Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fast Recipe: Sage Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often. – Johnny Carson

Amazing sage-orange-butter basted turkey, in less than 1.5 hours!

Related links:

Beep! beep! This turkey could almost be a roadrunner it’s so fast. Imagine a 4.5 kg roasted turkey that’s ready – from the oven – in about 1 hour 15 minutes. That's how long mine took.

It’s still one week before Thanksgiving, and if you’re intimidated by the usual long roasting time of making the required main dish I’ve taken care of that. So go out and buy that bird, resting assured that you won’t be chained to the kitchen.

What is spatchcocking?
The secret – if you can call it that – is in “spatchcocking” the beast. Spatchcock is one of those words thats meaning has changed from being a noun to a verb. 

Originally, a spatchcock was a juvenile chicken or game bird. These birds we generally butterflied for much faster cooking than if left whole. I have done it a few times (see recipe links above). 

Today, spatchcocking (butterflying) is removing the backbone from poultry and flattening the breastbone by firmly pressing it down with your hands.

In this way the meat is all of fairly even thickness and will cook in the same time. Poultry is notorious for having dry breast meat and undercooked dark meat. This technique minimizes that problem.

When you look at the pictures you will see mine is in two pieces. That was an unfortunate circumstance of not being in my own kitchen. I had it beautifully spatchcocked but I did this at my mother’s house... with her bakeware.

When the time came to put the flattened turkey in a pan I couldn’t find one large enough. So I finished the cut through and roasted it in two halves. The principle is the same. Of course this technique does not bring a turkey in all its glory to the table, but the sage herb butter can be just as easily used on an uncut bird.

To slowly baste under the skin and make the bird flavourful I combined butter, sage and orange rind. The mixture was then massaged between the flesh and the skin.

If you’re like most folks who don’t have a massive banquet table your bird probably doesn’t make it to the table whole anyway. That makes spatchcocking a very convenient option.

Being tied to the kitchen takes a lot of fun out of any holiday. With this recipe you can cut your time in half for your Thanksgiving turkey. Enjoy your family, rather than talking to them from the kitchen door!

This wasn’t Thanksgiving – just a warm up – so I served simply, with sliced French bread and carrots and beans that were boiled and then fried briefly in a little butter, honey and nutmeg. Mmmmm...

Sage Roasted Spatchcock Turkey
Prep: 20 min  |  Cook: 1.5 hr, maximum
4.5 kg turkey, butterflied
the herb butter
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh sage
grated rind of 1 orange
1 pinc each of salt and pepper
the baste
juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch each of pepper and salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Take out any “extras” that come inside the bird and set aside. Place your victim on a large tray or clear countertop. This can get a bit messy and you need a little room.

With a pair of sharp kitchen shears cut down on both sides of the backbone from the neck to the tail. Remove and set aside with the other pieces. Trim off the first joint of each wing as well.

Remove any extra skin and set it aside also. These pieces can be made into stock by simmering in water with onion, carrot, celery and herbs. If they’re meaty you could turn that stock into soup.

Place the bird skin-side up and press down on the breastbone with both hands until you hear a crack. The bird will then flatten out.

Loosen the skin from the bird with your fingers. You don’t have to do all the skin, just most of the breast, thigh and partially down each leg.

Mix the butter, sage, rind and a little salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Spread the mixture evenly under the skin.

Place the turkey in a large pan big enough to accommodate it (that was my downfall…) it flat.

Take the juice of the orange and whisk it with the oil, salt and pepper. Brush the surface with the mixture, reserving any extra.

Roast the bird for between 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes until the internal temperature reads 180°F. Test the breast and thigh with an instant read thermometer.

Brush the surface of the skin partway through with the remaining basting liquid.

When done, remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.


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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recipe: Marshmallow Popcorn Squares

Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one's bath like a lump of sugar. – Pablo Picasso

These are every bit as good as they look. Better, maybe.

Are these the ultimate sugary midnight snack? Maybe… although when I ate them it was actually more like 9:30pm.

I really had made them for the next day but, sadly, they didn’t survive. I just couldn’t wait, and when I started I couldn’t stop. I refuse to tell you how many of these I ate. I’m a little embarrassed. So much for will power.

