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23 July 2006

Asparagus Puffs (Cooks Illustrated)

Asparagus Puffs

10/2005

Make-Ahead Note: The puffs can be made ahead. Skip the step of brushing the tops with egg and sprinkling with cheese. Wrap the baking sheet tightly in plastic and freeze for up to 1 month (once completely frozen, the puffs can be transferred to a storage bag). When ready to bake, let the puffs sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then brush with egg, sprinkle with cheese, and bake as directed.



Other Tips:

  • Track down imported Parmesan for the best flavor. It costs more than domestically produced cheese, but the nutty, complex flavor is worth every penny.
  • Blanch the asparagus spears until tender before incorporating them in the cheese mixture. Make sure to have a bowl of ice water in which to quickly cool down the blanched spears; otherwise they can overcook and turn drab.
  • Thoroughly defrost the puff pastry before working with it. It can crack easily if too cold.


Makes 24 pieces

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 pound asparagus , trimmed, blanched, dried, and chopped fine

1/4 cup minced fresh chives

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Table salt and ground black pepper

1 box frozen puff pastry (1-pound), thawed in refrigerator overnight

Flour for dusting work surface

1 large egg , lightly beaten

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine ricotta, 3/4 cup Parmesan, asparagus, chives, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl.

2. Unfold both pieces puff pastry on lightly floured surface and roll out to flatten bumps or creases. Using 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 24 rounds. Brush rounds with egg. Place 1 tablespoon cheese mixture slightly off center on each round. Fold round over cheese and crimp edges with fork. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with egg and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

3. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm.