Saturday, August 22, 2009

Puff Piece

Photos by Cynthia

We were invited to a birthday party tonight and wanted to bring something festive.

Several years ago on the original Japanese Iron Chef, I watched a challenger make what was his signature meat pie. I don't have any memory of what went into it, only it's distinctive shell: a warm, sunburst pastry crust. Last night I attempted a replica for a lamb tourtiere.

An onion and about a half of a pound of shitake mushrooms were slowly caramelized in a large pan. A pound of ground lamb and one link of Mexican chorizo were added to the pan and browned.. The mixture was seasoned with salt, pepper, freshly ground cumin seeds and some garam masala. I added some extra roasted garlic cloves that Cynthia prepared for her sumptuous tomato pie. (If we all ask hard enough, Cynthia may be coaxed into writing her own post about her creative spin on tomato pie).

After the meat was browned, some julienned sun-dried tomatoes and chopped artichoke hearts went into the pan with some fresh thyme, chopped mint, parsley, and cilantro.

Meanwhile, two sheets of puff pastry were laid out and gently rolled. In our small hot kitchen and humid climate, keeping dough at the right temperature is tricky. I had the top and bottom crusts on different pans that when in and out of the refrigerator to keep them from getting too warm and sticky.

When the filing was ready and slightly cooled, I pressed it into a shallow soup bowl that I used as a mold and positioned the mound of filling in the center of the bottom crust. The top crust was then laid over the the filling and bottom crust, tucked tight around the edge of the filling mound.

Using a large mixing bowl as a template, I placed the bowl over the pie and cut a circle in both crusts, leaving a margin of about two inches outside the mound. I the cut slits in the margin, folding both layers of crust into triangles to form the rays of the sun.

After cutting vents into the top of the mound, the pie went into a 400ยบ oven. I was sharing the oven with Cynthia's tomato pie, so mine was on the top rack. It was done in about 25 minutes.

The puff pastry has a mind of it's own and some of the triangle rays morphed into odd proportions, and in hindsight, I would have liked to have brushed an egg wash on the crust for a sunny glow.

But heck, we were late to the party as it was.


  1. I think the dish is beautiful! And I love all the flavors in the filling!

  2. What a beauty with such flavorful filling.