Lesson 76: Puff Pastry

Monday, March 15, 2010

I remember when I first went to visit ICE back in September with my mom. We were given a tour and looked in on a class that was making an apple tart with puff pastry. The adviser giving us the tour told us they were using puff pastry that they made the day before. I was amazed that they made their own puff pastry and remember thinking "I can't wait for that to be me!" .. Well, today was the day that I finally learned how to make puff pastry.

Four hours later... I must admit that I would rather buy a frozen package at the grocery store. It was a lot of hard labor and repetitive steps. It seemed like we worked so hard today with very little pay off (since we didn't make anything out of the pastry).. so maybe it'll all seem worth it tomorrow when we actually produce something.

Chef Chad was sick today so we had a substitute chef :( We started out by making a dough (similar to the pate sucree from last week). While the dough rested in the fridge, we started pounding out butter (to soften it while keeping it cold). The amount of noise in the kitchen was deafening as we all pounded the rolling pins as hard as we could against the butter. It was a good way to get out any anger or stress!

Clearly I didn't have any anger or stress today because I was smiling :)

Here's the 2 pounds of butter pounded out into an even square:

We worked in teams of 2 to work on the first large batch of puff pastry. We rolled out our dough into sort of a diamond shape. We placed the butter square in the middle and folded the dough over it like a package:
Next, we rolled and rolled and rolled until it was a large, thin rectangle. We folded the dough like a book and continued to roll and roll to form another large, thin rectangle (this is what forms all of the layers of dough and butter). After folding the dough again, we let the puff pastry rest in the fridge. Later on, we rolled and folded another 2 times.

Each student also made their own puff pastry (just a smaller version). So I had to bang on some more butter and roll and fold dough a million times....

Here was my final puff pastry nice and folded:

Well, lets hope that's the last time I have to make puff pastry.. it was definitely a process. I am curious to see how it tastes in the various recipes tomorrow (both sweet and savory).

On another note, I cooked a delicious dinner this weekend! I had a special guest over for dinner on Sunday night (who I really wanted to impress). I finally got a chance to make homemade pasta at home, since I have been dying to make it since making it in class. I made a few slight changes and added half whole wheat flour to the mix. I hand cut the pasta into a thick fettuccini/pappardalle.

I made a hearty meat sauce to go along with the pasta. I used Anne Burrel's recipe for pasta bolognese. I would say I followed the recipe exactly, but let's be serious, when do I ever do that? I substituted a mix of ground angus beef and ground veal for the meat. I also made some other slight changes along the way with different spices and added half beef stock instead of just water.

I started out by pureeing mirepoix and garlic and browning it in a large saute pan:
After adding the beef and tomato paste, I added in my uncles' homemade merlot. I measured out the 3 cups that the recipe called for and noticed a drop left in the bottle. I looked at my mom and she just said "go for it"! Sooooo I did..

After about 4 hours of simmering, the meat sauce was beautifully thick and rich:

I forgot to take a picture of the final pasta dish, but I took a pic of the leftovers this morning. The sauce looks thicker because it was sitting in the fridge overnight..

I came home from school and found my dad enjoying the leftovers.. He loved it! Hopefully my guest on Sunday did too :)


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