Puff pastry

This baking done was out of  hunger and procrastination (I am very good at that). I had store bought puff pastry in my freezer because I attempted to make napoleons (mille-feuille) once, that was an arduous task, and if I ever made it again I would use it. But instead of making napoleons I made an Asparagus and dill quiche and apple galette since the package came with two puff pastry sheets. When I unfolded the puff pastries I felt that it was not big enough to use, therefore I rolled it out a bit.
As I was baking I listened to Michael Bublé’s new album, To be loved,  to calm my brain down from all the studying. It’s a great album and I love his music.

Asparagus and dill quiche.
Adapted from not derby pie
In the original recipe, a rectangular tart pan is used but I have a circular one and I felt that it’s not much of a tart but more of a quiche since it has cheese, milk and eggs.
Also, I did not have buttermilk so I decided to make my own, which is the yellow/white mixture in the bowl.  That was not a good idea, I knew it too but I still had to try it, because after you bake it all those lumpy bits, which you see in one photo, melts into a big puddle of butter atop the quiche. I had to use coffee filters to soak up all that butter. Well I learned my lesson, buy buttermilk or use the milk you have already.
Another store bought product, as you can tell, is frozen asparagus. No need to boil it just defrost it and use it.
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The weird buttermilk mixture I attempted to make.
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the lumpy butter bits.
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After I soaked out all the butter.

1 bunch of asparagus (about 12 spears)
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs
4 or 5 bunches of dill (more if desired), chopped
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Roll the dough into an 11-inch disk (for a 9-inch round pan) or a 16″ x 6″ rectangle (for a rectangular pan) and fit it carefully into the pan, leaving the overhang in place for now. Prick the dough with a fork, then stick in the fridge for half an hour or so to rest (this ensures that the dough won’t shrink when baked. The overhang helps with this, too; I cut it off after the tart was done.) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to  400°F. Put crust on a flat baking sheet and blind bake the crust for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Leave the tart on the baking sheet.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then drop in asparagus and cook just until tender, about 5 minutes. (Slater says longer, but I can’t bare to overcook a batch of perfect ‘gus.) Remove the asparagus and set aside.

Combine eggs and milk in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the tarragon to the cream mixture along with a pinch or two of salt and pepper.

Lay the asparagus in the tart crust. (Slater recommends you cut them into shorter lengths, but I think the full spears look elegant in the finished tart.) Pour the cream mixture over the asparagus, taking care to fill in the tart evenly. Transfer the tart, on its baking sheet, into the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the filling is golden and quivers only slightly when moved. Serve warm.

Apple galette.
adapted from Williams-Sonoma
I was going to try to make this out of memory from the apple pies I’ve made but I thought I better refer to a recipe just to make sure.
I did not want to save the puff pastry for another time, besides I had extra apples that I cut up from the French apple tart.
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2 lb. apples, such as Granny Smith or Jonagold,
peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch

To make the filling, in a large bowl, stir together the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch. Set aside.

Roll the puff pastry to a bit to accommodate the amount of apples you will be putting in. About 12-inch round. Brush off the excess flour. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Arrange the apple filling in the center of the dough, mounding the fruit slightly and leaving a 2-inch border. Gently fold the edges of the dough over the apples, pleating loosely. Lightly sprinkle sugar over the apples.

Bake until the crust is golden and the apples are tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the galette cool completely, about 1 hour.

Enjoy!

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Baked pasta & Asparagus

What a beautiful day! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, flowers are blooming and the smell of fresh cut grass is in the air! This makes me want to listen to really upbeat pop music such as One Direction, yes that’s right I like their music!
asparagus
The asparagus dish came to me because I was hungry and digging through my fridge.  Took a short cut and used frozen asparagus, microwaved it for 3 minutes then crumbled feta cheese and drizzled on some Persian lime olive oil. (My friend Nicole introduced me to this olive oil. If you have never tried Persian lime olive oil, you are missing out, it tastes and smells delicious)

On to the main dish Baked pasta! I found this recipe in a foodnetwork magazine featuring Italian food. It’s quite simple and fast to make, also the ingredients can be swapped with almost anything. When I make this I put in all vegetables, one pound each of zucchini and frozen spinach. As for cheese I play around and put in whatever cheese I have on hand such as cheddar, monterey jack or an Italian blend of cheeses.

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All the ingredients and baking dish. The pasta was a gift from my cute cousin, she went to Italy and bought that for me.
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Cooking the zucchini and spinach.   Tossing the cooked pasta with vegetables, tomato sauce and half of each cheese.

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before baking

pasta
After baking. look at the browned cheesey deliciousness!

Baked Pasta
From foodnetwork March 2011 issue.

1 pound pasta (faralle, ziti, rigatoni, cavatapi, fusilli, penne or large shells)
4 cups tomato sauce (about one jar of prepared tomato sauce)
3 cups cooked ground meat and/or cooked chopped vegetables
3 cups shredded melting cheese  (mozzarella, provolone, fontina or asiago)
1 cup grating cheese (Parmesan, pecorino or ricotta salata)

Preheat the over to 450°
Cook the pasta till al dente (still has a bite/slightly uncooked) and cook the meat and/or vegetables.
Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce, meat and/or vegetables and half of each cheese.
Spread in an oiled 3 to 4 quart baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pasta.
Bake uncovered, until browned, about 20 minutes.
Let it cool for a bit and Enjoy!