Mon 17 Nov 2008
There are some make-at-home recipes that are simply not worth the effort. Sure, you can take a certain amount of pride in the DIYness of it all, but is it really that much better than the storebought version? When we started the butternut squash turnovers for our Fakesgiving dinner, I was afraid we’d stumbled onto another of this ilk. Frankly, the jury was out until we had our first bite of these bad boys right out of the oven.
For our early Fakesgiving dinner courses, Mike and I set out a cheese tray from Cheesetique with a variety of spiced nuts, dried apricots and toasted pumpkin seeds (right). We wanted to add something autumnal and warm as a passed hors d’oeuvres and came across this recipe in October’s Food and Wine magazine. It combined some of our favorite fall ingredients: leeks, squash, mushrooms, thyme, and fresh goat cheese. How could we go wrong?
First of all, if you’ve ever peeled a butternut squash you know what I was in for when I began prepping this recipe. The awkard, semi-phallic squash is a mighty departure from the linear, glide your peeler right over it carrot. It is bulky. It is slippery. It is a treacherous beast to dice if you value your fingertips (and I do, unlike Mike who sacrificed his pinky in a pumpkin carving incident the night before. He is SUCH a knife fighter).
“Gawd,” I called to Mike, who was shaving manchego cheese – sans pinky – for our macaroni and cheese dish, “this thing is already a pain in the ass.” I tossed the squash in the oven to cook for about 25 minutes and started in on step two. (Please note this is out of order from the official directions from the magazine. Because efficiency? It’s up there with cleanliness in kitchen virtues.)
Luckily step two presented significantly less hazard: saute leeks, mushrooms, garlic, and thyme in olive oil. The smell of this filled our apartment and immediately made me forget about hassle factor of the squash. Once the squash was done baking, I tossed it into the pan with the other ingredients. Okay, this was all coming together.
I covered this concoction and set it aside to prep some other recipes and battle with the dust bunnies so our friends didn’t think we were total slobs.
Final results and the full recipe after the jump.
After wrapping up other chores, I put my focus back on the turnovers, which we hoped we could pull right out of the oven as our friends arrived. I laid out the (store bought) puff pastry on our floured counter and cut it into squares with a pizza cutter. I spooned the squash-vegetable mixture into the center of each square and added a dollop of fresh goat cheese (from Bowers Fancy Dairy Products at Eastern Market) at a 2:1 ratio.
I then began, ever so kindly, to fold the corners of the pastry dough to the top to wrap the turnovers snugly into their new homes. The pastry dough was not having it.
“Submit! You will submit!” Okay, I love to bake and I’m not usually in the habit of screaming at dough. But it had been a long day, featuring five fire trucks called on account of our smoking turkey and a trip to the ER for Mike’s slashed pinky before we even got started on food prep. Our friends were scheduled to arrive within 30 minutes, this was the last item on my to-do list before I could sit down with wine and I Would. Not. Surrender.
The dough finally obeyed and I negotiated most of the turnovrs into a neat little wonton-like shape that contained their delicious, hard-won ingredients. Into the oven they went for 25 minutes and they came out golden, buttery and only slightly oozing goat cheese (which, really, is pretty appetizing). Mike and I bit into one.
The result? Freaking amazing. If there is another dish out there that tastes like autumn in one single bite, I haven’t met it. The goat cheese combined with the butteriness of the pastry and woodsy depth of mushrooms and vegetables recalls parks full of crunchy leaves, wearing a jacket for the first bite in the air and brand new school pencils.
I will absolutely make these turnovers again although probably not if I am hosting a full blown, multi-course meal.
Butternut Squash Turnovers, from Food and Wine magazine’s October issue.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large leeks, white parts only, cut into 1-inch dice (2 cups)
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- One 2-pound butternut squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 14 ounces all-butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen
- 3/4 pound fresh goat cheese (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the diced leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the shiitake and cook, stirring often, until their liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the thyme and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a medium bowl.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the parchment. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, until softened and starting to brown. Add the squash to the leeks and mushrooms and toss.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll out the puff pastry to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the pastry into twelve 4-inch squares. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the shiitake-squash mixture onto each square and top with 2 tablespoons of the goat cheese. Lightly brush the edge of the squares with some of the beaten egg. Fold the squares over to form triangles and crimp the edges decoratively with a fork.
- Arrange the turnovers on the prepared baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Brush the tops of the turnovers with the remaining beaten egg. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.