Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nostalgic Chicken & Leek Puff Pastry Tarts

Once upon a time, Pepperidge Farm sold these frozen, single serving puff pastry tarts with various savory fillings. I had an absolute passion for those things, but since my parents weren't big on buying frozen or convenience foods, I didn't get them nearly as often as I would have liked. They eventually stopped making them, and a Google search came up empty so I can't even share a photo or an advertisement with you here.

Fast forward to a recent snowy evening (if the reader is getting the impression that it does nothing but $#@*% snow here lately, they would be correct), when the freezer contained not only puff pastry, but my very first package of the much-talked-about Beyond Chicken. Being in the mood for a project, I decided to recreate those frozen treats of yesteryear on a more family-friendly scale, and the happy result is below. Now that I've made the "chicken" version, I am definitely moving on to my personal favorite from back in the day: broccoli and cheddar. So watch this space!

Chicken & Leek Puff Pastry Tart
~ 1/3 cup olive oil
~ 1 package Beyond Chicken (or other vegan poultry analogue), chopped into 1/2" pieces
~ 1 large leek (or 2 medium), cleaned and chopped
~ 1 large carrot, diced
~ 1 tsp. each: thyme, sage, mustard powder
~ 1/2 tsp. white pepper
~ Dash mace
~ 2 tbsp. flour
~ 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
~ 2 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 2 tsp. "no chicken" bouillon
~ 1 tsp. prepared English mustard
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 2 cups frozen spinach
~ Two sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
~ Combine the soy milk, bouillon, prepared mustard, and bay leaves. Microwave for about two minutes and mix well.
~ Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
~ When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the cubed Beyond Chicken and fry, turning occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy on all sides.
~ Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate lined with paper towels, and set aside to drain.
~ Remove all but a tbsp. or two of oil from the pan, and return it to medium heat.
~ Add the leeks, carrots, and dried seasonings, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
~ Add the flour, nutritional yeast, and about 1/2 cup of the soy milk mixture; stir to make a roux and continue cooking a minute or so.
~ Remove the bay leaves from the remaining soy milk mixture and begin adding it gradually, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
~ Add the frozen spinach and continue cooking 10 minutes more.
~ Stir in the cooked chicken, mix well, and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
~ Arrange the thawed puff pastry sheets on your parchment-lined baking sheet.
~ Remove the bay leaves from the filling and divide it between the two sheets of puff pastry, spreading it evenly along the lefthand third of each sheet.
~ Fold each sheet over the filling to form an envelope, carefully crimping the edges to form a seal.
~ With a sharp knife, cut a couple of gashes in the top of each tart, and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Tattie Scones

Tattie scones have been on my "to do" list for awhile now, so when my partner requested them on a recent snow day I was happy to oblige. They're a bit like a hybrid of potato pancakes, flour scones, and American biscuits - in all the podgily pleasing ways that suggests - and as such are the perfect addition to a big, lazy brunch or breakfast. I had leftover mashed potatoes on hand, so this recipe came together very quickly, but even if you're starting from scratch it will be under an hour from start to finish, and well worth the minimum effort required.

We had our scones with fried mushrooms and tofu scramble, but next time, I'll add baked beans, veggie sausages, and fried tomatoes to the mix for the Platonic ideal of a cooked breakfast. (NB traditionally, tattie scones are scored and cut into quarters after cooking. I didn't bother and served them as is, but you can obviously suit yourself. The only non-negotiable part of this picture is a mug of strong, hot tea - and none of your faffie Darjeelings and Earl Greys, either!)

Tattie Scones
~ 1 cup all purpose flour, divided
~ 1 tsp. baking powder
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ A few grinds black pepper
~ 2 cups mashed potatoes
~ 1 tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan margarine, melted

~ Preheat the oven to 200 degrees fahrenheit and place an oven-safe plate inside.
~ In a large bowl, sift 3/4 cup of the flour with the baking powder, salt, and pepper.
~ Add the mashed potato and melted margarine and mix to make a stiff dough.
~ Sprinkle the remaining flour over your counter or cutting board, and roll the dough out to about 1/4" thickness, sprinkling a little more on top if it seems sticky.
~ Using a biscuit cutter or the floured rim of a large-mouthed glass, cut the dough into rounds, prick the tops with a fork, and place them on a sheet of parchment paper. (I got 10 scones from this recipe, but your mileage may vary.)
~ Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat it with a light film of cooking spray.
~ Cook the scones for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown, transferring them to the plate in your warm oven as they are finished. Once they are all cooked, serve immediately.