And that is what this column is meant to be. A chance for you talented, experienced “Gene Autry in aprons cooks” to watch as this enthusiastic bumbling Pat Butram challenges the limits of his knowledge, skills and experiences. I will freely admit that many times when I begin a cooking project, I spend more time hunting techniques and possible alterations to a recipe than it takes to actually cook the meal. Wikipedia, YouTube and most of all, the more than 100 bloggers that I follow are teaching me to cook. And so, the Gene Autry’s of this site are giving me a day a week to pick out a recipe from a fellow blogger and see if my enthusiasm and research skills will get me beyond my limited cooking skills and basic knowledge.
I always wonder why people blog. I suspect that there are a few of you who secretly hope to be discovered ala
Julie Powell, or Ree Drumand
, the Pioneer Woman
. While I admire every blogger willing to “hang it out there” for all the world to see and judge, honestly, I only see a few truly ready to make the leap from self published bloggers
to someone the world would pay to read. For whatever my opinion is worth, I feel that Mary
from ONE PERFECT BITE
has in all but name only, made that jump to professional quality writing. Daily, I feel I am reading a page from her book more than a posting in a blog. She gives tested and proven recipe content, as well as back stories and histories to the ingredients or finished menu item. She is also a very generous “Gene Autry
in an apron”. When I first saw her posting about Puff Pastry (click HERE
to see that post), I had several questions which she took time from her life to answer. She went out of her way to give my “Pat Butram
bungling” a chance to have a successful cook session.
Here is what Mary said to do…
Puff Pastry Pillow with Creamy Blue Cheese Filling…from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
Ingredients: Thick Cream Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (14-oz.) package thawed puff pastry sheets
8-oz. blue or Roquefort cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup thick cream sauce
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2) To make cream sauce, melt butter over low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Blend in flour and cook slowly, until butter and flour cook together for 2 minutes without turning color. Whisk in milk; blend until smooth. Cook, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3) To make pastry case, lightly sprinkle work surface with flour. Roll one sheet of pastry to a rectangle that is 1/16-inch thick. Sprinkle cold water on a cookie sheet. Tap off excess. Transfer dough to cookie sheet. Roll out second sheet of dough. Let sit, covered, until needed. Prick center of dough at 1/4-inch intervals with a fork to keep dough flat while baking. Spread crumbled cheese down center of dough strip, leaving a 1-inch margin on all sides. Cover with cream sauce. Fold margins of dough up over filling on all four sides. Brush all margins with water. Cover with second strip of dough, trimming as required, and seal layers together, pressing firmly with fingers. Brush with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees F and bake 30 minutes longer. Serve hot. Yield: 6 servings.
And, here’s what I did…
One note, if you are not used to my blog, you will notice that I probably show more photos than any other blogger. When I do a post, I always assume I am talking to someone that knows even less than I do. Even though I use 998 words, I still think that those extra words that a photo is worth is needed… for those worse off than me.
As always, I assemble my ingredients. I have learned from bitter experience that if I do not do this, I will miss a dash of this or a pinch of that. By having everything in one spot, as I use the ingredients I return them to the pantry or fridge. If I am sliding the meal into the oven and I notice that there is still salt at the prep area, I know that it is left out. More than once, this habit has saved a dish from being less than the recipe.
I did alter Mary’s ingredient list just a bit. I used buttermilk instead of whole milk. No other reason than I like it, I have had very good results from substituting Buttermilk, and finally, I had just enough to use up and not have to pour it down the drain in a few days when it is beyond it’s expiration date.
I also cut the recipe in half. Life is good, but it is just my wife and I at home. No need to make a dish for six when a half portion would work.
Next, I got to use a skill I gained at cooking school when I recently vacationed in New Orleans…
“First you make a roux” is a pretty common expression when you make a Cajun dish. While this is certainly NOT Cajun, it is French cooking, which influenced Cajun cooking, which is why making a roux was explained to me when I was in “the Big Easy”. A roux is a pretty fancy cooking term for butter and flour.
It is still VERY exciting to me to whisk together the fat and flour, and slowly get that color change and the air fills with that nutty aroma. But in this case, Mary wanted a very light roux, so after two minutes, I added the buttermilk.
It didn’t take long at all for the roux to thicken up. Mary said to let the mixture come to a boil. Mine never did boil. I just didn’t have the confidence to let it get that hot, and risk burning the goo. If you double click the image to the left, the magic of the Internet will show that this had the consistency of thin icing. I was happy with the texture of the goo and when I dabbed a finger in, the taste was exactly right. So, I removed it from the heat and went to work on the puff pastry…
Merry Christmas to me…
My wife bought me a pastry rolling pin for Christmas. Prior to December 25th, I used a bottle of wine to roll out dough. I also got some tiny cookie cutters in the shape of Noah’s ark and animals.
I rolled out just one sheet of the puff pastry. I rolled it out, increasing the size, breaking in my new rolling pin… whoo whoo! I love using new toys!
And next I was ready to do a little cutting.
I made a set of the Noah’s Ark figures, and trimmed the remaining sheet to square the edges and cut that in half. Actually, I cut about 55%/45%. I wanted one sheet a little bigger than the other.
Next up is the layering…
I set out the smaller of the two sheets. I added a layer of crumbled blue cheese, leaving an inch all around the edges empty. The thick cream sauce was indeed very thick by this time. It was solid enough to plop onto the cheese, and it stayed in place as I folded the edges up to form a box.
Sorry I don’t have a picture of the cream sauce on top of the blue cheese, but I was working fast before it started oozing where I didn’t want it to be…
Next, I added the other half of the pastry. I brushed the edges with some of the egg, and folded the edges underneath the original pastry sheet.
I generously painted the sheet with the egg wash, and added some bling decoration in the form of wavy lines to look like ocean and the boat and a couple animals.
I also painted these figures with the egg.
I followed the cooking directions to a tea… and here is what I made…
I would like to say that this is exactly the way it came out of the oven…
My pastry had split at the top. But, as Julia Child says, “When you are alone in the kitchen, you can just reassemble and… Who’s to know?”
So, before I showed it to my wife, I scooped out just a bit of the goo, and shoved the pastry back together, and sure enough…
It looked just fine! Who’s to know???
When I served it, I cut along the split and it worked just fine… Next time, when I lower the temperature in the oven, I will add a few strategically placed slit marks to relieve some of the pressure.
I was thrilled! It looked great! And it tasted just as good as it sounds! The pastry was crispy and the goo was perfect. This was my first dish using puff pastry, and it was not perfect. But I learned quite a bit about puffed pastry and thick cream sauce. I will be able to expand on the knowledge I gained, and make the same dish better next time, or alter ingredients and techniques to make it my own recipe.
And HEY… I CAN COOK THIS!!!
So, that’s me in a nutshell. If you liked my writing style and blogging “feel”, click HERE
and come see my regular blog, MY YEAR ON THE GRILL
. I post fresh content daily. I only post recipes that i have actually made, and I think you will have a good time if you take the time to read me.
If you want to see what I think is among the best blogs on the internet, click HERE to get to ONE PERFECT BITE and say Hi to Mary for me.
Thanks Mary, my very first “Gene Autry in an apron”