By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert
Perfectly put, puff pastry is prestigious. No matter how it is used-whether laden with savory or sweet ingredients – this delicate multi-layered crust exudes an aura of pure sophistication. Butter, the main component, makes the refined difference. However, this pastry’s ancestral ties actually date back to the Middle Ages when olive oil was the magical key. Its flaky distant relative “phyllo” was a prominent part of the Mediterranean meal. Egyptians, Greeks and Turks folded olive oil into dough that contained diverse elements and baked the turnovers in stone ovens.
In the 17th century, French baker Claude Gelee was fiddling with a recipe to soothe his father’s stomach ailment. He initially placed a “beurrage” (butter packet) into a mound of dough and folded and refolded it until the butter was well blended and hidden away. While baking, steam found its way into the package’s gaps, causing them to rise. This buttery bonus delivered a happy happenstance that turned the basic mixture of water, flour and salt into a golden, glorious edible gift that his father was able to digest and enjoy. Gelee then began using his puffy concoction to surround the fruits or fillings of his desserts and called it “pate feuilleute” (puff pastry). Et voila! The term and technique “En Croute” (to encase) was born using “pate feuilleute” to wrap around beef, sausage and fish or a creamy fruite-filled finale.
Fit for a king, palace chefs embraced “pate feuilleute” as an elegant staple in many of the courses they prepared for the feasts of French royalty and noblemen. Other European countries copied the trend and by 1900, puff pastry was an established element for creations by restaurant chefs and bakers. In the United States, haute cuisine became fashionable at fancy French restaurants during the 1960’s and 1970’s where “pate feuilleute” had a dominant presence in many specialties. From that point forward, its mark was made.
Culinary beauty and the impeccable taste of a dish should go hand in hand. As a chef, you know the perfect presentation of a dish is as important as the perfection of its flavors.
Chef Derrick Peltz referred to classic methods and pastry to develop his own memorable highlights during his stint on FOX’s Master Chef where he was Season 6’s impressive Runner-up. “I love working with puff pastry to design my own culinary style. I ‘ve always been impressed at how puff pastry adds an artistic aspect and refinement to a dish from courses like Beef Wellington or salmon en croute.”
Chef Derrick Peltz successfully took a leap of faith in using classic ingredients of duck and cherries to create a stunning main course by crowning it with a beautiful lattice arch and surrounding it with colorful seasonal cauliflower. Use Matfer’s Lattice Pie Cutter, Exoglass® Sieve Strainer, Excellence Sauté Pan, High Mousse Ring, Hand Held Cherry Stoner, Ceramic Fry Pan and Stainless Steel All-Purpose Tongs for your own puff pastry designed dish.
TOOLS FOR THE TASTE
As a creative chef, your puff pastry dish will reign supreme when you use Matfer’s Lattice Pie Cutter, Exoglass® Strainer, Sauté Pan, High Mousse Ring, Hand Held Cherry Stoner, Blue Steel Oven Backing Sheet, Ceramic Fry Pan and Stainless Steel All-Purpose Tongs.