This is going to be the one of the fastest post I’ve written here: I’m giving myself 20 minutes, start to finish. GO!
OK, so that picture above—the one of the beautiful puff pastry?—is from Ina Garten, one of those people I wouldn’t mind being more like. She’s so classy, isn’t she? I love watching her and her husband, Jeffrey (she dedicated at least a couple of her books to him, each time a different way, and I love that, too). They’re like the affluent, educated, good-eating aunt and uncle I wish I had. If Ina were writing this post, she’d probably have something much more interesting to say, unlike me, who, I’m embarrassed to tell you, still (STILL!) has very little else on my mind than the weather. (THE GORGEOUS WEATHER!)
If you’ll permit me: This morning, I drove to work with my windows cracked open, fresh, crisp air whipping inside my little Jetta, and I wore my bright-green spring jacket, not the parka or even my dressy wool coat. Everything was so perfect temperature-wise that I actually left the house early so I could stop at Dunkin’ Donuts and pick up coffee, as a celebration. I’ve decided it’s good to celebrate things like these, which might seem small to other people, just an increase in temperatures and some melting snow, so what? But to me, while I cruised through puddles, Ella Fitzgerald crooning, this was possibly the best day ever.
In the office, where we still haven’t turned on A/C (hello? it’s February?), we had to plug in the upright fan and point it on us while we worked, donning short sleeves and sipping ice water. At lunch, I swear, I was sweating when I got back into my car. The weatherman said it reached 61 degrees today, two short of the record. But let me tell you, walking down my street, you’d never have believed it.
Anyway, while I was driving home tonight (and there was hardly any traffic!), I realized that days like this are the good stuff worth savoring. After all, I’m too eager to tell you when my commute doubles or the snow makes me late. Shouldn’t I rejoice a little when everything’s completely wonderful?
And that brings me to now, when here I am, sitting at the computer, trying to think of what to tell you about the puff pastry, which is really lovely, but all that comes out is weather. What can I say?
I must focus. Here is what you need to know about this pastry: It uses a grocery-store shortcut to eliminate the hardest task (well, the only hard task, I should say). Rather than making your own dough (oh, gosh, remember my pie crust?), you just buy good old Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry. As for the rest of the work: you’ll chop, mix, assemble a little—but largely, you take the golden, flaky creation out of the oven to eat and enjoy.
I think it’s very pretty, which is another plus. But then I am partial to spinach in terms of food appearance. Look at that rich green poking out from inside the dough! Mixed with the Gruyere and Parmesan, infused with the garlic/onion butter, the filling is very creamy and very spinachy, and I mean that in a good way. I also like that it’s from Ina’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook, which, by the way, I picked up at the library on my almost-failure of a day off last week. Eating this, I like to think I’m in France—or at least I did when I made it—Right now, I don’t want to be anywhere but here. After all, I have this weather and this pastry. What else could I want?
Spinach in Puff Pastry
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris
With this pastry, you’ll want to eat it hot out of the oven, if at all possible. You could microwave slices the next day, in your lunch, let’s say, but the dough will get a little gummy, and that’s hardly appetizing. Of course, I’d suppose you could also stick it back in the oven the next day, if you’re more patient than I tend to be and, you know, at home where there’s an oven. If you do, let me know how that turns out, would you?
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic (around 3 cloves)
1 14-ounce bag of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted in refrigerator overnight
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat butter in saute pan and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Meanwhile, squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a bowl. Add the onion mixture, Gruyere, Parmesan, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and pine nuts. Mix well.
Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the spinach mixture in the middle of the pastry, leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the border with the egg wash. Roll out the 2nd sheet of pastry on a floured board until it’s an inch larger in each direction. Place the 2nd sheet of pastry over the spinach and seal the edges, crimping them with a fork. Brush the top with egg wash but don’t let it drip down the sides of the pastry won’t rise. Make three small slits in the pastry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned. Transfer to a cutting board and serve hot.
This can be assembled a day in advance, refrigerated, and baked before serving.
And time! OK, I went over 20 minutes, but not by much, and I hope the post didn’t suffer too much. I’ll give you all more time on the next one. Right now, I have things to go savor.