I have probably mentioned this before, but Trader Joe's all-butter frozen puff pastry is the answer to a prayer. Sure, anyone can make their own delicious puff pastry, as a certain anapestic frequently reminds us. But a person is not always motivated sufficiently to cover herself and her kitchen in flour. If I only had puff pastry as often as I made it myself, I would be a thinner, but perhaps not so happy woman. And the thing is- I really can't stand the standard Pepperidge Farm frozen stuff from the freezer case at the Iggle.
I actually used to think it was fine. It was the first approximation of puff pastry I'd ever had. And puff pastry is an amazing, brilliant invention, which naturally knocks one's socks off, even in its least lovely form. After a several experiences of the good stuff, from pastry shops and restaurants, that particular ready-made kind of frozen stuff began to taste of oil and chemicals to me. Wishful thinking kept me going with it for a while. But either it's gotten worse, or I'm just pickier. And until the Trader Joe's thing, the only all butter stuff on offer in my part of the USA was incredibly expensive- out of my league- at Williams-Sonoma.
So if you live near a good bakery willing to sell you some of theirs, more power to you. I don't, and I'm therefore especially grateful to the Trader Joe group for bringing this buttery goodness my way. End of uncompensated commercial message.
With this stuff in the freezer, you can make all kinds of yummy special stuff at a moments notice, including one of my very favorite snacks- Shammi's egg puffs. What you see above is a rough approximation of a recipe I saw in an English cooking magazine called "Delicious". With a salad, it would make a nice vegetarian dinner party menu, I think. I actually just made one for me, and have been taking leftovers for lunch, cold. Very french picnic-y, I feel.
To make it you need:
one package (about 450 grams if you are making your own, and shaming me) of all butter puff pastry
a package of prepared hummous (or, you could shame me thoroughly, and make your own)
various cut up veggies for roasting- your choice (I used some very dense cremini mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, shallots, fennel, parboiled, peeled fingerling potatoes, and whole garlic cloves. Sliced onions are a bad idea- they made it hard to cut the pie-too bad, as the red ones taste great roasted)
an egg yolk, beaten with a little milk
chopped fresh cilantro
cumin seed or rosemary
olive oil spray or olive oil
Preheat oven to 425F. Cut the veggies into bit sized pieces- neither too tiny nor too large. You want them fairly chunky, but you also want to be able to cut the pie. Set them on a foil lined baking sheet. Coat thinly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the cumin or rosemary. Meanwhile, if using frozen pastry, take it out to defrost. It should be in two equal sized parts.
Bake the veg until browned and a little crusty, and remove from the oven. (This will take varying amounts of time, depending on the vegs you chose, and your oven. You have to check. I did my whole thing in the convection toaster oven, which is very fast. It is a good idea, when using vegs of varying cooking times, to make the longer cooking kind into smaller pieces- the quicker cooking, chunkier.)
Remove foil and veg, and line the baking sheet with parchment. Set one piece of the pastry down on the parchment, and brush about 1" of the outside edge with the egg mixture. Spread the remainder of the surface with a layer of hummous. If you have some left, mix it in with the roasted vegs. Pile the roasted veg over the hummous, leaving the eggy border bare. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the veg.
With a rolling pin, roll out the second sheet of pastry so that it is just a little bigger and thinner than the covered piece. Carefully set it on top of the veg, and press to seal the pastry edges together. Use your fingers to mold it over the veg, so there are no air pockets. If the top pastry edge overlaps the bottom one , trim the borders to make the top and bottom even. Press all around with a fork, to further seal, and cut 3 diagonal slits on top, using a very sharp knife. Brush top with remainder of egg mixture. This takes about 35 minutes to bake, but watch it. Mine (above) got a little too brown.
You can actually freeze this before baking, defrost and bake when needed. Not bad, but it's better all fresh.