Thursday, May 13, 2010

Green and White Asparagus In Puff Paste With Mustard Baked Tofu

...and saffron aspic, because I thought that would make it look more festive. I don't know about you, but come Thursday night, I like a little festive around here.

Looks just like the magazine photo, except for the lobster...and expensive silver.
Here's the January 1972 cover. That's a really nice scenic vista there. Sure is.

They'll pry my rolling pin from my cold, dead, hands. The idea came from another vintage Gourmet magazine (January, 1972). I substituted the lobster filling with tofu and asparagus-obvious, I know. As simple as last weeks "quick puff paste" was, this wasn't really that much more difficult. It was time consuming, sure, but the actual hands-on time is a couple turns every hour. That wasn't bad. I was home doing laundry, teaching Colonial American History, and other assorted chores-a few turns of pastry now and then didn't really interfere with my day.

Completely off topic-I'm drinking a really enjoyable cheap red wine called Little Penguin. For a few dollars, I really have to say this is the most inoffensive wine I've had in a long time. I haven't tried that many Australian wines (Mr. ETB used to like something called, "Long Flat Red") but for the price range, this really is pretty decent.

Back on topic-this is a really long recipe. I'm going to post the puff paste directions verbatim from Gourmet because it worked so well. The tofu, vegetables and sauce recipes will follow.

For the puff paste:

In a large bowl, sift together 2 cups flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Rub in 2 tablespoons sweet butter until it resembles meal. Add a scant 1/2 cup ice water and incorporate it into the dough. Work the mixture for a few seconds to combine, then form into a ball. Dust the ball with flour. With a knife, cut a deep cross into the centre of the ball and push each quarter outward to form a 4 inch square. Pat the dough smooth, wrap it in plastic, and chill it.

Let 3/4 cup sweet butter soften slightly. Knead the butter, squeezing it through the fingers and form it into a rough square. Put it between 2 pieces of wax paper and roll it lightly to form a 4 inch square. Remove the wax paper, dust again with flour and wrap in a clean piece of wax paper. Chill until it is firm, but not hard.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 7 inch square. Lay the chilled butter diagonally in the centre and roll out the visible 4 corners into 4 inch lengths. Fold each strip of dough over the butter completely enclosing it, and turn the dough over. Sprinkle the working surface with flour and turn the dough over. Roll to a rectangle about 10 inches long and 6 inches wide. Brush off excess flour and fold the top third over the centre and the bottom third over the top. Turn the folded dough on the board so that an open side is facing you. With the rolling pin, flatten the dough with uniform impressions. Roll the dough away from you to within 1/2 inch of the end. Reverse the strip on the board, flouring as necessary, and again roll away from you to make a rectangle 10 inches long. Do not roll the pin over the ends or the butter will be expelled. Brush off excess flour and fold in three as before. This completes 2 "turns". Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, chill it 30 minutes. Make 2 more turns always starting with the open end toward you. Wrap the paste and chill for at least 30 minutes before using, or up to 2 days. The paste will be given an additional 2 turns before using in the recipe.

For the Tofu:

Squeeze dry a block of extra firm tofu. Slice in 4 parts, and again press dry between towels. Mix together 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, a splash of white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, and 2 tablespoons honey. Spread some in the bottom of a baking dish and arrange the tofu slices. Spread the rest on top. Bake in a 400 degree F. oven for 30 minutes. Turn, and bake another 30. It may take as long as another 30 minutes, but keep baking until firm and dark in colour. Cool, keep chilled tightly wrapped for up to two days.

For the asparagus:

I used half white, and half green bunches reserving the rest for another use. Do as you like. Trim and scrape the stems of the asparagus and steam until tender. Chill. Cut into bite size pieces and combine in a bowl with tofu cut into bite sized pieces. I used about half of the tofu batch also-save the other two pieces for sandwiches.

For the sauce:

3 cups veggie broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour (I used Wondra)
Pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream

Make a roux by melting butter over medium heat and adding the flour. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until the roux foams (about 3 minutes). Slowly whisk in the broth and cook until it comes to a boil and thickens. It should reduce to about 2 1/2 cups. Add the cream and again bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, whisking until it reduces again to about 2 1/2 cups. Stir in tofu and asparagus.

To Bake the pastry:

Lightly moisten a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Give the puff paste an additional 2 turns. Cut dough in 2 pieces. Roll out 1 piece to an 8 inch round about 1/4 inch thick. Place on the baking sheet. Roll out the second piece to an 8 inch round about 1/2 inch thick. This time, cut a 7 inch round from the centre leaving a 1 inch round border. Remove the 7 inch circle and place on the baking sheet alongside the first. Wet the edge of the first round lightly and place the 1 inch round lightly atop it. With the blunt side of a knife held at an angle, flute the edge all around. With a fork, prick the bottom of the shell at 1/4 inch intervals. Chill the dough for 1 hour.

Make a wash with 1 egg and 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Brush it on the top of the 7 inch circle and the top rim of the other. With a blunt edge of a knife, score the top rim of the shell at 1/2 inch intervals and score the top of the 7 inch circle in a crosshatch. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and bake another 35 minutes until dough is golden and baked through. Remove top to a rack to cool. With a knife, cut out the centre of the shell and discard. Remove any unbaked bits and then return to a slow oven (300 degrees F.) for another fifteen minutes to dry out. At this point, you should make the sauce and filling. If it is done before the sauce, remove it to a rack before transferring it to a platter and filling.

Serve with greens and optional aspic. OK, you probably don't want to make aspic, but my culinary sensibilities are stuck somewhere around 1974 and that's my idea of elegant. I also really like gelatin.

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