Ham & Asparagus
Buttery diamond shaped puff pastries filled with smokey ham, caramelized shallots, asparagus béchamel, Gruyere cheese and asparagus tips, baked golden and served with fresh chives and Hollandaise sauce.
Notes: Store bought puff pastry can be used if you do not wish to make it fresh. Making the fresh pastry dough will take 4-6 hours and then the dough will need to rest overnight or 6-8 hours before rolling out. If you have the time and patience, it's well worth the effort. Makes 2 dozen pastries.
You will need a kitchen food scale, food processor, marble pastry board, rolling pin, measuring tape and a 4 inch, square pastry/cookie cutter.
Pate Feulilletee-Puff Pastry
15 ounces (weight) all purpose flour-sifted
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) very cold, unsalted European butter, cubed
6.5-7 ounces cold water (weight)
8 ounces (2 sticks) European unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup whole milk
48 fresh asparagus spears
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh, minced garlic
2 cups whole milk-room temp
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
8 ounce Gruyere cheese block, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups small dice, shallots
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh, lemon juice
Mini food processor or blender
Finely Chopped smoked, ham
Finely grated Gruyere cheese
Fresh cracked pepper
Pastry bag with wide, round tip
Chill the pastry board in the refrigerator.
Add the flour, salt and sugar to a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until finely chopped into the flour. Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl and and gradually mix in the water until there are no small crumbs left on the bottom. Press the dough together, place on the pastry board and knead 2-3 times to incorporate ingredients. Shape into a ball and flatten into a sphere about 1 inch thick. Cover in plastic wrap or a ziplock bag and refrigerate 30-45 minutes until chilled.
Note: The butter should be as malleable as the dough and cold.
Remove dough from the refrigerator and place on the chilled pastry board. Using a rolling pin, pound the butter until malleable and shape into a 5" circle. Lightly flour the surface of pastry board and roll the dough out into a 12" circle. Place the malleable, cold butter in the middle and fold the sides over to the center, so that the butter is completely covered with the dough.
Roll the dough out into a 15"x10" rectangle and fold lengthwise into 1/3rds (envelope shaped, 3 layers). Repeat; roll out and fold. Wrap with the plastic and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours until the gluten has relaxed and the dough has softened.
Remove from the refrigerator and repeat the steps again; roll out, fold, turn, roll out, fold. Place the dough back in the refrigerator and let rest overnight.
The next day:
Add the butter to a sauce pan and heat over medium-low temperature. Once butter starts to bubble, add the flour and garlic and whisk/cook for 2 minutes. Turn the temperature up to medium and gradually whisk in the milk. Add the salt and season with white pepper, whisking continuously. As soon as sauce starts to boil, remove from heat and cover.
Slice off the tips of all of the asparagus spears and set aside. Snap or slice off the bottom part of stems, discard the tough bottom part and then slice the remaining part of spears (not the tips) into 1/3rds.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the sliced asparagus stems to a food processor with one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and pulse until puréed. Gradually add/pulse in the warm béchamel until smooth. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, press the warm asparagus béchamel through a sieve into a bowl. Measure out 2 1/2 cups of the asparagus béchamel and add to a medium sized sauce pan. Add more milk if needed to achieve 2 1/2 cups.
To make the Beurre Manié cream the butter and flour together and gradually whisk into the béchamel sauce over medium heat. Once sauce starts to simmer, cook 1 minute, whisking continuously; remove from heat and stir in 1 ounce of the grated Gruyere cheese until smooth.
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium temperature. Add the diced shallots, cover and cook until softened. Remove cover and cook, stirring often, until caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool.
Note: Make the Hollandaise right before serving the pastries. This recipe is made using a small food processor (or blender). If you don't have a processor, prepare by continuously whisking the egg yolks in a sauce pan over a low temperature and "gradually" dripping in the hot butter until thickened.
Place the butter in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low temperature.
Add the egg yolks and lemon juice to the food processor (or blender) and gradually pulse in the "hot" butter. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and pulse until thickened.
Toss the reserved asparagus tips with some olive oil and salt & pepper.
Fill the pastry bag with the cooled, asparagus béchamel. Place your chopped ham, shallots, asparagus tips and grated Gruyere cheese, in separate bowls and set in your work area.
Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator and unfold. Cut in half widthwise and place 1/2 of it back in the refrigerator until ready to use. Roll out the pastry to about a 1/8" thickness and cut 12 squares using your cutter. Scraps can be pressed together and rolled back out if needed. Depending on how fast you work, you may want to place most of the squares in the refrigerator and remove a few at a time to fill. Pastry dough should be cold.
Follow the diagram on the left side of page on how to cut and shape the pastry diamonds; and using your finger, rub a little bit of water between the folded parts to adhere together. After diamonds are cut and folded, brush well with the egg wash, except for the center that will be filled.
Add about a teaspoon of shallot in the center, then chopped ham, then a pipe of asparagus béchamel, a sprinkle of grated gruyere and finish with 2 asparagus tips. As you go, place the finished pastries an inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator to keep dough cold.
Preheat oven to 400F and place pastries in the center of oven. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Make the Hollandaise sauce, chop some fresh chives and serve with the diamond pastries. Makes 2 dozen.