Kale and Ricotta Spinach Puff Pastries

A pale green plate with 2 Kale and Ricotta Spinach Puff Pastries resting on top of 3 kale leaves.

These delightful little puff pastries look impressive but couldn’t be simpler to make thanks to the wonders of frozen chopped kale and pre-rolled puff pastry sheets. I like to make these whenever an appetizer emergency strikes as I usually have all the ingredients handy (and by appetizer emergency I mean when I realize halfway through a glass of wine that I haven’t eaten all day). I’ve used feta, Boursin, and fresh goat cheese in place of the ricotta, but there’s something about the delicate pillowy texture ricotta that I feel is perfectly copacetic with the rest of the ingredients. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer at the same time as the kale and forget about them for a half or so until they’re both defrosted. If you can’t find frozen chopped kale feel free to use spinach instead (or any other green you can find in the freezer section). I should add that these make excellent cold or reheated leftovers, just brush them with some melted butter and heat in a warm oven for 5-6 minutes.

kale and ricotta spinach puff pastry:

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the fridge or at room temperature

About 250 grams of frozen kale, thawed and squeezed out of all excess moisture

1 clove of minced garlic

1 shallot, finely diced

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

2 eggs

A couple of gratings of fresh nutmeg, or a pinch of dried

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Mix together the thawed and thoroughly drained kale, garlic, shallots, ricotta, salt, pepper, grated nutmeg, and one egg until totally combined. Set aside.
  3. Unroll the puff pastry onto a baking sheet, using the attached parchment paper as a base. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter slice the puff pastry into 9 squares.
  4. Using two spoons evenly distribute the kale mixture into the centre of each square, you might not need the entire mixture (in which case, extras can be used as the base for a super tasty quiche).
  5. Carefully fold the corners of each puff pastry square into the centre and pinch together, it’s okay if you need to stretch the dough a bit to get the corners to stay together.
  6. Whisk the remaining egg and brush onto the puff pastries with a pastry brush. Bake for 25 minutes or until the puff pastries are nicely and lightly browned. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

And just because I saw Slowdive AKA my favourite band of all time just a few weeks ago (although it feels like a million years ago now) I’ve been listening to their latest album with the frequency of a fan obsessed. I think this song is so beautiful, I’m so happy I got to see them play it live. Just some very lovely shimmery shoegaze for a rainy afternoon.

Slowdive – Sugar for the Pill

Creamy Portobello Mushroom Puff Pastry with Pancetta and Smoked Caciocavallo

Sour Cream Mushroom Puff Pastry

I can’t really think of a less summery recipe than buttery puff pastry piled high with meaty portobello mushrooms and then topped with smoky cheese, but up until quite recently Vancouver was asking its regular “is it winter? Is it summer?” questions, my cravings being reflected in the former season rather than the latter. I also have the benefit of my beloved toaster oven, which I use more than my actual stove all year long, meaning that my kitchen doesn’t get hellishly warm when I’m cooking things at 400 degrees. You don’t have to use portobello mushrooms, you can either go for the exotic and use fancy mushrooms or you can dial it right back with white button mushrooms. Regular bacon or even prosciutto can be used instead of pancetta if you prefer, it’s the crispy texture and resonant smokiness that’s important in this recipe. If smoked caciocavallo isn’t familiar or available to you then go right ahead and use smoked mozzarella in its place. Incidentally, if you’re searching for smoked caciocavallo it can often be found with the fancier supermarket cheeses, Cryovaced and in the shape of a rubber ducky – you’ll know it when you see it.

creamy portobello mushroom puff pastry with smoked caciocavallo:

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed and rolled out on parchment paper

1/2 packet of pre-cubed pancetta (about 1/2 cup)

3 portobello mushrooms, dark gills removed

2 shallots, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1/4 full-fat sour cream

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. dried dill

Juice of half a lemon

A generous cup of grated caciocavallo or mozzarella

Fresh parsley, torn into small pieces for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare puff pastry by pricking it all over with a fork, being careful to leave a small border around the edges and trying not to press the fork all the way through the puff pastry. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes while you prepare the mushroom topping.
  2. Cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove pancetta from skillet and set aside.
  3. Chop the portobello mushrooms up into smallish pieces, removing any overly woody stems. Sauté the shallots, garlic, and mushrooms in the bacon fat over medium heat until softened and cooked through. Add the paprika and dill and cook for a couple of minutes longer.
  4. Remove the mushroom topping from the heat and stir in the sour cream and lemon juice.
  5. Bake the puff pastry for 10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden. Remove from the oven and spread out the mushroom topping evenly, right up to the border. Sprinkle with the smoked caciocavallo and return to the oven for another ten minutes, watching carefully to ensure the cheese doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Garnish with the fresh parsley and serve with a crisp green salad. Alternately, serve chilled on  picnic along with seasonal fruit.

Where do I even begin? I’m wrestling with the mother of all depression demons right now, it’s been several weeks of lows so low I can’t touch the bottom. So I listen to a lot of Lemon Jelly because I feel like at least with them, there are no expectations. They’re a gentle push when I feel like I’m swimming against a leaden current, like an encouraging smile in the form of music.

Lemon Jelly – Come

 

 

Mushroom and Taleggio Puff Pastry Tart

tray of mushroom and taleggio puff pastry on an orange back drop

Mushrooms and Taleggio go together like, well, just about any culinary copacetic pairing you can think of. The woodsiness of the cremini mushrooms in this recipe are a natural foil for the fruity notes of the cheese and the rind adds a subtle earthy dimension that just makes the entire final product an entirely worthwhile ordeal. I think that the fresh parsley and basil are important to the recipe, they add a bright lift to some of the heavier tasting ingredients and a delightful contrast in texture. I made this on Sunday with the intention of having leftovers, but my friend Lela and I ate the entire thing and washed it down with a beautiful berry ripe Barbera and limoncello cocktails for dessert. This recipe is perfect cut up into small squares as an addition to brunch and also as an easy supper with a lemon and olive oil dressed salad.

mushroom and taleggio puff pastry tart:

1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly

3 cloves of garlic, minced

5 scallions, green and white parts roughly chopped

Generous glug of olive oil

Kosher or sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

150-200 g Taleggio, torn into small pieces (rind included)

Lots of fresh basil and parsley, snipped with scissors into a tangle of green

I sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Sauté the cremini mushrooms, garlic, and scallions in the olive oil over medium-high heat until the mushrooms are soft and starting to brown. Wait until the last minute of cooking before adding the salt and pepper to prevent the mushrooms from releasing too much liquid. Place the cooked mushroom mixture in a sieve and allow to drain for at least a half hour.

3. Prepare the puff pastry by laying it on a parchment lined baking sheet and pricking holes in the dough with a fork, coming up to about an inch away from the perimeter of the pastry (this ensures that the border of the puff pastry will rise higher than the centre, where the mushrooms will go). Par-bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven. Using a pastry brush, wash the puff pastry with egg.

4. Evenly spread the mushroom mixture over the puff pastry and top with the pieces of Taleggio. Bake for another 15-20 minutes before removing. Cover the mushroom tart with a lavish amount of fresh green herbs and more cracked pepper.

Sometimes you just need to listen to depressing music by The Bee Gees when you’re feeling sad.

The Bee Gees – Nights on Broadway