Marshmallows, margarine and vanilla all
melted into a wonderful goo.
These are a twist on the old “Rice Krispie Squares” recipe so many of us love. They are absolutely every bit as tasty made with popcorn, and cheaper. And fast? Extremely fast if you use the microwave method I have written out in the recipe.

Did you know you can pop corn kernels in the microwave just in a brown paper lunch bag? Place 1/4 cup at a time in the bag, set the microwave on high and set the timer for 3 minutes. Stand in front and listen. 

When the popping dies down stop cooking and remove. That’s usually around 2 minutes. But every microwave is different – so listen to the sound. If you “nuke” too long the popcorn will burn. 

Popping in a brown paper bag takes away some of the mess of making these. You can even re-use the bag. Of course you still have the messy marshmallow and popcorn bowls…

At this stage you have to work a little quickly.
But clean-up isn’t that onerous. Marshmallows are essentially whipped sugar so hot water and a little soap cleans all your dishes in a flash.

Many recipes online have overly involved directions for using waxed paper and such to press the mixture down into the pan. I find a little margarine on the hands worked beautifully.

Two quick notes before we get into the recipe: 

1. Pop your own popcorn. It will have no salt and no oil. Both are important as some packaged microwave popcorns use hydrogenated and/or coconut oils. Both contain trans-fats – a dietary no-no. 

Even plain old Orville Reddenbacher’s Tender White Regular contains 20% of your daily allowance of fats. No trans-fats though, thank goodness.

2. You can substitute butter, but… If you substitute the margarine for butter (which seems like a good idea) you will not get as “soft” an end product. The butter stiffens them up a bit. But that’s your choice.

Now, on to the marshmallows!!!

Marshmallow Popcorn Squares
Prep: 5 min  |  Yield: 16 squares
3 tbsp margarine
250 g  marshmallows, miniature or regular ( 1 bag)
1 tsp vanilla
8 cups freshly popped popcorn, unsalted
(1/2 cup kernels = 8 cups, approximately)

Good luck letting these cool completely...
Prepare a 8x8 or similar pan by liberally greasing with margarine and lining with a piece of waxed paper.

Pop the popcorn and place in a large bowl. Squeeze it a few times to *slightly* break up the popcorn. This helps make a more regular mass when pressed into the pan.

Microwave the margarine and marshmallows together for 2 minutes. Then take it out and stir. If the marshmallows are melted, add the vanilla. 

If they’re not melted, microwave for a further 30 seconds – then add the vanilla.

Pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and stir well until mixed together.

Quickly turn the popcorn out into the pan. Grease your hands with margarine and flatten the mixture, making sure to get it as uniform as possible.

Let sit until cooled and/or refrigerate. Cut into 2” squares and serve!


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Friday, September 28, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Crunchy Honey Cashew Butter

I'm nuts and I know it. But so long as I make 'em laugh, they ain't going to lock me up. – Red Skelton 

The recipe makes 3 jars about this size (about 175 ml each). Good stuff.

Related recipe: Homemade Peanut Butter

I went nuts again. Cashews to be precise. It was time to finally get rid of the bag of the little darlings I purchased last week – before I ate them all.

From nut to butter, the process goes through a few very
identifiable stages. This is the whole nuts (of course).
If you can get pieces cheaper do it. No need for whole nuts.
My modus operandi was to be the food processor, and my goal was cashew butter. What I discovered was that cashews would not “go gentle into that good night” as easily as peanuts (apologies to Dylan Thomas). At least that was my experience.

I had made peanut butter several days ago (see post above) and had purchased cashews at the same time with the same intent. The peanut butter turned out perfectly. It tastes amazingly good. In fact, I cooked with it in yesterday's post.

I figured if the peanut butter was as easy as it was I could do the same with the cashews – throw in the processor, grind and put in a jar. That’s all it took to make peanut butter.

Well, that wasn’t quite the case. This is still unbelievably easy but I was surprised that I had to add vegetable oil to the mixture. 

The fat content of cashews and peanuts differ. It's safe to say all all other nuts differ from each other in that regard as well.

This is the rough chop stage.
I chose this time to make a crunchy nut butter as opposed to the smooth I did for the peanuts. You don’t have to do so if you don’t want.

The nuts I purchased were roasted and lightly salted, not dry roasted. I’m assuming that dry roasted would require a little more vegetable oil than regular, but that’s pure conjecture.

