 
     Blitz Puff Pastry is a shortcut method that produces a finished puff pastry dough that is suitable for wrapping items like Strudel or making a Wellington.  Blitz Puff Pastry is more like an extra flaky pie dough.  
     • The proportion of butter for Blitz Puff Pastry is 3/4 of what is needed for Pâte Feuilléte.  
     • The dough for Blitz is about the same as Pâte Feuilletée dough.
     • Blitz does not require enveloping a sheet of chilled butter with a sheet of dough.
     Step 1:  Blitz requires making the base Pâte Feuilléte Détrempe Dough first.  Follow the Détrempe Dough recipe on this page.  
     Step 2:  Chilled cubes of butter are added to the dough, with no kneading.  Just barely mix the dough and butter together.  (Refer to the amount of butter used to make the Beurrage Recipe on this page and measure 3/4 of that amount.  Cut the butter into 1/2" cubes.)
     Step 3:  Chill the Blitz Dough to 40ºF.
     Step 4:  The dough is rolled between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap or vinyl pastry making mats, into a rectangular shaped slab that is 1" thick.  
     Step 5:  The Blitz Dough slab is chilled to 40ºF.    
     Step 6:  The chilled slab of dough is rolled out on a flour dusted surface to create a sheet that is about 1/4" thick.  (Generously dust the countertop for this step.) 
     Step 7:  The dough sheet is book-folded with a total of 4 folds.  (Fold one end of the sheet to the middle.  Fold the other end of the sheet, so it butts up against the first fold.  Repeat the book fold in the opposite direction to create a rectangular thick block.) 
     Step 8:  The dough is chilled to 40º again.
     Step 9:  Repeat Step 5 through Step 8 for a total of 3 times.
     Step 10:  The finished dough is rolled out to rectangular shape that is about 3/16" thick.  The sheet of Blitz Puff Pastry Dough is then chilled, before being cut into shapes.

     Pâte Feuilletée Shapes:
     There are many puff pastry recipes in this website that require basic shapes like Vol Au Vent, Mini Wellingtons, stuffed savory pastries and puff pastry covered fish.  Croissants and dessert puff pastries can be made with this dough too.
     More puff pastry dough shapes, like Croissants and other recipes will be added to this website when the next batch of Pâte Feuilletée is made in the near future. 

     The puff pastry should be baked at 425ºF, till the pastry puffs up and is a golden brown color.  For large pastries or thick pastries, like strudel, the temperature should be lowered to 375ºF to prevent excess browning. 

     Today's Pâte Feuilletée recipe is an easy to follow descriptive recipe.  Puff Pastry made from scratch easily impresses guests!