Archive for March 27th, 2017

At Home: I’ve Been Doing Some Baking

March 27, 2017

Maybe a better title for this post would go something like: I Bake, Have a Problem, and Make a Mistake.

I had quite a bit of apricot jam and lekvar (prune jam) leftover from when I made hamantaschen earlier this month and have been looking for a way to use them up. Thank you, Rick Bayless! Yes, that Rick Bayless whose Chicago restaurants focus on Mexican cuisine. It may seem odd that he would be a source for something that would allow me to use these two jams. But I was watching his t.v. show Mexico – One Plate at a Time, and as it happened, this episode included a dessert* that involved puff pastry stuffed with a combination of cheeses and quince paste. Hmmm… I could do that! Well, sort of….

Now, there is no way I’d ever make puff pastry. Happily, Pepperidge Farms to the rescue! Their frozen puff pastry comes two sheets in each box. All one needs to do is thaw and roll out. I always keep a box in the freezer. There was one sheet left. Perfect since Bayliss’s recipe called for one sheet cut in half. I had the necessary cheeses on hand: cream cheese, goat, and ricotta. Instead of the quince paste, I would use the apricot jam. But then, I started thinking. Why not use both the apricot and the lekvar?

While the pastry defrosted, I combined the cheeses in my stand mixer to a smooth consistency. (Bayliss used a food processor, but I can’t use my Cuisinart blade because it’s part of the blade recall, and the replacement blade won’t be sent until May or June!) After rolling out one half of the pastry, I spread the cheese mixture in one layer. Then, I topped the cheese with apricot jam on one side, lekvar on the other letting them meet in the middle. I rolled out the other pastry half, place on top of the layers, pinched the edges of the pastry together, crimped them with a fork, brushed the top with an egg wash, and baked.

Here is my Puff Pastry with Cheese, Apricot Jam and Lekvar. To be honest, I had some difficulty working with the pastry, so as you can see, it didn’t come out looking anything near perfect. But what really counts is how it tastes, and it’s delicious.

At Home: Puff Pastry with Cheese, Apricot, and Lekvar

I also baked cookies. For the past few years, Michael has been receiving a small calendar from some real estate agent in our area, the back of which is magnetized, the idea being to hang it on the refrigerator door. We can’t do that in NJ because the door of that frig is a wood panel that matches the cabinets. However, the frig in our apartment is not fancy-schmancy, so we hang it there. On the back of each month’s calendar there’s a recipe. Last month, it was for Sugar Cookies. Pretty basic. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg. Then slowly add flour mixture until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. So, I’m at the point where I’m adding the flour when I suddenly realize that – math genius that I am (not!) — I had miscalculated the amount of butter. Ergo, not enough to equal the amount of flour. What to do? I didn’t want to throw everything out and start from scratch, so I decided that since I was adding flour a little at a time (as per directions), I could just stop when the dough pulled from the sides. Which is what I did, and when that happened, I had half the flour left (which I threw out). The cookies turned out well. Crisp and tasty. But I think they could have benefitted if the recipe had included vanilla extract.

At Home: Sugar Cookies

Finally, something I did right! Last winter, I had periodontal surgery. Restricted to a soft foods diet, I made a crustless quiche. This week it was Michael’s turn, and since he’s on the same soft foods diet, I again made that quiche. Perfection! I didn’t take a photo, but last year’s blog post has a photo and the recipe.

*Rick Bayless’s Puff Pastry with Quince and Cheese recipe is here.