Rachael Ray often says, "Take a little help from the grocery store," and while I'm not saying that every meal should be made in less than thirty minutes, I agree with her on this one thing.
The grocery store is your friend.
When I moved to a small town in Rhode Island, from the not-so-small town of Boston, I discovered that grocery stores have come a long way. Our local market (the independent that's trying to hold its own against the large chains) stocks more variety in every aisle, more ingredients we used to consider exotic or simply hard-to-find, and lately, an upgraded produce department.
And -- hallelujah -- a healthy supply of frozen puff pastry.
I've made puff pastry from scratch, and proved to myself that it's not hard to do, but it's easier to buy it and keep a few boxes in the freezer. If anyone asks, you don't need to tell that you took a bit of help from the grocery store.
What is puff pastry?
A wheat dough made by rolling the dough with layers of butter; the finished dough has close to 1500 layers of butter and flour.
How/where to store:
In the freezer, until the use-by date. Defrost according to package directions, right before using.
More facts about puff pastry, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Puff pastry (Recipe: asparagus gruyere tart)
Turkey and cheese in puff pastry
Adapted from a Barefoot Contessa recipe that used ham, this savory tart starts with store-bought puff pastry and a few things from the supermarket deli department. My market sells sliced roasted turkey breast, which is so much better than the preformed stuff. It takes more time to defrost the dough than to put the dish together, and the presentation is a wow (even when you let the pastry get a tad too brown, like I did). Great for brunch, lunch or a light supper, served with a green salad. [Note: you can substitute Tartelette's fabulous gluten-free puff pastry in this dish.] Serves 6.
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted (I use Pepperidge Farm)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 lb thinly sliced turkey breast
1/2 lb thinly sliced Gruyere cheese
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of water (egg wash)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
Lay one sheet of pastry on a floured counter top, and roll it out to 10x12 inches. It's very hard to keep the pastry squared on the edges, but do the best you can. You can trim it later. Place pastry on the sheet pan.
Brush the center of the pastry with the mustard, leaving a one-inch border around the edge (leave a larger border if you think you'll have to trim the pastry later). Layer on the turkey breast to cover the mustard, and then spread the cheese.
Brush the border with the egg wash.
Roll out the second sheet of puff pastry to the size of the first, and place it on top of the filled pastry, lining up the edges as best you can. If the edges are a bit ragged, trim with a very sharp knife. Press the edges together to seal them, and then, as extra insurance and for a bit of decoration, press with the tines of a fork all the way around.
Brush the top of the tart with egg wash. With a small, sharp knife, make three slits in the top (cut all the way through the pastry) to allow steam to escape.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and serve hot or warm. It's also good cold, which makes this a great picnic dish, but the puff will settle down a bit.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Mushrooms and peppers in puff pastry
Puff pastry cups filled with sweet potato, apple and nuts
Spicy turkey rolls
Dulce de leche milhojas
"Chicks in blankets"
Other recipes that use puff pastry:
Homemade strawberry crossover puff pastries, from White on Rice Couple
Quick and easy apple tart, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Mango tatin tartlets, from La Tartine Gourmande
Puff pastry tomato tarts, from Cooking with the Single Guy
Savory mango chutney and cheddar cheese palmiers, from Cookin' Canuck
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