Is it cold where you are?
Here in Salem, MA, it’s fr-eeeee-zing. Like, freezing freezing. I think we hit 8 degrees last week.
Let me tell you…weather like this makes me want to do one thing, and one thing alone: Cook.
(And winter is the season for feasting, after all, right?)
How do you entertain?
The last few years, I’ve thrown fewer and fewer formal parties. I’ve had my fill with fussy and formal. And while fancy dinners definitely have their place, I find myself doing a lot more impromptu entertaining lately.
You know how it goes. Friends stop by, we get to talking in the kitchen, and before we know it, a few minutes turns into a few hours.
As a result, we keep our freezer and fridge stocked with lots of stuff that makes it easy to whip out a nice spread in no time. Cheese, olives, crackers, pickled veggies, salami, cold beer…you get the idea.
(Want to stop by? The kitchen is open most days after 7!)
Puff pastry is definitely one of those indispensable things on my list of pantry staples. Grab a package or two, pop ’em in the freezer, then forget about ’em until you need to feed folks in a flash.
It’s really versatile. I use it to make tarts. I use it to wrap fish and shrimp.
Hands down, though, this turnover recipe is one of my favorite new uses for the stuff.
These little guys are freezer friendly
Make these in advance, wrap them well, and freeze them. They’ll keep happily for about 3 months.
When you’re ready to make them, pop them right from freezer to a 400-degree oven, and you’ll have hot treats in just about 20 minutes.
So, what’s in them?
These turnovers are stuffed with a sweet and savory filling made with tart apples, salty bacon, and sharp cheddar cheese. I could eat the tangy apple & onion filling by itself with a spoon. (Did I just say that out loud?)
The whole business is fragrant with autumn spices (think cinnamon, clove, and cardamom) and sweet maple syrup.
They’d make a perfect addition to a Sunday brunchâ€”or a great late-night snack after a good movie.
Thank you, Pepperidge Farm!
So, recently, Pepperidge Farm hired me to do a little recipe development for them. I’m never one to shy away from a challenge, especially when it involves ingredients I use all the time anyways, like their puff pastry.
You know, this stuff.
You can find it in the freezer aisle of almost any big grocery store. Look for it by the frozen berries and pie crusts.
The good folks at Pepperidge Farm were even kind enough to test my recipe and even do a celebrity photo shoot! (Oooh la la, right?) Take a peek at my recipe on their website.
So let’s whip up a batch, shall we?
New England Harvest Turnovers
For the filling
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chunked up
1/2 a large sweet onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground clove
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground star anise
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
pinch of salt
1 Tbls. maple syrup, grade B
(Yields about 3 cups)
For the turnovers
1/2 lb. thick-cut bacon
1 cup shredded Vermont cheddar cheese
2 sheets Pepperidge Farm puff pastry
flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten
Makes 8 turnovers
Thaw the puff pastry
This will take about a half an hour, maybe a little more, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Unwrap it and set it out on the counter to thaw.
Make the filling (up to 2 days ahead of time)
While the puff pastry is thawing, get your filling cooking. Grab your apples.
Peel ’em on up.
Cut the apples into small chunks.
Peel and dice your onion.
Put the cut apples and diced onions into a large pot.
Toss in the apple cider vinegar. (I love Bragg brand. It’s so good for you. Learn more about it here.)
Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, star anise, black pepper and brown sugar.
Stir the whole shebang until the apples are coated fairly evenly.
Drizzle in the maple syrup and stir to combine.
I used Grade B syrup from a little farm up in Vermont.
Grade B syrup is deeply flavorful and fantastic for cooking. (As opposed to Grade A, which is more delicately flavored and is perfect for finishing or drizzling on pancakes.)
Set on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to bubble and steam.
Partially cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the apples and onion are tender, stirring occasionally.
While the apple mixture cooks, fry up your bacon.
I used Black Forest bacon from Whole Foods. I can hear you groaning about fancy, gourmet bacon from here…but! It actually costs just about as much as a pound of regular bacon when it’s not on sale at the grocery store. If you’re a bacon lover, it’s a total treat. If you don’t have it, by all means, use your favorite bacon.
Dice it up.
Set the diced bacon in a large pan over medium-high heat.
Fry ’til crisp, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, drain, and set aside in a small bowl.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, transfer the hot mixture to a bowl, and let it cool to room temperature.
Assemble the turnovers
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Beat one egg in a small bowl. Set both aside while you put the turnovers together.
Oh, and grate up the cheese and set it aside, as well.
OK. Lightly flour a board.
Unfold one sheet of thawed puff pastry.
Whack it into quarters with a sharp knife.
Grab one square. Position it like this in front of you.
Put about 1/4 cup of the cooled apple/onion mixture on the bottom half of the square. Don’t spread it right to the edges. You’ll see why in a minute.
Top with a little crisped bacon. Aim for about 1 Tablespoon, but don’t make yourself nuts. This isn’t neurochemistry.
(Mmmmm, crispy bacon. Nom, nom, nom…)
Sprinkle with a little cheese. Again, don’t make yourself nuts. Both these things are kind of hard to measure exactly.
Fold the pastry over the filling.
Grab a fork and crimp the edges shut. (This is why you left a little room.)
Your finished turnover should look about like this.
Now, puff pastry is very forgiving. If yours look a little mangled, don’t sweat it. They will be glorious and golden when they come out of the oven. The main thing is to ensure that you have a good seal around the edges. You don’t want the juice from the filling to come out as they bake.
Brush the top of the turnover with beaten egg. If you don’t have a pastry brush, use your (very clean) fingertips.
Set the turnover on your prepared pan.
Last but not least, punch a little X in the top center of the turnover with a sharp knife. This is your steam vent, and will keep your turnovers from exploding if they get overly excited in the oven. (They should be fine, but I like to err on the safe side.)
Repeat with the rest of your ingredients until you’ve used all your puff pastry.
Bake the turnovers
Pop your pan into your pre-heated 400-degree oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastries have poofed up and are golden brown. When they’re done, yank the pan out of the oven.
Let the pastries cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 10 minutes.