I know I’ve been eating poorly when I actually start to crave vegetables. I was never good at eating my veggies as a child. As an adult, I’ve developed a healthy appreciation for them, but I don’t frequently plan a meal around what vegetable I’m going to serve (unless it is late summer/garden-gone-wild season). But after a weekend of takeout Chinese and delivery pizza followed by a week of business conference fare consisting of steam tables galore, I was ready for a cruciferous cure for my lackluster diet.
As I mentioned before, I didn’t do so well with vegetables as a kid. There was one surefire exception to this rule. Pepperidge Farms used to make a frozen puff pastry tart filled with broccoli and cheese. My sisters and I happily scarfed down the fluffy, flaky delights as I’m sure my mom looked on with relief in that she finally found something we wouldn’t argue with her about. Then suddenly, they were no where to be found in our local grocery stores. We looked in vain at each new town we were in, but alas, never found the golden tarts again.
I realize broccoli, cheddar and puff pastry aren’t exactly the epitome of a healthful dish, but for some reason, I couldn’t get the idea of these emerald filled delights out of my head. As kids, we got in the habit of calling these “turtles,” perhaps because the domed puff pastry reminded us of a turtle’s shell. As I sailed through the clouds on my way back home, I kept thinking about the “turtles” over the hum of the airplane’s engine. I needed to go to the grocery store.
As my knife slid through the broccoli and the chunks of sharp cheddar cheese whirled around in my food processor, I became more and more excited about this long-lost taste of childhood dinners. I glanced over at B and Brix, snoozing in the late afternoon sun, and thought about how far I’ve come from the last time I bit into one of these tarts and wondered where I’d be the next time we ate one. Perhaps we’d still be here in our temporary living arrangements. Perhaps we’d actually be living in the same state again. Or maybe, we’d be in a new house, finally planting some roots in our new town. Regardless, I’ll look forward to the next bite and wherever we may be when the itch strikes again for a broccoli and cheese turtle.
cheddar broccoli en croute
recipe: jb’s pour house
1 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator
2 c. trimmed broccoli florets
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. 1% milk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, beaten lightly
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly dust work surface with flour. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and place on work surface with the seams running vertically. Place the other sheet back in refrigerator. Roll out to about 12-14″ in length. Place a salad plate (or any other large circular object) upside down on top of dough. Using a butter knife, cut around edge of plate to cut a circle in dough. Repeat so you end up with two circles from dough. Repeat process with puff pastry remaining in refrigerator. Once complete, place puff pastry circles back in refrigerator until ready to use.
Steam broccoli for about 4 minutes. Place steamed broccoli in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Once melted, add flour and whisk for about 1 minute. Slowly begin adding milk and whisk constantly, allowing mixture to thicken before adding another small amount of milk. Continue slowly adding milk and whisking until all milk has been added. Add Dijon mustard and whisk to incorporate. Add shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce and whisk continuously until sauce has thickened and cheese has melted completely. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour about half to three quarters of cheese sauce over broccoli and stir gently to combine. Remove puff pastry circles from refrigerator and place on lightly floured work surface. Divide broccoli evenly among puff pastry circles and spoon about 2-3 Tbsp. cheese sauce over the top. Begin folding edges of pastry in toward center of circle. After folding an edge in, lightly brush with beaten egg. Fold another edge over and brush with egg to seal, like so. Repeat until all edges have been folded in and sealed, completely covering broccoli. Carefully place fingers under puff pastry tart and flip over. Place puff pastry, folded edges down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining puff pastry circles.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Serve warm as is or drizzled with remaining cheese sauce.
For my family – a long lost recipe found again!
All content and photographs © 2010-2011 jb’s pour house