Fancy Café Style Comfort Food!
Many years ago, I cooked in a little French bakery café that was located just outside of Philadelphia. The owner of the restaurant was a classic Swiss chef. The chef offered several kinds of savory puff pastry creations on the menu. The savory puff pastries took about 10 minutes to bake if they were prepared ahead of time. These items were perfect for shoppers and the business lunch clientele, because these customers expect to be served and out the door in less than 45 minutes.
One thing about restaurants in malls and shopping areas is that the flow of business can be feast or famine. During the holiday season the restaurants were very busy, but during the dog days of summer, the restaurants only served one or two customers per day. Even though the Swiss chef's cuisine was great, because of the mall customer flow the restaurant ended up closing due to profitability issues.
In recent years consumers have taken interest in manufactured frozen "turnover" style pastry sandwich products. Most of the mass produced savory turnover products are low in quality and they leave much to be desired. The list of artificial ingredients on the package is long and this adds to the reason why such products should be avoided.
Instead of letting the old French bakery café quick savory puff pastry lunch item become a relic of the past, I decided to whip up a recipe example. A homemade pastry like this is very easy to make and it tastes much better than the manufactured frozen savory turnover products that are marketed on television.
Puff Pastry that is made from scratch is the best. Puff Pastry is relatively easy to make, but the process is time consuming. In keeping with today's quick and easy recipe convenience theme, pre-made frozen puff pastry is a good option. The savory stuffing ingredients can be prepared in less than 10 minutes, which is about the same amount of time that it takes to thaw a sheet of frozen puff pastry.
Why make your own savory puff pastry entrée? The reasons are easy to see! Number one, the quality and flavor will be better than a manufactured turnover product. Secondly, preparing a savory puff pastry opens the door of home kitchen chef creativity. Whipping up an easy to make gourmet meal that offers comfortable savory flavors will impress guests. This is always a good thing!
This puff pastry can be prepared ahead of time then refrigerated. This makes for an easy home cooked meal after a busy day. In a busy restaurant kitchen, it is always nice to have a few "easy bake" entrées on the menu.
The great thing about today's steak, mushroom and gruyère savory pastry recipe, is that the puff pastry crust seals all of the flavor inside. The aroma is mouth watering when the pastry is cut open!
A simple gourmet style accompanying sauce is best for a simple savory pastry. The sauce for today's recipe is a simple Cabernet Sauvignon Wine and beef stock reduction.
Many chefs use the word "Reduction" when describing a sauce on a menu. A Reduction Sauce might be tasty, but seeing the word "Reduction" on a menu does not exactly inspire romantic ambiance! A better choice of menu description is the French word "Glacé" which loosely translates to "translucent like ice or glassy in appearance."
Steak, Mushroom and Gruyère Puff Pastry:
This recipe yields 1 large savory puff pastry entrée.
Lean beef is best for this recipe. Top Sirloin Steak or Ball Tip Steak are good choices.
Packages of frozen sheets of puff pastry dough can be found in most grocery stores. Some brands are better than others.
Step 1: Select 6 ounce lean beef steak.
Season the beef with sea salt and black pepper.
Step 2: Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
Sauté the steak on both sides, till it is cooked one shade lighter than the desired finish temperature. (medium rare to medium is best)
Remove the from the pan and set it aside.
Step 2: Drain the grease out of the sauté pan. (dégraisser)
Place the sauté pan over medium low heat.
Step 3: Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
Add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped shallot.
Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
Sauté till the shallots turn clear in color.
Step 4: Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced mushrooms.
Add 1 pinch of Herbs de Provence.
Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Gently sauté till the mushrooms are fully cooked.
Step 5: Add 1/4 cup of water.
Scrape and deglaze the brown suc that is stuck on the bottom of the pan.
Step 6: Simmer and reduce till nearly all of the liquid evaporates.
Place the mushroom mixture in a mixing bowl.
Step 7: Slice the seared steak into very thin, bite size strips.
Add the sliced steak to the mushrooms in the mixing bowl.
Add 1/4 cup of grated Gruyère Cheese. (Swiss Emmentaler Cheese can be substituted for Gruyère, if none is available.)
Toss the steak mixture together and set it aside.
Step 8: Cut an 8" x 8" square of puff pastry dough.
Place the pastry dough on a lightly flour dusted counter top.
Mound the steak, gruyere and mushroom filling on the center of the pastry dough. Leave a 1" wide border of bare puff pastry dough around the filling.
Step 9: Pull the opposing pastry square corners up and over the filling, so they meet at the center of the top of the pastry and a ball shape starts to take form.
Pinch the pastry dough corners together, so they stay in place.
Step 10: Pull the loose open folds of the pastry dough up and pinch them together on top of the pastry, so the ball shape is complete.
*Be sure to completely seal the filling inside the pastry or the melted cheese will leak out when it is baked!
Trim any excess dough off from where the pastry dough was pinched together.
Step 11: Place the buttered piece of parchment paper on a baking pan.
Set the stuffed pastry ball on the parchment paper, so the area where the pastry is pinched together is facing down.
*You can decorate the ball shaped pastry with any extra pastry dough, if you want a fancier presentation or just leave it plain for a modest presentation. Cut some excess pastry dough into something like flower petal shapes and use egg wash to attach the decorations.
Step 12: Brush the stuffed pastry ball with egg wash.
Step 13: Bake the pastry in a 375ºF oven till it is a light golden brown color. (About 15 to 20 minutes.)
Let the Steak, Mushroom and Gruyere Puff Pastry rest for 2 minutes before serving.
*The Cabernet Sauvignon Glacé can be made while the pastry bakes!
Cabernet Sauvignon Glacé:
This recipe yields about 2 1/2 tablespoons.
Step 1: Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
Add 1 cup of cabernet sauvignon wine.
Add 1/2 cup of rich beef stock.
Step 2: Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
Rapidly simmer and reduce the liquid till it becomes a thin syrup consistency that can lightly glaze a spoon.
Remove the pot from the heat and keep it warm on a stove stop.
Steak, Mushroom and Gruyère Puff Pastry with Cabernet Glacé:
Spoon the cabernet sauvignon glacé on a plate in a decorative manner, as a bed for the pastry.
Place the pastry on the cabernet glacé.
Serve with a vegetable medley of your choice.
Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.
This is a very nice comfort food entrée for a chilly day!