A word on purchasing nuts: They’re not cheap, so shop around. In Nova scotia I find that they are cheaper (per 100g) at the grocery stores than at the bulk food store, by a whopping 77¢.

Recently both our major chains have put bulk bins (back) in their stores. Go there to buy them. You’ll save some dough.

As with all homemade nut butters, you should refrigerate after making. That is because homemade doesn’t have any of the preservatives of commercially produced. It also firms up more after it cools.

Homemade nut butters are so easy to make and a great way to add these nutrient-rich foods into our diet. Too few of us eat nuts on a regular basis. As always, ensure that whoever is eating this has no allergy to cashews. Anaphylactic shock is a nasty, nasty thing, and can be fatal in some cases.

If you know you're not going to kill anyone homemade nut butters make wonderful, thoughtful and healthy gifts. You can flavour them with pretty much anything. Think of the combinations... I have half an eye on making homemade Nutella some time soon.

This butter has not yet made its final journey onto a piece of toast. But I can attest that it’s very tasty by the spoonful!

This is the "cashew flour" stage. If this was peanuts, the next
stage would be a damp mass. Cashews need some help.
Homemade Crunchy Honey Cashew Butter 
500 g cashews
1/4 cup honey
pinch of salt
vegetable oil, as needed

Place 400 g of the cashews in a food processor. Chop into fine pieces. Stop the motor and scrape the ground nuts down into the bowl. If a mass is starting to form, break it up.

Close the processor and chop more until you get cashew “flour” – fine ground cashews. Scrape down the sides occasionally.

Add the honey and process. Keep the motor running. The cashews will continue to break down.

As it processes stop periodically and scrape down the sides. Check to make sure it isn’t forming a solid mass at the same time. Process until the nuts are quite smooth.

This is after the honey and a little oil has been added.
Just add enough oil to let the mixture move freely
in the processor bowl.
Depending on the moisture content of your nuts you will almost certainly need to add a little vegetable oil.

You have to have a mass in the processor that is stiff, yet moves as a purée. 

Slowly add vegetable oil as the motor runs until you get a mixture that barely moves freely in the bowl. Do this at about 1 tablespoon at a time. 

Too much vegetable oil will give you a very loose butter.

Check for salt. Adjust if desired and process more.

Next add the remaining 100g of cashews. Pulse the mixture until the cashews are roughly chopped. Place in a jar or small jars.



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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Recipe: Best Peanut Butter Cookies

Children ask better questions than adults. "May I have a cookie?" "Why is the sky blue?" and "What does a cow say?" are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than "Where's your manuscript?" Why haven't you called?" and "Who's your lawyer?" – Fran Lebowitz

Still slightly warm from the oven.... Mmmmm.

Related recipe: Homemade peanut butter

The butter, PB, honey and sugar.
Get out the milk. We’re having peanut butter cookies!

Peanut butter cookies are a wonderful cookie that are a favourite of both young and old.

Did you know that cookies were originally created sort of by accident? Dutch chefs would used a small amount of cake batter to test their oven temperature before baking a full cake. This was before thermostats in ovens, of course.

These batter tests were called "koekje", which means "little cake" in Dutch. Koekje turned into cookie.

Peanut butter cookies are distinguished from other cookies by having peanut butter as a main ingredient. This cookie most likely originated in the United States in the first decade of the 1900s.

Chilling the dough makes it easier to handle. But this dough
is still very soft and light.
George Washington Carver, an American agricultural educator, was a known promoter of the peanut as a replacement for the cotton crop, which had been heavily damaged by the boll weevil at the start of the 20th century. 

He compiled peanut recipes and published them in a 1916 agricultural bulletin “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption.” In it were three recipes for peanut butter cookies.

Peanut butter cookies are one of my favourites, if the recipe is a good one.

This recipe is a good one. It combines the peanut butter with both brown sugar and honey. This gives the batter a sweetness that is different from sugar alone.

The batter for these cookies is quite light and fluffy and the cookies spread in the oven.

The time listed is important, but so is some visual reference. For soft cookies, bake to the lower time. Crispier cookies take a little longer.

Of course, nobody’s oven is “bang on” as far as temperature goes. The clue is to check the edges. Barely brown means chewy, a couple minutes longer will give you a drier cookie.

Cookies always “firm up” after being removed from the oven so remember that too.

