Monday, September 28, 2009
The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.
Woo hoo! I have never made puff pastry before, so I was super excited. I watched the little video everyone found that had Julia Child and Michel Richard making puff pastry (to be used for something else) and I made my quick dough in the food processor, and I got out my pound of butter, hammered it down into a disc, and wrapped my dough around it. Making a puff pastry means rolling out the butter-wrapped-dough and folding it onto itself, and then rotating the dough disc, rolling it out, and folding it onto itself again.
Next, for making vols-au-vents. I hadn't heard of these but it turns out they are just puff pastry "cups" to hold a lovely filling, savory or sweet. A classic vols-au-vent filling is a creamy mushroom mixture, like a thick soup, so I decided to do something similar and make a large vols-au-vent and whip up a thick and creamy chicken stew. It was like a chicken pot pie really, and it turned out to be so delicious! The Husband loved this so much, I made it a few more times for him throughout the week. Goodness, we ate a lot of puff pastry this week.
I had a few different shapes of "pastry bowls" - some small, some large, trying out a few of my biscuit cutters. I didn't have any small enough to make super cute little bites so I had to cut those by hand with a sharp knife. I had some leftover scraps of dough so I rolled them out into a rough square and covered them with cinnamon, rolled up each end towards the center, and then sliced them into palmiers. These were baked along with the vols-au-vent and after one bite of a cinnamon palmier, we fell in love and gobbled up all the rest This homeade puff pastry is so delicious!
There were a few other vols-au-vents left over from my first batch of baking, and after the delicious creamy chicken stew and cinny-palmiers, I couldn't leave well enough alone. The Husband already went snooping around and ate the "hats" of the remaining cups so I decided to just make fresh vols-au-vents the next day and use these up. I cut one ripe banana and sauteed it with brown sugar and butter, with a pinch of cinnamon... a quick banana foster! I poured this into the two remaining vols-au-vents and they were devoured shortly there after.
The next day I made a larger vols-au-vent for The Husband for more left over chicken stew and the extras were used for additional palmiers. I also made a few appetizer vols-au-vents, but savory with something besides chicken stew. I used chopped up black forest ham, gruyere cheese, and scallions. These were so delicious freshly baked, dipped in a little bit of dijon mustard.
These were a big hit with The Husband (as expected) and I would certainly do something like this for a party appetizer sometime. I think they would be crowd pleasers!
I also made some fillings for my dessert vols-au-vents for the next day - a pastry cream and some caramel dried apples (that were reconstituted in cider). The next day, I finally got home early enough from work to take advantage of daylight for taking decent photographs. I quick made 4 small square vols-au-vent (and some additional palmiers) and filled one with pastry cream and a raspberry on top, one with pastry cream with our favorite blueberry preserves, and the last one was filled with the caramel apple mixture. I was so excited to try this pastry cream.... then I found out it was basically vanilla pudding. What is that light and airy white cream that fills doughnuts... is that bavarian cream? I think that is what I was hoping for. Maybe next time :)
These dessert vols-au-vent were equally delicious and I decided to just use up the rest of the pastry dough and make a mini strudel with the remaining caramel apples for The Husband, and the rest got topped on a casserole of additional chicken stew (yes three times in one week, but he didn't complain due to the pastry!) which was baked into a delicious pot pie. I actually was being really good this week which means The Husband ate about 90% of the puff pastry batch in a matter of 4 days or so... uh-oh. :) Good thing he runs marathons!
Anyway, these were truly delicious and I had so much fun thinking of different fillings - savory and sweet - to go into these little beauties. Making the puff pastry was a great lesson and I might even make it again sometime (even with the frozen stuff being so readily available). Thank you Steph! Go to Steph's blog for the recipe. :) Oh and sorry for being a day late, I can't believe I forgot yesterday!
Posted by Kitchen Bliss! at Monday, September 28, 2009