Thursday, February 12, 2009
Rolling out the dough: Roquefort and Pear Strudel
I seldom make time-consuming foods but on occasion I will break from tradition and try something new and different. This past week I made a strudel. No not an apple strudel...a pear strudel. With blue cheese and pecans. It was good! Quite good that I ended up eating pretty much all of it by myself.
Pears are a fruit that I rarely desire. So when I spotted this recipe for pear, pecan and Roquefort cheese in this months issue of Bon Appetite magazine, I knew this was a good way to eat pears.
1.5 tsp unsalted butter plus 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1.5 pounds firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
(about 3.5 cups)
6 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/3 cups)
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1 tbs all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs plain dried breadcrumbs
Melt 1.5 tsp butter in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add pears and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Strain pear mixture, discarding juices, then transfer pears to rimmed baking sheet, spacing apart; cool completely. Transfer cool pears to large bowl. Add cheese, pecans, flour, and lemon juice to pears and toss gently to combine.
For the strudel I did not use the recipe in the Bon Appetite magazine and instead I used Kickpleat's recipe for cornmeal pate brisee. I have included the original strudel pastry recipe from Bon Appetite at the end of this post.
cornmeal pate brisee
2 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 c unsalted butter, frozen cut into small pieces
1/4 - 1/2 c ice water
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and sugar. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Slowly sprinkle in the ice water, a little at a time and use your hands to mix the dough until it holds together.
2. Divide the dough in half and place each lump on a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten to form a disc and then wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 1 day before using.
Place 36x24-inch cotton cloth or some parchment paper on your work surface. Secure corners with tape. Sprinkle some flour onto the surface. Using rolling pin, roll out one of the dough balls as thinly as possible and create a long thin rectangle and dust dough lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Trim the irregular edges. Rolled them up into a smaller ball and used the extra dough to patch up cracks or holes in the existing rectangle. Believe me there will be cracks and crevasses in the dough.
Brush the dough with some melted butter. Sprinkle 1 tbs sugar and 1 tbs breadcrumbs on the dough before you add the filling.
Take your filling and fill the centre of your pastry, creating a 1.5 -inch wide log and leaving a one inch border all around. Using the parchment paper or the cloth as an aid, life edge of paper and start rolling up strudel dough over filling, enclosing filling completely. Tuck in short ends of dough and pinch to seal.
NOTE: My strudel dough was too short and did not cover up the entire span of the filling so I improvised and stopped rolling halfway across the strudel. Then I took hold of the opposite side and rolled towards the centre. I rolled up the ends too. If you have a look at the photo below you will see what I mean. Not the most attractive looking strudel but good enough for a newbie.
Transfer strudel to baking sheet. Brush some melted butter all over the surface of the strudel. Chill at least one hour. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat oven to 375 F . Bake strudel until golden brown for approximately 40 minutes. . Cool strudel on baking sheet for 30 minutes. Cut strudel crosswise in 1-inch thick slices eat warm or at room temperature.
The finished product looked and smelled great! The taste was a combination of sweet from the pears, tangy from the cheese. The cornmeal brisee was crispy and buttery.
Overall the strudel was pretty good and it tasted even better the following two days where I continued to eat it up all by myself. My husband only sampled a slice of the strudel because he is cutting back on his wheat and dairy consumption lately so there was more than enough strudel for me to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it was all gone.
In case you are interested in using the original dough recipe from the Bon Appetite magazine here it is:
2 cups all purpose flour plus additonal for dusting
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
Combine 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup warm water, oil and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. Dough will be sticky. Remove strudel dough from bowl and divide in half into ball. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate one ball overnight for strudel; freeze second dough ball for another use.
The one ball of dough will create a large rectangle sheet of rolled out dough (34x18-inch). With a sharp knife, trim edges to form 33x17-inch rectangle. Cut dough rectangle lengthwise in half, forming two 33x18.5-inch rectangles. Proceed with brushing butter and sprinkling sugar and breadcrumbs on the surface. Add filling and begin to roll. See above for complete instructions.