I bet you won’t be able to stop at just one cookie. May I have some more milk, please?

Best Peanut Butter Cookies
Prep: 15 min  |  Refrig: 1 hr  |  Shape: 15  |  Bake: 8 min  |  Yield 40
1/2 cup butter*
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter*
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar for rolling

Cream together the butter, peanut butter, sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Then beat in the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir into batter. Put the batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour to set.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

After the hour, take the dough out of the refrigerator and drop heaping teaspoons of dough into the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.

Form into a ball and place each one on a cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with a fork, crossing the marks to make the common square pattern on the top. (see photo)

If the fork sticks to the dough dip it in sugar.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown slightly. Do not over-bake or the cookies will be dry. 

The cookies will be soft when you remove them from the pan. They firm up as they cool. For chewy cookies bake about 10 minutes, for crispier 12 minutes.

A final note: remember that some people are allergic to peanuts. Consumption can result in a potentially fatal reaction of anaphylactic shock. So make sure no one’s allergic. That's a good thing...

They really spread, didn't they?
* Do not add salt because there is some in both the butter and peanut butter (unless you have made your own and know differently). 


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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How To: Homemade Nacho Hamburger “Helper”

I am a gourmand. I like to eat. When I have something that I like, I tend to have too much of it. That is a guilty pleasure. – Joel Robuchon 

Homemade good!

Related recipe: Homemade Processed Cheese

Guilty pleasures. I have a few, and you’re slowly finding them out – every time that I post. I’m not ashamed, or should I be?

One that I’m not too ashamed to admit to is enjoying Hamburger Helper. But what’s in this culinary wonder? I kind of thought I knew but it surprised me when I read the nutritional info.

Hamburger Helper Cheesy Nacho Dinner Kit
1 serving (1 cup…who eats 1 cup??)
Calories 340 / Calories from Fat 140
Same procedure as the package. Brown the beef,
but with onion, jalapeno and garlic.

Amount Per Serving, prepared         Daily %
Total Fat ...................................................15g (23%)
    Saturated Fat.......................................5g (27%)
    Trans Fat..............................................2g
Cholesterol..............................................55mg (19%)
Sodium.....................................................810mg (34%)
Potassium................................................490mg (14%)
Total Carbohydrate................................31g (10%)
Dietary Fiber...........................................1g (5%)

So if I read that correctly – and I eat my usual 2+ cups – I am getting only 10% of my daily dietary fibre, but almost 70% of my daily sodium. Be still, my beating heart – literally. (There was more on the list, like vitamins, calcium and iron.)

When you look at the full list, at least it has some calcium (8%) and iron (10%). But both of those are in milk and beef, two ingredients that aren’t included in the packaging.

Now on to the package ingredients (are you ready?):
Enriched Macaroni (Durum Semolina, Durum Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate [Iron], Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Corn Starch, Whey, Salt, Maltodextrin, Dried Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Dried Tomato, Dried Red Bell Peppers, Enriched Four (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Nonfat Milk, Dried Chili Pepper, Dried Onion, Dried Corn Syrup, Monosodium Glutamate, Dextrose, Dried Garlic, Disodium Phosphate, Dried Blue Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Spice, Mono and Diglycerides, Citric Acid, Sodium Caseinate, Natural Flavours, Yellows 5&6, Soy Flour, Egg.

Cook the beef and pasta in milk...
Pre-packaged/prepared foods are notoriously bad for us, almost always being too high in fat, sodium, unpronounceable ingredients or preservatives, or all four at once.

All food ingredients are listed from start to finish by amount included. The further down the list the less there is. There's less egg than Yellow food dye. There's also more salt than dried cheddar cheese. That's just wrong.

There’s got to be a way to enjoy the taste without upping your blood pressure off the charts. Well, I’m not saying that this recipe is super healthy, but it’s GOT to be better. It’s got real things in it.

This recipe has beef, milk, cheese, vegetables and spices. Even the store-purchased rotini only had durum wheat, some vitamins and water.

I’m glad that I learned how to make this. The taste is a little more “real” but pretty darned close to the package to still be my guilty pleasure. It’s probably close enough to satisfy even picky children.

As far a time, this takes precious little more than it does when you use the package. This is better for you than the packaged, for sure, and every bit as good.

