I. Fruit Turnovers (Suitable for Pic-Nics) [1248.]
I went blackberry picking two weekends ago and decided to jump into the world of pastry with both feet so I would have something to do with the berries besides just eat them. The extent of my pastry “expertise” is making quick pâte brisée and simple crusts for things like empanadas. I peeped at the puff pastry recipe in my 1980s edition of the Joy of Cooking and immediately took note of the fact that it was a page and a half or so, whereas Beeton’s recipe for “puff paste” was not much more than a paragraph. Turnovers called for the Medium Puff Paste [1206.], which called for a mix of lard and butter.
I immediately decided to chuck out modern recipes, and see what Beeton’s would produce. As is often the case, the recipe proved to be a rough outline for, perhaps, what many cooks knew. Many recipes I feel are more of a reminder or the Cliff’s Notes version for rusty experts than a step-by-step.
I rolled the “paste” out after stirring the flour and water together, and began slicing the butter over the dough, or in the case of the lard below, spreading it on. I chilled the lard a bit, but perhaps it was too warm. The order was butter, lard, butter.
I let the dough chill overnight because I was running out of time, and thought warm turnovers would be nice for morning. Plus I knew the air would be nice and cool then. I cut rounds using a small plate and filled them with fresh blackberries that had been lightly macerated with granulated sugar.
They looked pretty and they tasted good, but the dough was a bit “heavy.” Edible, but certainly nothing like what comes out of a pastry case. Plus there was a river of grease in the pan when I took them out of the oven. Seasoned bakers will scoff at my naivité, but I did a little looking online and discovered that croissants, danishes, and their ilk will leak their grease if they do not go into the oven quite cold. I think these turnovers should have had a little sojourn in the fridge before I baked them.
Not all was lost, though. As I said they were perfectly edible. I decided I am going to make some modern recipes this week that call for quickie frozen puff pastry, like a tomato goat cheese tart, to get some more practice in.
Overall, I am glad I went in blind without trying to remember 4,000 tips, since I tend to over-research things like this. I got a feel for the process without stressing out. I think I will attempt to apply this lesson to more aspects of my life. It is not always necessary to do things perfectly the first time, is it?
II. Strawberries in Madeira Redux
GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE. I finally figured out the point of preserving strawberries in madeira. I mentioned earlier this month that two months later the strawberries were unlovely and not very tasty, either. However! The resulting madeira is very, very delicious. It still tastes strongly of madeira, but also completely like strawberries. I am enjoying a small glass of this once and a while on ice.
This week I am making “curry powder.” I know there are many, many varieties available–I am going to see if I can figure out what this recipe was attempting to ape. I have been meaning to try this for years, so I am excited.