Category Archives: Pastry

Friday Favorites: Game Day II

Friday Favorites: Game DayI have made it clear over the years that I am a baseball and Olympics person, and very definitely not a football fan. Oh, I’ve tried. I grew up in Texas and was the co-captain of my high school dance team, so I attended 40+ games from the sidelines, and I never missed a Super Bowl for the first 22 years of my life. I can say with confidence that football is not for me.

That said, I most certainly like football food. In fact, today’s list of Super Bowl Sunday recipes is the second Game Day round-up I’ve compiled in the last five years. There are some of the usual meaty, cheesy, gooey suspects, and a couple of non-traditional options. You know, for keeping things interesting between commercial breaks.

I sincerely hope none of you are gathering for Super Bowl parties next weekend—I would like to be able to see my family sometime this year, okay?—but for all the things that will be different/less good about the big game, let’s not let the food be one of them.Friday Favorites: Game DayPuff Pastry Pigs in Blankets

Pigs in blankets are a classic football food. Here they’re wrapped in puff pastry (rough puff or frozen/thawed puff) and baked until super flaky and golden. Yum.Friday Favorites: Game DayPimento Cheese Tarte Soleil

You could just make Pimento Cheese for game day, but why pass up the chance to stack it with flaky pastry, twist it to sunny perfection and bake until bubbly?Friday Favorites: Game DayCreamy Avocado Salsa

Is it even game day if chips and salsa aren’t on the table? This Creamy Avocado Salsa has all the flavors of classic guacamole, but with a smooth and dreamy texture. Serve it by its lonesome or… Friday Favorites: Game DaySpicy Turkey Tacos

…drizzle it onto these Spicy Turkey Tacos! This thirty minute main is one of my go-to weeknight recipes. It’s easy, saucy and has a good kick to it from a DIY taco seasoning. If heat isn’t your thing, don’t fret; I’ve included a way to make these milder without sacrificing any flavor.Friday Favorites: Game DaySlow-Roasted Pulled Pork

Say goodbye to your favorite slow cooker pulled pork because once you try this, you’ll never want to go back. My Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork does require a little forethought, but it’s actually very simple to make. It’s dry brined ahead of time and then roasted low and slow until super tender. Pile it high on soft rolls with whatever sauce and crunchy vegetables you like, or use it as filling for enchiladas!

Oh, and did I mention there are crispy cracklings strewn throughout? Because there are crispy cracklings strewn throughout. So good, y’all.Friday Favorites: Game DayButternut Squash Chili {Vegan}

If meat’s not your thing, this vegan Butternut Squash Chili is a perfect option for you! It’s hearty and comforting and basically everything wonderful about game day food, just without the animal products.Friday Favorites: Game DaySuper Sprinkle Popcorn

I find that dessert is frequently overlooked on Super Bowl Sunday, and to that I say “not in my house!” Super Sprinkle Popcorn would also be a perfect way to end the big game. Coated in white chocolate and loaded with rainbow sprinkles and homemade Funfetti crumbs, this stuff is cute and delicious as all get out!Friday Favorites: Game DayMonster Carmelitas

I think this goes without saying, but no matter how much heavy food I’ve eaten during the game, I will always—always—have room for a gooey, peanut buttery Monster Carmelita.

Have you made any of these or any of my other game day favorites? What’s your favorite thing to serve on Super Bowl Sunday? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Friday Favorites: Game Day

Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists

Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsI never know what to post during Thanksgiving week. I assume your menus are set and that you’ve already shopped and everything—I mean, mine is and I have. Still, I always like to leave you with one last recipe before the holiday.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsIn years past, it’s been cheese-related, but this year, I’m going straight for dessert. I know I will be making a pie (or two) in the upcoming days, and maybe you are planning to as well, but also…? You might be a little burnt out and not particularly feeling like going through the trouble of making a whole pie for a very small Thanksgiving gathering, even though you’ve already made a bunch of pie dough.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsWell, my friends, that’s where Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists come in. Where you’d normally roll out your pie crust, fit it in a pie plate, fill it, chill it several times and finally bake, this recipe takes super buttery pie dough and transforms it into a flaky cinnamon-scented dessert that you can make with minimal ingredients and tuck into in under an hour. It’s the dream.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon TwistsStart by rolling out your disk of pie dough (this is my All-Butter Pie Dough) into a 12-inch square(-ish shape). Brush the whole thing with melted butter, then scatter cinnamon-sugar on the center 4×12-inch section.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsFold one of the outer thirds over the cinnamon-sugar, then brush on more butter and sprinkle on more cinnamon-sugar. Fold the last blank third of dough over (like a letter) and then refrigerate for 20 or so minutes while the oven preheats. Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon TwistsOnce the oven hits 375F, slice your dough into strips, brush with more melted butter, and twist them do that you can see the two layers of cinnamon swirling all the way down the length of the twists. Yum!Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsAfter that, bake for 22 minutes or so until your kitchen smells like butter and cinnamon and everything else that’s good in this universe. Then wait just long enough so that you don’t burn your mouth before digging in, with ice cream if you are better-prepared than I am.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsI know I am not the first person to write a recipe for Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists, and I won’t be the last either. Some people just spread the cinnamon-sugar right on and skip all the folding and whatnot, but in my experience, this extra care results in a triple-layer twist that is favorably compared to churros. Churros! I don’t know about you, but the one thing my Thanksgiving menu is missing is a flaky, churro-esque finish.Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists

Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists
makes about 1.5 dozen twists

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 recipe All-Butter Pie Dough, or other good single crust pie dough recipe
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar and cinnamon.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Roll pie dough out to a 12-inch square. Paint a thin layer of melted butter onto the dough.

Mentally divide the dough into thirds (perhaps with the help of a ruler), 4×12 inches each. Scatter half the cinnamon-sugar over the central third. Fold one of the outer thirds over the center to cover the cinnamon-sugar, then paint melted butter on top. Fold the remaining third so that it covers the cinnamon-sugar. Use your rolling pin to tamp down the ends so you don’t lose filling, then roll the whole thing so it’s about 6-inches wide. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment.

Flour a surface and a large, sharp chef’s knife. Unwrap the folded dough and brush the top with butter. Slice it into 3/4-inch strips. Twist each one a few times and place 2 inches apart on prepared sheet pans (I like about 10 per pan). Bake 21-23 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Let cool a few minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for a few days.

Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon Twists

Pimento Cheese Tarte Soleil

Hello from the recent past! I’m writing this post ahead of Election Day, so I have no idea what fresh hell is going on in this country upon publishing, nor am I going to address it. This blog has no political views of its own, but you can guess which side I’m on.Pimento Cheese Tarte SoleilI had a very difficult time deciding what to post today. The election has zapped any creative energy I had left, and just…what do I want to talk about post-Election Day? Do I go straight into pie? Thanksgiving sides? Not post a recipe and tell everyone to make one big cookie everyday until we know the actual results? Disappear without a trace for two months and re-emerge only after January 20th of next year? They all seem like good options.Pimento Cheese Tarte SoleilInstead though, I’m going with Pimento Cheese: straight-up cheesy, spicy, sweet, tangy, mayo-bound southern comfort food. While it’s normally served with crackers or celery or on a sandwich, today I’m wrapping it up in two circles of puff pastry, slicing and twisting it so it looks like the sun (“soleil”), and baking until good and flaky with multiple textures of melted cheese. Yesssss.Pimento Cheese Tarte SoleilWhile Pimento Cheese Tarte Soleil sounds fancy, it’s really quite simple, as most things made with puff pastry are. As usual, I went with easy from-scratch rough puff pastry here, but the frozen stuff works too. If you’re going the rough puff route, I find it much easier to make the two sheets separately than I do to make one big one and divide it.Pimento Cheese Tarte Soleil No matter which dough you use, roll your sheets out about as big as you can (mine were 12×14”) and cut out two 12-inch circles. Top one with a batch of homemade pimento cheese, then seal the edges together with a swipe of water.Pimento Cheese Tarte SoleilPimento Cheese Tarte SoleilPimento Cheese Tarte SoleilNext up, create the soleil (sun shape). Place a 2.5-3 inch cutter or vessel in the center of your pastry circles, then use a sharp chef’s knife to slice the edges into sixteen rays. Twist them up for beauty reasons, then brush the whole tarte with egg wash and bake until golden all over.Pimento Cheese Tarte Soleil
When I started working on this recipe, I had some concern that I’d open the oven after 35 minutes to find pimento cheese melted and burnt everywhere, but those fears were unfounded. The pimento cheese gets bubbly on top, gooey in the center, and a little crisp on the bottom.Pimento Cheese Tarte SoleilThis tarte, y’all. This. Tarte. I love that it’s both low brow and high brow–“Pull-aparts, but make it fashion.” It’s a guaranteed showstopper, and one of those things that’s good warm or at room temperature (or cold, honestly), as most flaky, cheesy things are. I had zero trouble putting away a quarter of it after this little photoshoot.Pimento Cheese Tarte SoleilPimento Cheese Tarte SoleilI usually post something to be a part of a Thanksgiving cheese plate, but this fancy finger food? It *is* the cheese plate. No need for crackers or bread or anything else, except maybe a sliced apple and a glass of something festive. And since Thanksgiving is but once a year, know that this would also be welcome in a game day spread. Heck, you could even just make one, slice up some raw vegetables and call it dinner any old time. Basically, it’s appropriate for any pimento cheese and puff pastry-eating occasion, including eating your feelings while waiting for things to sort themselves out, which is the exact route I will be taking.Pimento Cheese Tarte Soleil

Pimento Cheese Tarte Soleil
makes one tarte

Rough Puff Pastry (makes 2 sheets):
2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, divided
10 ounces (20 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces, divided
1/2 cup water or milk, very cold, divided

Pimento Cheese:
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 4 ounce jar pimientos or roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Egg wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

If you do not wish to make the Rough Puff Pastry, you may use two sheets of frozen all-butter puff pastry that you have thawed according to package directions. Begin the recipe at “Make the pimento cheese.”

Make the first sheet of rough puff pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in 1/4 cup of cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the second sheet of rough puff pastry. Repeat the mixing, rolling, folding and chilling process with remaining 1 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) butter, and 1/4 cup cold water and milk.

Make the pimento cheese. Grate the cheese on the large-holed side of a box grater. Transfer to a small mixing bowl.

Drain the pimientos and blot with paper towels. Mince pimentos and transfer to the mixing bowl. Add black pepper and mayonnaise. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold it all together—it will seem dry, but should hold together.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed half-sheet pan with parchment.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold one sheet of dough. Roll out to at least 12×14-inch rectangle, or a bit larger. Place a 12 inch round item (I used the lip of a large mixing bowl) on top. Use a thin, flexible knife to cut out a circle. Refrigerate. Repeat rolling and cutting process with the second sheet of dough.

Place one circle of dough on prepared pan. Drop spoonfuls of pimento cheese over the dough and spread to cover, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all the way around. Dab or brush some water along exposed dough, then place the second circle of dough over the top. Press edges together all the way around.

Place a light 2.5-3-inch object on the center of your tart (I used a biscuit cutter). Leaving the area covered by the object alone, use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the pastry into quarters, then eighths, then sixteenths. Remove the round object to see that your tart looks like a sun.

Taking one “ray” (strip of dough) at a time, gently twist it a few times. Repeat with all “rays.” If the dough becomes soft or sticky at any point in the assembly process, refrigerate the entire tart for 15 minutes.

Make egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Use a pastry brush to paint egg wash over the entire tarte.