Homemade Nacho Hamburger “Helper”
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 20 min  |  Serves 
Add some soft and creamy cheese, like homemade
processed or Velveeta.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef (454 g)
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 lb rotini  (250 g)
2-1/2 cups milk (plus more, see below)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp chili powder
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
2 cups grated processed cheese (homemade* or Velveeta)

Heat the oil in a wide, deep sauté pan. Add the onion, garlic and half of the jalapeno. Sauté for about 1 minute. Then add the beef, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.

After the beef is no longer pink, add the rotini and toss well. then add the milk, sugar, chilli powder (I used chipotle), cumin salt and paprika.

Mix well and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cover. Cook for the recommended time on the pasta package. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick.

Once the pasta is cooked stir in the cheese until it has melted. If desired, add a little more milk to thin the sauce.

Taste for spices and adjust. Add the remaining chopped jalapeno, sit in to the pasta and serve.

* To see how easy it is to make your own processed cheese from real cheese, look here.


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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recipe: Lobster Gnocchi in Whisky Cream Sauce

The truth is that life is delicious, horrible, charming, frightful, sweet, bitter, and that is everything. – Anatole France 
Fluffy gnocchi in a frighteningly delicious sauce.
Oh, my.

That’s what actually came out of my mouth after the first taste of this dish. If you like lobster you’re going to LOVE this.

Gnocchi before kneading.
Picture a delicate lobster sauce with sauteed onions, mushrooms and hints of garlic. Then imagine that sauce enveloping light, creamy gnocchi…that just happen to be pan fried to a light golden brown.

Heaven, right? Sometimes my food is really good (not all the time), but then every once in a while I knock one out of the park. This night was one. Wow.

Lobster isn’t common in my repertoire. I really enjoy it, but it’s usually too expensive. I couldn’t believe my eyes the other day when one of our local groceries was selling frozen lobster tails at a deep discount. I had to grab a couple packages. I had to.

When lobster's on sale this recipe is quite affordable as a meal for four. Off and on you can get a bargain direct from lobster fishers, too. They frequent busy places around the province and sell for less than the groceries or fish shops. The other main ingredient – potatoes – are cheap as dirt.

This one’s definitely a sunday dinner kind of thing. It’s…involved. I usually cook more complex things when I’m stressed. The house sale business is really starting to bum me out and it’s being reflected in my cooking: lemon pull apart bread, baguettes, Greek pastry, etc., etc. I guess being busy in the kitchen calms my mind.

Individual gnocchi. Pillow form. I know, it's cheating.
Gnocchi really aren’t that difficult and can actually be made ahead and frozen. That may be something to remember. Making them will eat up an hour no problem.

Cooking the gnocchi only takes a few minutes per batch. I “gilded the lily” by pan frying them in a little olive oil. It’s optional.

The sauce itself is really quite quick. It only takes the time to fry the mushrooms, reduce cream and whisky and throw in the lobster. Don’t worry. The whisky is only a subtle flavour. Anyone eating this would be hard pressed to know it’s there – but its absence would really make a difference.

This is rich, filling stuff. Of that there is no doubt. It is also one of the best meals I have prepared in a while.

Make this for someone special. Seriously. Make this.

The gnocchi are done after they float in the boiling water
for about 1-2 minutes.
Lobster Gnocchi in Whisky Cream Sauce
Time: 2 hours  |  Cook: 20-25 min  |  Serves 4
2 lbs starchy potatoes, like russet
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup white flour , give or take

1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced
200 g white mushrooms, sliced
1-1/2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup whisky
1-1/2 lbs fresh lobster meat
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
salt, as desired
grated parmesan cheese

Yes, there are six tails, but they were quite small.
The gnocchi
Boil unpeeled potatoes in salted water until tender, about 30 minutes.

Let them cool slightly and then remove the skins. Break up the potatoes either with a ricer or a fork. Ensure there are no lumps.

Once the potatoes have cooled slightly (enough not to cook the egg), stir in the salt and egg. Mix well until the egg is completely incorporated.

Add 3/4 cup of flour and stir in with a fork. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead. Add more flour as required to make a soft dough that is barely no longer sticky. Too much flour will make the gnocchi tough.

Divide the dough in four and roll each out into a long cylinder. Cut individual gnocchi and toss well with flour. At this point they can be frozen until ready to use. (Freeze them in one layer. They’ll stick together if in a pile.)

