Saturday, December 10, 2011
Puff Pastry Shell Recipes
I have been blessed and honored in my life to be one of those people who thought about opening their own business at a late age and actually took the plunge. At the time I was working for family; it was an incredibly good job. I was well paid, had good benefits and loved the people I worked with. So why would I leave all of that you ask? It’s one of those nagging thoughts that say to you: if you don’t do it now, will you wonder for the rest of your life if you could have done it.
It actually began with the fact that I had created some really good sauces and marinades that I gave out one year in little gift baskets to family and friends. Most all of them encouraged me to try and bring my sauces to the masses. And there the next chapter in my life began. After much deliberation and research I decided that I was ready to take the risk. To make a long story short, I developed a whole line of sauces which I thought I could produce from my home. Upon further research and connection with state regulations I was told I must produce them from a commercial kitchen.
So, with that began a search for property, etcetera, and etcetera. Knowing that the sauces and marinades would not be self supporting, I opened a combination store and foods to go restaurant in my home town. It was during that time that I took my home style cooking skills and my creativity to another level. I began experimenting with ingredients and using my new found creativity to make more “upscale” recipes. So on Friday nights I would prepare dishes that reflected those that you would get at any moderately priced restaurants in the area.
One of the largest papers in our state actually wrote up an article about my establishment and included the dinners that were coming out of this one man band chef. It was during that time of owning my business that I discovered my love of and the many uses for frozen puff pastry shells.
The first recipe is: seafood in a puff pastry bowl recipe. The bowl is the baked puff pastry shell. Puff pastry shells are found in the frozen food section of your grocery store. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for baking the shells. You can adapt this recipe using any shellfish you like; whether it is lobster, shrimp or crab. I have to begin by telling you how to make a good, quick and easy seafood stock.
For the seafood stock: I always save the shells from shrimp. The same would hold true if you steamed lobsters – save the shells. Store them in a plastic container or freezer bag and take them out whenever you need to make a seafood stock. Put the shells in a pot, cover with water and add some salt. Add in whole black peppercorns, a few bay leaves and let this simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes. I have found that if you ladle the finished stock into muffin tins and freeze, you can then take each individual frozen portion and put into freezer bags. When you need stock, simply take out as many as you need.
Seafood in a Puff Pastry Bowl:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan and add in 2 finely chopped shallots. Cook the shallots until softened. Deglaze the pan with ½ cup of white wine (any kind that you prefer) and over moderate heat reduce by half. Add in ½ cup of prepared stock and cook until that is reduced by half. Add in 1 pound of shelled and deveined uncooked shrimp, salt and pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon of paprika and a few pinches of cayenne pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes. Finish the sauce with about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Stir and add some freshly chopped parsley and serve in the puff pastry shells.
This next recipe is similar to Spanikopita, but instead of Phyllo dough, you’ll put the mixture in the puff pastry shells. This recipe uses white wine, so choose a white wine that you like to drink. I use a sweeter white wine, versus a drier one; however, it is your choice. Whatever you do, do not use the wine on the grocery store shelves. I don’t know what they are, but they are not good for cooking. Always choose wines that you like to drink when a recipe calls for wine. If you’re not a wine drinker, ask the people at your local liquor/wine store what would be best to go with the dish you are making.
Puff Pastry Shells – Spanikopita Style
1 box of frozen puff pastry shells
3 boxes of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
½ lb. Feta Cheese, crumbled
2 shallots finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ cup of white wine
Olive Oil and Salt and pepper to taste
Bake the puff pastry shells according to manufacturer’s directions.
To a sauté pan add enough olive oil to coat the pan – approximately 1 tablespoon. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes until the shallots begin to soften. Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup of white wine and allow the wine to cook down – about 2-3 minutes over medium high heat. Reduce the heat and add in the spinach and feta cheese. Cook until the mixture is hot and spoon into the baked Puff Pastry Shells.