Saturday, September 26, 2009

Puff and Magic Mushrooms

Sounds a little psychedelic, doesn't it? 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.

Puff pastry is nothing more than layers and layers of butter between flour. If done properly, when it bakes, it puffs up and becomes a flaky, buttery treat. Vols-au-vent are layered pastries. The bottom layer is just a round cut from the pastry after it has been rolled quite thin. Then another doughnut-shaped round is cut to stack on top. When baked, these pieces adhere to form a little dish to hold whatever treats are added.

I decided to fill mine with sauteed mushrooms. My photography leaves something to be desired, but the vol-au-vent did puff up beautifully and made a great container for my mushrooms, garnished with a freshly harvested tomato and a little parsley, both grown in Bob's organic garden. These little puffs were small, only a couple inches in diameter, so they were perfect appetizers for dinner the night I made them. Or...they would have been perfect appetizers had there been any left by the time Bob got home. Really, they were only a couple bites a piece and they were so appealing and after all that rolling and folding and rolling some more... well, I deserved a little treat - or two - or however many there were.

The good thing is that I froze two thirds of the pastry for future use. These are so versatile - savory things like salads and roast veggies work just as well as sweet fillings such as custards or fruits. And what about seafood? So many possibilities! That's probably why I haven't yet done anything yet. Too hard to make a decision. But one night Bob will come home to a buttery, flaky treat filled with succulent bites of something. Worth waiting for, I think.