Each Thursday, Emily Vikre (a.k.a. fiveandspice) will be sharing a new way to love breakfast -- because breakfast isn't just the most important meal of the day. It's also the most awesome.
Today: The best way to appear fancy? Keep some puff pastry stashed away in your freezer.
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In my years of cooking experience thus far, I’ve come to a few conclusions. You usually need more salt than you think, for example. A good cast iron pan and a worn wooden spoon will make anything turn out better. And if you want to appear fancy, keep puff pastry in your freezer.
Your freezer puff pastry could be homemade, in which case you really are fancy. But if the appearance of fancy is good enough (it is for me!), then store-bought, all-butter puff pastry does the trick nicely. If you have puff pastry on hand to quickly defrost, you can whip up all sorts of simple hors d’oeuvre, desserts, breakfasts, brunches, pot pies, Beef Wellingtons, and so on without breaking a sweat. And they’ll have those golden brown puffed layers that seem fancy. Yes, they can also seem like a passed appetizer at a late-90s graduation party (hello, mini spanakopita triangles and mushroom cups). But come on -- you know those still feel a little fancy, too.
Case in point: Last weekend I wanted to make something special for breakfast but was at a loss as to what to do. I had puff pastry, and I had some cream cheese, so I decided to pull together some quick cheese-filled turnovers. My husband’s preferred bagel order is cream cheese and tomato on sesame, so I followed that lead and made tomato and cream cheese turnovers, sprinkled with sesame seeds. They’re like his bagel, but on butter steroids. (Which is the only way to win the Tour de Pastry these days.) These take only minutes to prepare, but they bake up beautiful and flaky and flavorful. And fancy.
Makes 6 very large (pictured) or 12 more modest pastries
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 2 large eggs (one is for an egg wash) 1 large tomato, sliced in 1/4 inch-thick slices 2 sheets of all-butter puff pastry dough, defrosted 2 tablespoons sesame seeds Salt and pepper
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.