Sunday, November 14, 2010

Adventures in Puff Pastry

I had my girlfriends over for dinner and lots of wine drinking on Friday night and decided to experiment with puff pastry. My mom raves about the stuff and told me that Trader Joe's only stocks it this time of year, so I figured I should finally give it a try.

I decided to make an appetizer with it, and since my main course was veggie lasagna, I knew it had to be 'Italian-ish'. I want to start using eggplant more and happened to have fresh basil lying around, this was how I created Eggplant Puff Pastry Crisps. The dish was a hit! I think I'll make it and variations of it again over the holidays! Check out my recipe below,

1 package frozen puff pastry
1 eggplant
1/2 cup white wine (any kind you like)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
approx 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp butter + more to taste :)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
4-6 fresh basil leaves (julienned)

Cut eggplant into dime sized pieces.
Simmer wine, butter and minced garlic in a large skillet on medium for 5 minutes. Add thyme and chopped eggplant and let cook until all the wine evaporates and eggplant begins to brown. Add another tbsp butter to the pan and let eggplant cook up to 10 minutes or until it's caramelized. Remove from pan and let cool.

Defrost puff pastry and cut into playing card sized rectangles. Follow baking directions on puff pastry package. Remove puff pastry 1/2 way through the baking process and sprinkle each rectangle with 1 Tbsp of cheese and 2 Tbsp of eggplant mixture. Put baking sheet back in the over and allow puff pastry to finish cooking.

When pastry is golden brown remove from oven and sprinkle with julienned basil.

Serve warm.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chicken crepes

Late Saturday afternoon I thought that I might just make chicken crepes for dinner; I hadn't made them in years and they are fabulous.  As I often do on the weekend I puttered my time away working on photos and doing a bit of this and that until it was 5:30.  That didn't give me much time to make crepes; but I headed down to the kitchen and dug in.  I really felt like having crepes so they were done in speed mode but turned out just as yummy.

The actual crepe part is very easy to do; much like pancakes that just don't rise.  There are a couple of things to remember;

1.  You cannot leave the pan while cooking crepes, it happens very quickly.
2.  You must put either waxed paper or parchment between each crepe as they come out of the pan.  Otherwise you'll be left with a big mound of stuck crepes.

The longest part of these crepes is the chicken and mushrooms that need cooking.  Once the filling is cooked up it is nothing to put them together and pop them into the oven.  The smell of them cooking is heavenly.

I got this recipe over 30 years ago in High School; we made them in Home Ec class.  And each time I make them I think back to the wonderful teacher I had that year; she was very inspirational and a wonderful woman, Mrs. Bewley.

1 c. sifted all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten well
1 1/4 c. milk
2 tbsp melted butter

Mix flour and salt together, mix eggs, milk and butter together.  Use electric mixer or whisk and mix together until smooth.  Best made an hour ahead of cooking or overnight.

Pour about 3 tbsp. of batter into a hot well oiled pan.  Immediately rotate pan so that the batter covers the entire bottom.  Crepe should be as thin as possible.  As soon as the edges brown; flip over.  Let brown slightly and remove and place parchment or waxed paper between each.  Set aside for filling later.

Filling Chicken Crepes

1/2 C butter
1/2 flour
1 1/2 half and half
1 cup well seasoned chicken broth
salt and pepper
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 C cooked mushrooms chopped
2 tbsp dry sherry (or more)  ;)
1/2 C. sour cream

Make a roux with the butter and flour; add cream, broth and salt and pepper to make a nice cream sauce.  Divide sauce in half; to one half add chicken, Sherry and mushrooms for filling.   In the second half add sour cream for sauce on top.  Roll crepes with about 1 -2 tbsp of chicken mixture and place into baking dish seam down.  After complete; cover with sour cream sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan reggiano and chives.  Bake at 350 for about 20 min, until hot.  Makes 4-6 servings.  Yum.