Bake tarte for 35-40 minutes, until completely golden. Let cool 10 minutes before carefully removing to a serving plate.

Serve immediately. This tarte is best warm or room temperature, but leftovers may be wrapped tightly with foil and stored in the refrigerator for a day or two. Reheat in the oven for best results.Pimento Cheese Tarte SoleilPimento Cheese Tarte Soleil

Apple Turnovers

Apple TurnoversFull disclosure: I’m not posting any new Halloween recipes this year, but I did update my Candy Corn Cupcakes, so that’s something. Right? I don’t know. I’m just not a Halloween gal. I can’t help it. I did purchase some sparkly cat ears, but I’ve mentally moved on to November.Apple TurnoversI spent one morning last week loading my freezer with pie dough because—can you believe it—it’s almost time to talk about Thanksgiving food. Almost. Not yet. Don’t worry, I’m going to let Halloween happen before we discuss pie (!) and side dishes (!!!) and everything that goes with a teeny Thanksgiving fit for a pandemic (?????).Apple TurnoversAgain though—not yet. Not today, not Friday. But also, if you made these Apple Turnovers a part of your Thanksgiving dessert spread, I don’t think you’d have any complaints. Flaky pastry folded around perfectly-spiced apple filling? Oh hell yes. Pass ‘em my way, please.Apple TurnoversApple TurnoversBut why wait til Thanksgiving when you can have apple turnovers today? Or this weekend? Or on election night? I always like to have a cooking or baking project on election night to keep myself from spiraling, and that goes double this year. I pickled carrots in 2012 and made chili in 2016. Is 2020 the apple turnover election night? Maybe so.Apple TurnoversApple TurnoversI make turnovers approximately once every four years, which is ridiculous because they are incredibly simple. Truly, they’re hardly a recipe—just put some filling on a square of puff pastry, fold it over (ahem, “turn it over”) into a triangle, bake until brown, and then drizzle on a glaze. Whether you use homemade rough puff pastry or the thawed frozen stuff, these are one of the easiest homemade pastries out there, y’all.Apple TurnoversOh, and they’re so delicious—crisp, buttery, flaky and chock-full of apple filling. They’re a comfort pastry if I’ve ever had one. Is that a thing? Comfort pastries? It should be a thing. Let’s make it a thing.Apple Turnovers

Apple Turnovers
makes 6 turnovers

Apple Filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large baking apples, 1/4-inch diced
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cornstarch (or flour)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Glaze:
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of salt
2-3 teaspoons milk

Apple Filling and Rough Puff Pastry may be made a day in advance. Keep both tightly wrapped in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make the Apple Filling. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add butter and swirl to melt. Add apples and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not mushy (about 8-10 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Stir in apple cider vinegar. Remove from heat and let filling cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment.

Make egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Slice into 6 squares.

Working with one square at a time, roll it into a 5-inch square. Place 2 slightly-heaping tablespoons of apple filling in the center. Paint two intersecting edges of each turnover with egg wash. Fold dough into half to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edge. Remove to prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough and filling, chilling for 15 minutes if dough becomes sticky or difficult with which to work.

Chill pan of turnovers for 10 minutes. Cut vents in each turnover. Brush all exposed pastry with egg wash. Bake 25-27 minutes or until golden. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioner’s sugar, salt and 2 teaspoons milk. Add more milk by the 1/2 teaspoon until the desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over cooled turnovers. Glaze should set after 20 minutes.

Turnovers are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Pastry will soften over time.

