Well. July was a busy month! Good weather finally struck the Olympic Peninsula. I started a new business with all the learning curves and paperwork that goes along with it (totally unrelated to crafts/kitchens/blogs, so I’ll spare you the details here) and I was out of town about half the month (working in California, then visiting family and friends in the midwest). Now I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, and that includes catching you up on what I’ve been doing around here.
One perfectly puffed corner of a delicious, salty tart
The most exciting news I have is that last week I learned how to make puff pastry. I had been so intimidated by the beautiful layers of perfectly flaky, crispy pastry I’m used to at bakeries, and I’m glad I finally pushed past the intimidation. Puff pastry is a little challenging, but mostly it just takes time and patience and a little upper body strength. I’m thrilled with the result — once with a savory topping, the second time with a sweet filling.
Last week I put on the menu an onion, olive and anchovy tart from one of my favorite cookbooks, Off The Shelf. It calls for 12oz of frozen puff pastry, but our food co-op was sold out, so I decided to make my own. I’m so glad I did. I was planning to make it for dinner Thursday, and we ended up going to a potluck that night, so I made it for the potluck instead — it was devoured in no time, which was a big ego-boost, but also says a lot about the quality of the recipes in this cookbook.
5 C. flour
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 C. water
2 C. butter
Place the butter between two sheets of plastic wrap and press it down into a thin cylinder — about 1/2″ thick. Place in fridge and chill for at least 20 minutes.
Mix the flour and salt, and add water until it forms a ball of dough that can clean the bowl. Shape into a ball and let rest 10 minutes.
Next, the only tricky part: the “turns,” the rolling out + folding up part. The most important part of this is to keep the butter chilled. Delicate layers of pastry form when pieces of butter melt and release gasses during baking, so if the butter is warm and completely blended into the flour, it won’t rise as well. On the other hand, if the butter is too cold, the dough will be super hard to roll out. It helps to chill the surface you’ll roll out onto (I placed ice packs on my marble countertop) and I also placed my marble rolling pin in the freezer, which seemed to work well.
A slab of chilled butter and a slab of dough, about to become one
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Place the disc of chilled butter in the center and fold the dough over it so that the single layer of butter is completely encased in dough. Roll out the dough again, taking care not to let the butter break through the dough, to about 1/2 inch thickness. Fold into thirds. This is the first ”turn”.
Rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll out into a rectangle again. Fold into thirds. That’s your second “turn,” and you’ll want five or six turns altogether. To keep the butter chilled, refrigerate the dough between every turn or two for 20-30 minutes.
After five or six turns, you can either use the dough immediately or refrigerate it for use within the next couple of days.
Onion, Black Olive & Anchovy Tart (from Donna Hay’s book, Off The Shelf)
1 batch puff pastry dough (or one 12 oz package of store-bought frozen dough, if you don’t have the time)
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 C. parmesan, grated
2 tins of anchovies
Oregano (the recipe calls for fresh, which sounds great — I only had dried, so I used that)
1/4 C. black olives
More than enough anchovies, olives and parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Chop five onions and sautee them in olive oil over medium-high heat about 10 minutes. Add 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbs. brown sugar, and cook another two minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Roll out the pastry dough into a large rectangle. Place on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan. (I used and 11″x17″ pan.)
Leaving a 1″ margin around the edge, top the pastry with the parmesan, then the onions, then anchovies & olives & oregano.
Bake the tart for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden brown along the edges.
Ready to be devoured!
So that was Thursday. Stay tuned later this week for what happened Friday. OK, I’ll just give it away: mini raspberry turnovers. YES.