Monday, October 15, 2007

A Work in Progress: Roasted vegetables en croute

The real cook will test and retest, work on a recipe until it's just right, and only then present it to the world. But I'm not a real cook. I want to share the steps along the way to the finished product. The trials that maybe aren't perfect.

I read a review of a restaurant recently that noted one of the specialities: roasted vegetables and cheese layered on top of an olive tapenade, wrapped in a flaky puff pastry. I thought I could come up with my own version. This is my first try. I'll describe what I did, how it came out, what I learned. If you have comments or suggestions I'd love to hear them!

I used:

puff pastry - frozen
vegetables: in this case carrots, onions, zucchini, portabello mushrooms, green bell pepper
olive oil for roasting veggies
seasonings for veggies: rosemary, parsley, oregano
tapenade: in this case green olive

First, I roasted the veggies. I cut them into strips, placed them in a casserole dish along with sprinklings of olive oil and the seasonings, and covered the dish. I roasted them in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. When it looked like they were about done, I took off the casserole top and let the veggies brown up a bit and let the steam escape, about ten minutes.

Wonderful alternative: Trader Joe's (and some other markets) offers roasted vegetables in a package, all ready for you!

I just guessed at amounts. I think, though, that the total bulk of one bell pepper, two carrots, two largish portabellos, and a medium onion is about right for this dish. More on that later.

When roasted my veggies looked like this:

When done, I let them sit a while to cool down.

After I put the veggies in the oven I took out the puff pastry to defrost. I took one sheet out of the package.

When it was defrosted (40 minutes) I rolled it out a bit.

I fit the pastry into my pan, having determined how much to roll it out by how large the pan was.

Then I started layering. I used up what was left in my jar of tapenade.

It is spread rather thinly there. Then I attempted to layer by color:

Some veggies did not cover.

I finished with the scrapings of onion and bits.

I folded one side of the crust over and the other on top of that, and pinched it to the side. On top, then, were two layers of puff pastry.

I baked it at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until puffed and golden.

I let it cool a little and then sliced into it.

Not bad but there were issues. Here is what I learned:

* Use more tapenade, make a real layer of it. I couldn't even taste it.
* Cut the veggies into smaller pieces and cook enough of each color to make a full layer. When I bit into my piece it was not as neat as we might like. I think smaller pieces would make it more layered, it would look more elegant, and it would "eat better".
* Don't overlap the crust. I found that two layers had some trouble. Both did not puff fully.
* Use a cookie sheet or other large pan with lips (to catch any spills or oil). I think this will allow it to blossom and will take full advantage of all of the pastry.

I also believe that this is the type dish that does well served at room temperature, could be made in little packets rather than in one big layered dish, and could even be the basis for an alternative Cornish pasty. I want to explore those alternatives in the future, and when I do you'll be sure to hear about it.


Marney said...

Interesting... wonder why you chose puff pastry. Traditional "en croute" recipes seem to call for shortcrust, by and large. Maybe there would be less problem with the overlap in that case.

Judith said...

Hi Marney,

I used puff pastry because I am finding "convenient" ways to make things. Grabbing something from the freezer is one way.

Anonymous said...

I think you should just stick to ordering take out.

JohnC said...

Hey, you just keep on cooking - trial and error is the best way to learn. If it tastes good great if not try again by adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that.