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Welcome to my collection of recipes and cooking related ramblings. Please don't expect culinary perfection during your time here... for I am a frustrated foodie with very little patience and more than a tendency for often unnecessary creativity in the kitchen. I have a hard time following instructions (Never fear, I can read, I just don't like being told what to do), so cooking is a good exercise in discipline for me. Luckily I have a willing husband to taste test these creations, good and bad, so I don't have to suffer alone in my experimentations.  

If you dare - learn along with me as I try out recipes, tweak them to my liking, learn what NOT to do and share all the mundane details with you! Let's do this... 

Entries in Puff Pastry (2)

Saturday
Apr282012

Asparagus Gruyere Tart

Hungry? Feeling decadent? Wanna impress with finesses at your next night in with the girls? Feel like channeling Ina Garten and dining with Geoffrey on your gorgeous back porch surrounded by climbing jasmine and cooing doves?

No? If you merely fancy a lazy Sunday morning padding around the house in your ancient bunny slippers, watching an Ice Loves Coco marathon and planning something especially swanky to go with your morning-after mimosa cocktail, then this is the recipe for you. Savory and rich and crunchy - it satisfies the senses and soothes the soul. Plus - it's the best way I can think of to eat my vegetables! Recipe serves 6-8 depending on who you're trying to fool. 

Asparagus Gruyere Tart

Ingredients:

  • 14-15 stalks of asparagus, trimmed
  • 15 slices thinly sliced salami, ham or prosciutto
  • 6 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400ºF. On a floured surface roll out your thawed sheet of puff pastry to a rectangle approximately 11"x13" or so. Make sure to press together any seams where the pastry separates. Carefully use a knife to score a line approximately 1" around the outside of the pastry to form a "crust". Cook the pastry for approximately 12 minutes until it begins to puff and brown. Remove pastry from oven and gently press down on the center portion of the tart shell where it has puffed up and flatten it back down.

While the crust is prebaking in the oven, wash and trim aspargus spears. Take a slice of meat and wrap it around each spear leaving the tops exposed. Sprinkle about 3/4 of the cheese in the center of the pastry inside the scored edge. Lay asparagus spears in an alternating pattern crosswise on the crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until asparagus is tender.  Let cool slightly before cutting. Use a large, sharp knife to cleanly cut through asparagus. This is great served warm or at room temperature, which makes it an ideal appetizer too.

Saturday
Apr072012

Pulled Pork Puff Pastry Pockets

Oh, baby baby. Two of my favorite things... pastry and pork.... all folded into one neat little package. Who on this big round rock can resist a hand pie. Hell, I can't resist saying "hand pie". It's such a good little turn of phrase... hand pie. Sigh. Anyway, you may know them better as "hot pockets" or turnovers. I'm going to call these Pulled Pork Puff Pastry Pockets - because I like alliteration. Sue me.

I like to cook dishes that double or triple up for multiple meals (less work for me)... which means finding ways to use the left overs. One of my favorite meals to make, because it's almost easier than boiling an egg, is crock pot pulled pork. With only three main ingredients, even a monkey could do it. It would have to be a monkey that doesn't mind eating a pig. Do monkeys eat meat? I'm sure I'm supposed to know this...I need to google it... we'll get back to this later.... must get back to the recipe for the pulled pork filling.

This pork is great on top of baked potatoes, sandwiches, made into nachos or just eaten on its own with potato salad or cole slaw. It's perfect for a weeknight meal - just start the crock pot in the morning... come home, stir in the sauce and... voila... an hour later dinner's ready! Anyways... Since there are only two of us in the house, I have to get creative to use up the leftovers on this one - it's usually good for 3 full meals. A bolt of inspiration hit me today when I was trying to decide how to use up last night's batch - I could make a pie, a pork pie! What kind of pork pie, you ask? A puffy pork pie! Yup, that's the ticket.

4-Ingredient Crock Pot Pulled Pork

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 4-6 lb. pork shoulder or pork butt
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 can Ginger Ale, Dr. Pepper or Coke (any soda will do)
  • 1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce (or whichever brand is your favorite)
  • Seasoning to taste: salt and black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper - whatever your preference

INSTRUCTIONS: 

Half onion and slice into half moon slivers. Place in the bottom of the crock pot. Next, season the pork shoulder with salt, pepper, garlic powder, or seasoning of your choice. Don't be shy with the seasoning, the pork is going to cook for a long time and it will absorb the seasoning nicely. Place the pork on top of the onions in the crock pot. Pour the can of soda over the pork and turn the crock pot to low. Allow pork to cook for 7-9 hours until meat is falling apart when poked with a fork.

Drain liquid through a strainer and return meat and onions to the crock pot. Remove and move any bones to the trash. Gently tear with two forks the pork until it is fully shredded. Pour in the bottle of barbecue sauce. You want the meat to be thoroughly moist but not dripping in sauce. Leave the crock pot on low for approximately one more hour to allow the BBQ sauce to fully flavor the meat. Serve on a sandwich or as a topping on potatoes. Delicious with melted cheddar cheese on top.

 

Pulled Pork Pastry Pockets

INGREDIENTS: 

  • about 2 cups Pulled Pork (see above)
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 small onion, minced
  • 1 pickle, chopped finely
  • barbecue sauce or mustard
  • 2 sheets Peppridge Farm puff pastry
  • 1 egg + 1 Tbsp water, mixed for egg wash

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425F. Thaw pastry and cut each sheet into 4 equal pieces, roughly square. Mix onion and pickles into pulled pork. Lay a slice of cheese on top of each pastry square. Spoon about 1/4 cup of pork mixture on top of cheese. Spread out evenly over half of the square leaving about 1/2 and inch around the edges. Salt and pepper the pork to your liking then spread barbecue sauce (about 1 Tbsp.) on top. Fold each square in half and crimp edges together with a fork. Brush egg wash over the top of each pie and place on non-stick cookie sheet.

Bake pies for approximately 5 minutes at 425F and then turn the oven down to 375F. Cook for another 15 minutes until golden brown and flaky. If you're lucky ,some cheese has made attempt at an escape and is oozing out one  corner or another. That little bit of burnt cheesiness is my favorite. Mmmmm. Makes 8 hand pies.