Thursday, September 29, 2011
If I ever meet the person who invented puff pastry I'll give them a hug. It's something I always have a box of in the freezer because it comes in handy when I need a last-minute dessert that's quick to whip up. Stuff it, fill it, roll it. Sprinkle it with sugar, cinnamon or herbs. There are few things as versatile! I will say that I more often use it when making dessert or savory appetizers so I was excited to find a recipe that uses puff pastry as a main course. I mean, puff pastry for supper. Does life get much better? Maybe if you add ham and cheese to the mix, it does.
We eat a lot of sandwiches - with soup, salad or a side of chips or vegetables. And while sandwiches can be cold, hot, toasted or grilled - they're still sandwiches. It's nice to switch things up, and this cheesy ham puff is a great way to do just that. My college roommate Jennifer (she of Broccoli Casserole fame) used to make what she calls Party Biscuits once in awhile: rolls with ham, cheese, mustard and poppy seeds. This puff reminds me a lot of those rolls, but this has the added crispness and buttery flavor of the pastry (which is never a bad thing!) After following the recipe as written, however, I think a bit of mustard would be a nice touch because its tang would cut the creaminess and buttery taste. You could also change the filling - turkey would work well - and choose a different cheese to make it a dish your family would love.
Cheesy Ham Puff
Adapted from Everyday Food
Serves 12 as an appetizer or up to nine as a main dish (rewarms well for lunches)
1 to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
6 ounces sliced ham (or meat of your choice)
1 cup grated Mozzarella (or cheese of your choice)
1 large egg, beaten
1.Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. On a well-floured counter, roll each sheet of pastry into a 10x13 rectangle. Transfer to sheets and refrigerate.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook about a minute, stirring constantly, until golden. Add milk, whisking constantly, and bring to a simmer. Stir until thick, about five minutes. Add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool 30 to 45 minutes.
4. While flour mixture cools, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
5. On one pastry sheet, arrange ham evenly, leaving at least a 3/4-inch border. Spread sauce over ham and sprinkle with cheese. Brush remaining border with egg then top with pastry sheet. Fold edges over and press to seal.
6. Brush top pastry sheet with egg. Cut slits in top to vent. Bake about 30 minutes, until brown and puffy. Serve warm or slightly cooled. Refrigerate leftovers.