When I was a kid, my mother treated Valentine’s Day with the same attention as most people give Easter. Valentine’s breakfast would feature heart studded socks tucked in my juice glass and conversation hearts in my cereal bowl. This was, of course, after sitting with me a few days prior to design and create an elaborate valentine’s box in which to stow all of the cards and candy I was sure to receive on the Big Day.
Now that I am a grown up, nothing says Holiday like a beautiful meal with an impressive culinary centerpiece. And nothing says ‘I Love You’ quite so well as ‘I made fresh puff pastry for you, with my very own hands.‘
I wanted to post this in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day, in case you ant to give it a test drive.
Buckle up, kids this one is an epic!
Recipes after the jump….Rough Puff Pastry
(adapted from Brave Tart)
225 g (about 1 2/3 cup) All Purpose flour
225 g (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup ice cold water
Cut butter into half inch cubes and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl combine flour, salt, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Add chilled butter and toss in flour mixture until butter cubes are coated. Then smash each cube with your thumb until flat. Mix until the butter pieces are evenly distributed through the flour, then add ice water a little at a time and mix with your hands until the dough comes together and the sides of the bowl are clear. Add more water as necessary; you may not use all the water.
Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.
On a well floured surface with a well floured rolling pin, roll the dough to about a 1/4 inch rectangle. Fold the top of the dough down to the center, fold the bottom up to meet it, then fold the two side together to form a ‘book’. Turn the dough a quarter turn so the open side is to your left, roll out once more to about 1/4 inch thickness, fold once more in the book fold, then wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Though the dough can be made a day in advance and left to chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Roast Beets and Blanched Greens
2-3 large beets with greens attached
Salt and pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove stems from beets and reserve. Place beets on a foil lined baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, cover with another sheet of foil and crimp tightly to seal. Roast for 40-50 minutes until beets are soft enough for a knife to reach the center of the beet. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Once beets are cool enough to handle, rub the rough outer skin off with a paper towel.
While beets are roasting, prepare the greens. Remove the greens from the stalks. Discard the stalks (or save for another purpose like a vegetable stock), and rinse greens. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Blanch greens in salted water for 30 seconds, then lift with a slotted spoon into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the greens once they are cool.
(adapted from Julia Child)
2 tbs shallots, minced
1/4 cup madeira (if you don’t have madiera, sherry will do, no sherry, sub stock. You can also add both stock and booze.)
1 tbs butter
Salt and pepper
Cheesecloth or dishtowel that you don’t mind staining
Finely chop mushrooms in a food processor or with your own darling hands. Twist mushrooms in cheesecloth or towel until juices run out (you can save this juice to add to a vegetable stock, yum!). Melt butter in about 1 tbs of olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Cook mushrooms and shallots, stirring frequently, until dry and browned. Add madeira or stock (or both!), and reduce until liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
You can easily make this recipe vegan by using vegan puff pastry and non-dairy milk in place of the egg in the egg wash. Instead of whipped goat cheese as an accompaniment, use your preferred vegan cheese, or a bed of lightly dressed field greens and a sprinkling of pistachios.
2 large roasted beets
Blanched beet greens
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbs water)
Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. With a small, sharp knife cut a diagonal circle out of the flat top of each beet. Press water out of blanched beet greens with paper towels until quite dry. Wrap beet in beet greens until entire beet is covered (this keeps any juices from running into your pastry and spoiling the surprise).
Roll out puff pastry to about 1/4 inch thick. cut a round of pastry about 1 inch wider than the widest part of the beet. Put this round on a piece of parchment paper on baking sheet, so once the wellington is assembled, it will be easy to move to the oven! Place a tablespoon of duxelle in the center of this pastry round, make a well in the center of the mushroom mixture and place the pointed tip of the beet in this well. Press the duxelle around the beet so it stands up straight, then crust the beet with more mushrooms until it is covered. Top with another pastry round, large enough to cover the top of the beet and meet the bottom pastry. Seal pastry together and brush with egg wash.
With a sharp knife, score a crosshatch pattern in the top of the wellington, being careful not to cut all the way through the pastry. Cut one small ‘x’ all the way through this crosshatch in the center to allow steam to escape.
Repeat with remaining beet, greens, duxelle and pastry.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 20-30 minutes until the pastry is puffed and deeply golden. If the outside of the pastry is browning too quickly, cover it lightly with aluminum foil.
Serve on a bed of whipped goat cheese (8oz of goat cheese whipped with 2 tbs milk), or a mixed field greens dressed in balsamic vinaigrette and pistachios.