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A few key elements need to be in place for me to consider Christmas and New Year’s a success. For starters, a festive album needs to be spinning on the turntable, and it helps if there’s a gussied up tree emitting a cozy glow from the corner. And the holiday trifecta isn’t complete until the warm aroma of baked treats comes wafting out of the kitchen.
This year, as with so many years past, I’m relying on puff pastry to provide that last sensory experience. The versatile dough can be used in so many creative ways, from fruit-filled tarts and sugar-dusted palmiers to vegetable pot pies and tapenade-topped canapés. If you’ve never worked with puff pastry, perhaps, like me, you assumed it would be tricky, based solely on its visual appeal. It just looks so … fancy! And “fancy” means a lot of work, right? Not always. Prepared, packaged puff pastry is actually extremely easy to use, and most commercial brands are made without eggs or dairy, making it suitable for vegans, too.
Whether preparing hors d’oeuvres, a main dish, or dessert, the process is the same. First, allow the dough to thaw out in its packaging. Next, if needed, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into your desired shape (most puff pastry is rectangular, and you may need a circle if you’re making a pie, for example). Beyond that, the only challenge is figuring out what delicious filling to use before popping it into the oven. This recipe for a traditional French galette des rois is my favorite way to use puff pastry. If you’re feeling festive, bury a bean inside like they do in France. The person who finds it is crowned king (or queen) for the day.
Aurelia d’Andrea’s passion for travel is deeply intertwined with her love of food. Whether in Perth, Prague, or Phnom Penh, she always gravitates toward local markets in search of edible treasures, and takes pleasure in recreating tasty travel memories at home in her tiny Parisian kitchen.