Make this for guests – or a date. It's impressive.
When ready to cook, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi in batches. Once they begin to float, let them cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Then remove with a slotted spoon. If desired fry in batches in a little olive oil. This step is optional.

The sauce
In a deep, wide sauté pan heat the 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms reduce in volume and brown slightly.

Add the cream and whisky and cook until reduced to 2/3 the original volume. Then add in the lobster and allow the sauce to reduce to half its original volume. Add the pepper and taste for salt. Adjust if desired.

Take the cooked gnocchi and add to the sauce. Toss well to coat and let them heat through.

Serve in bowls with some grated parmesan cheese.


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Monday, September 24, 2012

Recipe: Easy Greek-style Pastry

The fine arts are five in number, namely: painting, sculpture, poetry, music, and architecture, the principal branch of the latter being pastry. – Antonin Carême

Look at all the layers. Amazing.

It’s amazing – when you stumble across a new piece of information it seems to then pop up everywhere. This is true of autoloysis. I spoke about it in my baguette post two days ago. It made some stunning bread.

Just before kneading.
Essentially, autolysis in dough-making is the mixing of water and flour and letting it sit. The enzymes in the wheat are activated and begin the process of developing the gluten strands. 

For bread, this turned out to be a really good thing. 

But this is pastry. Very “flaky” pastry, and the technique – which I didn't know the name of three days ago – improves the end result. I put flaky in quotation marks because this isn’t flaky like pie pastry. In pie dough little bits of shortening or butter are distributed in the flour and make the individual flakes.

This dough is flaky like phyllo, but shaped in a block, not individual sheets.

Kneaded and ready to rest.
I am of the opinion that the resting made it far easier to roll out extremely thin sheets of dough without breaking or tearing. Let me explain how it’s made. 

The flour and water is allowed to rest and then divided into four pieces. Each piece is rolled out as thin as you can possibly get it. It's far more pliable because of the autolysis action. Softened butter is then slathered (no other word for it…) on each sheet and it is then folded up. 

That "envelope" of dough gets put in the centre of the next piece of rolled, buttered dough and folded inside. This is repeated for all four pieces. So you have many, many layers of dough separated by many, many layers of butter.

What you get in the end is sort of a “puff” pastry but not with all the gnashing of teeth that accompanies cold butter being beaten into submission. Mind you, the end result is not quite as tender. 

Divided and ready to roll.
This dough is more for delicacies like Spanakopita or cheese pie where flaky yet a little more substantial is required. But I’m not saying this is “tough”.

A note: the thinner you roll the individual sheets the flakier and more tender your end result will be. It takes a little elbow grease but well worth the final result. Roll, roll, roll!!

It can be used for pastry if you wish. I made an apple braid (photo at top). Just be prepared for something a little more sturdy than a flaky pie crust.

It’s quite stunning to look at and pride-inducing to think you made all those separate layers of dough.

This is not a quick technique but well worth the (minimal) effort. It took me 1/2 hour to roll and fold all the dough together. But look at the picture at the top of the post. Don’t you think it’s worth it to say “I did that”!

Roll the first sheet out, cover with butter and fold as
directed in the recipe.
Easy Greek-style Pastry
Time: 1 hour  |  Refrigerate: min 3 hours before use
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or more, softened

Place the flour, baking powder and water in a bowl. Mix together and then knead until you have a fairly smooth ball, about 5 minutes.

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

After the 30 minutes you will see the dough has relaxed somewhat. Cut into four equal pieces.

Using a little four as possible, roll each piece out into a square about 16” x 10” (if you can). Roll it as thin as you can reasonably get it.

The result of the first folding.
Take 1/4 of the butter and cover the face of the pastry. Starting on the long edge, fold it in thirds, like a letter. 

Butter the face of the dough and then fold in thirds again. The end result is a rectangle of multilayered dough.

Do the same with the remaining dough, except before folding place the already folded dough in the centre and fold up around it.

When you’re done you’ll have a block of dough that looks like store-purchased puff pastry.

Cover in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator until ready to use, substituting this dough for that in your recipe.

Roll out the second sheet, butter and place the first square of dough
on it. Then fold the dough around it.
Repeat with each piece of dough until you have rolled, buttered and wrapped each piece.
The dough is ready to be refrigerated.

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