Jumbo Cream Puffs

© Katherine Stetson

Nothing brings on a smile the way a cream puff can!  Fill puffs with combinations of pudding and whipped cream or whipped cream mixed with fresh fruit.

For a savory version, fill cases with chicken, seafood or ham salad or with scrambled eggs and fresh herbs.  The sky’s the limit for fillings.

Makes nine cream puffs.

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • confectioners sugar (for dusting on top of the finished puff)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, milk and water and bring to a full boil.  Remove pan from heat and immediately pour in flour and salt.  Stir briskly until mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Pour contents into a mixing bowl.

Add eggs, one at a time and stir until completely incorporated.  This is a vigorous exercise when done by hand, or use a stand mixer at low speed.

Using two soup spoons, drop batter onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, allowing two inches space between each puff.  Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown.  Remove baking sheet from oven and make a small slit in the side of each puff to allow steam to escape.  Turn off the oven and return puffs to the oven for an additional ten minutes.

Cool completely on a wire rack and then fill as desired with a sprinkling of confectioners sugar on top.  Note: filled puffs can become soggy over time, so only fill the ones that will be consumed immediately.

Tiny Pecan Tarts with Vanilla Chantilly

© Katherine Stetson

A divine celebration of nutty, buttery flavor made more so when topped with vanilla chantilly.

Makes 24 tarts.

For the pastry:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine pastry ingredients and process and pulse until dough forms a ball.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and use your fingers to gently pat the dough into mini tart shells or mini muffin tins.  Set aside.

For the filling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thoroughly blend all filling ingredients, except pecans.  Fold in pecans.  Divide mixture between pastry shells and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Cool tarts on a rack.  When ready to serve, top each tart with a dollop of vanilla chantilly.

For the vanilla chantilly:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip cream until soft peaks form.  Add sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until cream is firm.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Buttermilk Shortcake Biscuits

© Katherine Stetson

A very flavorful biscuit, ideal for strawberry shortcake or chicken ‘n biscuits.

Makes ten 3” biscuits:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly to mix.  Cube stick of butter into 10 pieces and add to flour mixture.  Pulse 8-10 times or until butter has been cut into very small pieces.  Add buttermilk and process just until dough is evenly moistened.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead briefly.  Roll out to a thickness of ½ inch and cut out biscuits with a 3” cutter.  Bake for 15 minutes, rotating sheet pan half way through cooking time.

Slovensko-Americansko Sausage Turnovers

© Katherine Stetson

For 8-10 turnovers:

For the dough:

  • 2 ¼ cups unbleached flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup iced water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound smoked sausage or Kielbasa, crumbled
  • ½ cup shredded Jack cheese

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine flour, salt and butter and pulse until mixture resembles course sand.  Add the egg, vinegar and iced water and continue to pulse until dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Pour contents onto a lightly floured board and knead lightly into a smooth ball.  Flatten dough and wrap in plastic wrap.  Allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Prepare the filling:

In a large skillet, heat oil and sauté onions until tender and lightly caramelized.  Add the sausage and mix well.  Remove mixture to a medium and cool complexly.  Combine meat mixture and cheese.

Assemble turnovers:

Preheat oven to 400.  Divide dough into two equal pieces.  Roll out dough to 1/8th inch thickness and cut out 6-inch circles (or other desired shape).  Place several spoons of filling into center of dough and fold over, crimping edges tightly.  Reseat turnover so that the seam is facing upward and brush lightly with egg wash.  Bake turnovers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 25 minutes or until nicely browned.  Cool briefly on a rack and serve immediately.

Chicken, Zucchini and Feta Danish

© Katherine Stetson

A fun remake of a favorite breakfast pastry!

For four pastries:

  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, diced
  • ½ cup feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • all purpose flour, for dusting pastry
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water, for pastry glaze

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium skillet heat olive oil and butter and add onion and zucchini and cook until tender.  Remove from heat and gently stir in sour cream, chicken, feta and dill.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Lay a square of parchment or wax paper on the counter and sprinkle lightly with flour. Unfold the puff pastry and place on the paper. Lightly sprinkle the top with flour and gently roll with a rolling pin to remove creases. Cut pastry into four even squares and separate slightly to allow room for building the Danish.

Brush edges of each square with the egg glaze. Place one-fourth of the chicken mixture in the center of each square and spread it slightly so that it almost reaches opposite corners.  Fold in one corner over filling and brush with egg glaze. Fold in and overlap opposite corner by one inch and press gently to seal. Brush topside of pastry with egg glaze and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until nicely golden, rotating sheet pan halfway through baking time. Best served immediately or reheat in a 350 degrees oven for 10 minutes.

Pesto Palmiers

© Katherine Stetson

These reheat beautifully in a hot oven for 4-5 minutes.

For the Basil-Walnut Pesto:

  • 2 cups basil leaves, packed
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse basil with walnuts until finely chopped.  Add Parmesan and garlic and process until smooth.  With machine running, slowly pour in olive oil.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Spoon pesto into a container and float some additional olive oil on top.  Cover tightly and refrigerate.

For the Palmiers:

  • one sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed
  • fresh pesto
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat Oven to 425 degrees.

On a lightly floured counter, roll out puff pastry to approximately 12 inches by 12 inches.  Spread a light coat of pesto over the surface of the dough.  Carefully roll the bottom edge upwards to the center.  Repeat with the other side.  Slice into 1/3 inch pieces and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bush pastries lightly with melted butter and sprinkle on the grated Parmesan.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown, rotating sheet pan half way through baking time.

Cool on a rack briefly and serve warm.

Orange Marmalade and Almond Cheese Danish

© Katherine Stetson
  • 4 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • all purpose flour, for dusting pastry
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water, for pastry glaze

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, ricotta cheese, sugar, vanilla and sea salt and mix well.  Set aside.

In a small ramekin, whisk together egg yolk and water.  Set aside.

Lay a square of parchment or wax paper on the counter and sprinkle lightly with flour.  Unfold the puff pastry and place on the paper.  Lightly sprinkle the top with flour and gently roll with a rolling pin to remove creases.  Cut pastry into four even squares and separate slightly to allow room for building the Danish.

Brush edges of each square with the egg glaze.  Place one-fourth of the cheese mixture in the center of each square and spread it slightly so that it almost reaches opposite corners.  Top cheese with 1 tablespoon orange marmalade and 1 tablespoon almonds.  Fold in one corner over filling and brush with egg glaze.  Fold in and overlap opposite corner by one inch and press gently to seal.  Brush topside of pastry with egg glaze and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until nicely golden, rotating sheet pan halfway through baking time.  Best served immediately or reheat in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Blueberry Cheese Danish

© Katherine Stetson
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • all purpose flour, for dusting pastry
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water, for pastry glaze

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, ricotta cheese, sugar, vanilla and sea salt and mix well.  Set aside.

In a small ramekin, whisk together egg yolk and water.  Set aside.

Lay a square of parchment or wax paper on the counter and sprinkle lightly with flour.  Unfold the puff pastry and place on the paper.  Lightly sprinkle the top with flour and gently roll with a rolling pin to remove creases.  Cut pastry into four even squares and separate slightly to allow room for building the Danish.

Brush edges of each square with the egg glaze.  Place one-fourth of the cheese mixture in the center of each square and spread it slightly so that it almost reaches opposite corners.  Top cheese with ¼ cup blueberries, evenly distributed.  Fold in one corner over filling and brush with egg glaze.  Fold in and overlap opposite corner by one inch and press gently to seal.  Brush topside of pastry with egg glaze and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until nicely golden, rotating sheet pan halfway through baking time.  Best served immediately or reheated in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.