Friday, March 9, 2012

Mustard Batons

Mustard Batons

As a prequel to the Savannah banana pie that I served for dessert on The Gastronomer's recent birthday, I prepared a four-course meal from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table.  Greenspan's cookbooks are an internet sensation, but I chose her book of French-inspired recipes for this important cooking project mostly because of how much I enjoyed beggar's linguine, the first recipe that The Gastronomer prepared from Around My French Table earlier this year. Mustard batons were an obvious choice for an appetizer because The Gastronomer had just made a large quantity of gourmet mustard from scratch.  Plus there is nothing that makes me feel more at home in the kitchen than a recipe that requires one to make precise measurements with a ruler.  This is also a perfect recipe to serve as a hors d'oeuvre preceding a multi-course meal because the batons can be prepared ahead of time and frozen, then baked at the last minute.

Although the recipe couldn't be simpler, I found forming the batons to be a little tricky because I had to roll the puff pastry very thin in order to make a rectangle of the suggested dimensions. This led to some breakage when folding the dough in half.  It didn't help that my puff pastry sheet had been hanging out in the freezer a year or so too long and had some crusty corners.  However, The Gastronomer believes there is nothing more noble than using up old ingredients rather than letting them go to waste, so I knew she would appreciate my efforts.  I threw away the bad parts and proceeded with a smaller batch of batons, and the results were quite appealing.  The Gastronomer loved them, although how could she have not when they were made with her mustard?

Recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry (each about 8 1/2 ounces), thawed
  • All-purpose flour, for rolling
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard [or other mustard]
  • 1 large egg
  • Poppy seeds, for topping (optional)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  Have a ruler and a pizza cutter (or sharp knife) at hand.

Working with one sheet of pastry at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until you have a rectangle that's about 12 x 16 inches.  If necessary, turn the dough so that a short side of the rectangle is closest to you.  Measure the length so that you can find the middle, and spread 1/4 cup of the mustard over the lower half of the dough, stopping about 1/8 inch from the side and bottom edges.  Fold the top portion of the dough over the bottom and cut the pastry from top to bottom into strips about 1 inch wide, then cut the strips crosswise in half (if you prefer, you can leave the strips long).  Carefully transfer the batons to one of the baking sheets and chill or freeze them while you work on the second batch (you can make all the strips to this point and freeze them on baking sheets, then pack them airtight and keep them frozen for up to two months).

Lightly beat the egg with a splash of cold water and brush just the tops of the strips with this glaze.  If you'd like, sprinkle them with poppy seeds.  Bake the batons for 8 minutes.  Rotate the sheet from front to back and top to bottom and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes, or until the strips are puffed and golden brown.  Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the batons rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

Yield: 40 batons
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: Not Given
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 45 minutes
Substitutions: I only made a half a batch (using a single sheet of puff pastry)--I recommend this if you're only serving a small number of people, since the batons are best when they're still warm and crisp from the oven.

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