Note:

If you do not wish to make the Rough Puff Pastry, you may use one sheet of frozen all-butter puff pastry that you have thawed according to package directions.Apple TurnoversApple TurnoversApple Turnovers

Strawberry Rhubarb Kolaches

Strawberry Rhubarb KolachesAnother kolache recipe? You better believe it.Strawberry Rhubarb KolachesIf you know the magic that is a warm, fresh kolache from the Czech Stop in West, Texas, (the town, not the region) you know why I keep making them in my own kitchen here in NYC.Strawberry Rhubarb KolachesStrawberry Rhubarb KolachesStrawberry Rhubarb KolachesThey’re super soft and tender and filled with anything from prunes to pecans and they’re just as Texan as they are Czech. Well, *almost* as Texan as they are Czech, kind of like me. I’m a Czech Texan…Czechxan?Strawberry Rhubarb KolachesStrawberry Rhubarb KolachesMaybe it’s because my birthday is next week or because I keep waking up in this alternate reality where I may not get to see my family for a while or because I haven’t driven the expanse of I-35 between Fort Worth and Austin in a few years, but these Strawberry Rhubarb Kolaches are filling a Texas-shaped hole in my soul.Strawberry Rhubarb KolachesNowadays you can get your kolache fix all over the state of Texas and in many other places including Brooklyn, New York, and yet here I am kneading up sour cream dough and simmering fillings late at night and cutting pastries in the morning. Why? Because nothing—nothing—beats the smell of fresh kolaches baking in your own kitchen.Strawberry Rhubarb KolachesOh, and the flavor! Soft, rich, buttery pastry with a warm puddle of filling right in the middle—they’re heaven. This Strawberry Rhubarb situation is particularly good. Tangy with hits of lime and ginger, it’s the perfect foil to the sweet pastry and posypka (crumble).

They won’t solve all your problems, but they may very well cure what ails you. You know, if what ails you is a a little homesickness for Texas or a late-spring kolache deficiency.Strawberry Rhubarb Kolaches

Strawberry Rhubarb Kolaches
makes about 16-18 pastries

1/2 cup (1 stick) + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lime zest (from 1 medium lime)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature

Strawberry Rhubarb Filling:
1 cup 1/2-inch diced fresh strawberries (about 8 ounces)
1 cup 1/2-inch diced rhubarb (about 1 1/2-2 trimmed stalks)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Posypka (Crumble):
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

The night before you want to eat kolaches, make the dough. Cut 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter into 8 pieces.Combine butter, whole milk, and sour cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt together, stirring occasionally, until mixture is warm to the touch (about 115F). Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to prove for 5 minutes. Mixture will have just a few small bubbles.

Add 1 cup of the flour, the lime zest, and salt to the wet ingredients. Fold together. Fold in beaten eggs, followed by 2 1/4 more cups of flour. Dough will be very soft and a bit sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes before forming into a ball. Dough will be very soft and sticky—use a bench scraper for easiest kneading. Grease a mixing bowl with oil. Place dough ball in the bowl, being sure to grease it on all sides. Press plastic wrap to the surface of the dough. Refrigerate overnight, about 8-12 hours.

Make the strawberry rhubarb filling. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 12-15 minutes, or until rhubarb softens. Cool and transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove dough from refrigerator and discard plastic wrap. Into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut kolaches, rerolling as necessary. Place 3 inches apart on prepared pans.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Brush on the tops of cut kolache dough. Flour the back of a tablespoon and press it into the center of one kolache to make a well. Immediately fill with 2 teaspoons of strawberry rhubarb filling. Flour the tablespoon again and repeat process with all remaining kolaches on the baking pan. Repeat process with remaining baking sheet.

Loosely cover with plastic wrap (or greased foil) and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes, or until puffy.

Make the posypka (crumble). Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a fork until crumbly.

Position oven racks near the center. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Remove plastic wrap from one baking sheet of dough. Top each kolache with a big pinch of posypka. Bake kolaches uncovered for 18-20 minutes, rotating pans front to back at the 10 minute mark. They will be barely-golden when they are done. Brush baked kolaches with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Let kolaches cool slightly on the pans. Serve warm.

Kolaches are best the day they are made, but may be refrigerated for a couple of days. Warm before serving.Strawberry Rhubarb KolachesStrawberry Rhubarb KolachesStrawberry Rhubarb Kolaches