julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

This Recipe Won’t Have You Feeling Blue

 

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“I go into this very weird fugue state where I start thinking about the Roquefort filling, which is determinedly trying to escape the turnovers, and how isn’t it sort of essentially arrogant, really almost a slave-owning mentality, to be approaching this from the perspective of how best to trap the Roquefort filling, without consideration for the Roquefort’s fundamental desire for freedom? In retrospect, this was probably the first symptom of my imminent psychotic break.” – Julie Powell 

The other night I was looking for a side dish to spice up a simple beef casserole recipe I found online. I wanted something that was a little out of the ordinary, yet not too complex. I flipped through my (now somewhat disgusting) pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking to see what delectables Julia had for me. I stopped in the Hors d’Ouevres chapter when I saw a recipe for Petits Chaussons Au Roquefort (pastry turnovers with Roquefort cheese). Curious, I read into it a bit and was happy to see that I could substitute the Roquefort (which I had learned from a previous culinary experience is a really strong and tart cheese) with Blue Cheese (a somewhat more mild version of its predecessor).

Cheese filling for the turnovers

I started by mashing a wedge of Blue Cheese (isn’t it supposed to be Bleu Cheese??) with a fork in a mixing bowl, adding butter, a couple of egg yolks, a dash (or five) of cognac, and some pepper and minced green onion tops. While this was a bit of a struggle in the beginning, the more I mixed everything together, the more the cheese softened and eventually this process was pretty easy. If nothing else, it’s a good arm workout, which you’ll need if you keep eating all this cheese. (And by “you”, I mean “me”.)

Next I beat a couple of tablespoons of cream into the bowl, making sure the consistency of the mixture remained pasty. (We don’t want this to thin out too much, or disaster will surely strike! I’m not sure what that disaster is, exactly, but I’m not going to question Julia’s words of warning. *Note: Julia Child does not actually use the phrase “disaster will surely strike” in this recipe.)

At this point, what’s left in the mixing bowl is now a pastry dough. As I pulled it out to plop down on my floured countertop, I realized immediately my dough was too wet (okay, I’ll admit it…I went a little gung-ho with the cognac). But no worries! I simply tossed a little more flour into the ball of dough and worked it together until it lost its stickiness and was easy to manipulate. (I was going to make a witty analogy here, but let’s just move on before we get entirely side-tracked.)

These were still too thick, so I rolled them out a little more before filling.

I rolled out the dough into a large rectangle about 1/8″ thick, then used a butter knife to cut the dough into 2.5″ squares (of course, I use the word “squares” loosely). I preheated the oven to 425 degrees and began to fill my dough pockets (that’s what those squares are) with the cheese filling. I dropped a teaspoon of the mixture into the center of each square, then used a pastry brush (okay, I used my finger – my pastry brush met an untimely demise during the crepe chapter of MtAoFC, if you must know) to paint the edges of the dough with a mixture of one egg and a splash of water. This egg wash will act as a glue to keep the edges of the dough together – you’ll fold one corner of the dough diagonally, making a triangle, and pinch the edges together to seal the cheese inside its fateful tomb…MWAHAHAHA! (Honestly, that was a bit much. My apologies. Please continue.)

Once the little ravioli-like triangles are sealed (uh, aren’t ravioli squares?), I took the tines of a fork and made pretty little imprints along the edges, then set them all on a buttered baking sheet. I finger-painted the tops of the turnovers with the egg wash, then poked a 1/8″ hole in the tops so the steam could escape while they baked. (You don’t want a bunch of cheese turnovers exploding in your oven…like the time in high school when my ceramics teacher put our handmade vases in the kiln and mine exploded from the heat, taking out all of my classmates’ projects in its wake. Sad times.)

Don't these look great??

These babies baked in the oven for about 15 minutes (keep an eye on ’em and don’t let ’em burn, because then it really would be sad times!) and I removed them when they were lightly browned and had puffed up nicely. They smelled amazing, and tasted great! This is probably a bad time to mention that I’m not a huge fan of Blue/eu Cheese, but I must say these were QUITE tasty. While not as powerful as Roquefort, blue cheese is pretty strong, so I could only have a couple (or seven), but they were definitely a hit at my house.

The crust was perfect – light, thin, slightly crispy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside. The cheese filling itself was creamy and tangy yet mild – the individual ingredients couldn’t really be detected, but instead they all worked really well together. As I bit into the turnovers, I was surprised to see that the creamy cheese mixture had melted (duh) as it cooked, and spread out to fill the hollow insides of the doughy triangles – it wasn’t just a lump of filling in the center. Quite nice! These would be great for a holiday party, or perfect for a game night (finger foods are always the way to go!). Even better, you could make larger dough triangles and serve these as a luncheon entree. I have a blue cheese fan in my life, and I think these would be a great gift for a certain upcoming holiday… The sky’s the limit!

Whether you want these as a snack, or are looking for a way to dress up an ordinary meal, give these turnovers a try. Imagine the other fillings you could use for a whole new taste!

Have fun in the kitchen!
– Jessica

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One Response to “This Recipe Won’t Have You Feeling Blue”

  1. Rachel says:

    Okay, I am not posting about this post, but rather your “featured video”– Jessica– you look amazing, and are quite the cooking personality! I especially LOVE the music you chose for the end– cute!

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