A Taste of NYC: Beauty & Essex

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I’m not sure if you’ve ever faced my continual brunch dilemma of savory or sweet, but it’s an ongoing battle. Every time I go out to brunch, I’m immediately drawn to the decadent description of brioche French toast with fresh berries or lemon ricotta pancakes, but resist because I know myself too well; I will take two bites and crave something savory to even out the sweet. Well, I found my solution at Beauty and Essex, a genius idea of brunch small plates to share which means everyone can have a bite of both sweet and savory.

Beauty and Essex wins at life, and they win a top seat on my favorite brunch spots, which is saying a lot coming from a bruncher like me. When you enter the old furniture store front that the restaurant has tastefully kept intact, the dark front room is full of cases holding antique jewelry, skis and other strange items. You immediately hear bouncing club music from the champagne brunch day club upstairs, and as you enter the dark velvet adorned bar, you’ll spot girls in furs and heels galore. I’ll admit the trendy, dressed-up aspect of the place is not really my style for brunch, (pretty sure I was in Lululemon leggings…) but it makes for fantastic people-watching. If you’re not into “the scene,” this place may not be for you.

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Now let’s get to the food. Chris Santos, the executive chef, is hands-down the king of small plates. After eating at his restaurant Stanton Social, I couldn’t wait to see what his other Lower East Side spot had to offer. We started off with vanilla beignets with raspberry preserves for a sweet bite, and they were incredible, warm and oozing with raspberry. Luckily there were four of us, so we got to try quite a few different savory bites as well. My favorites were probably the “bagel and lox” pizzetta (a “pizza dough” that literally tasted like a flattened everything bagel with a generous portion of lox), the braised short rib huevos rancheros and the lobster hash. We were not disappointed in anything, and could easily have ordered about 8 other dishes; it was very hard to choose! And the best part was getting to try a few bites of everything. Tapas-style brunch is definitely the way to go, well done Beauty and Essex.

Beauty and Essex $$$

146 Essex St. New York, NY 10022

What to Order:

Small Plates: Vanilla Beignets, Hot & Sweet Marinated Tomatoes on toast, Bagel & Lox Pizetta, Lobster & Chorizo Hash, Braised Short Rib Huevos

*Note: Order about 2 per person

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Bagel and Lox Pizetta

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Vanilla Beignets with Raspberry

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Oat Bites

Pumpkin Spice Bites 1I’ll just cut right to the chase…we’re slackers. Fall has been an insanely busy time in New York, and apparently in LA too. And it may only get worse with holiday season approaching! Even though October and Halloween have come and gone, our pumpkin kick has not. It’s still appropriate to obsess about pumpkin until the end of Thanksgiving, right? Call us Basic if you must, but the truth is pumpkin is delicious, versatile and easy to cook with, so the pumpkin posts continue.

Oat balls are one of my favorite healthy snacks because they’re so easy to grab on your way to the gym or if you need a midday kick at work but want something light. They also keep for a reasonable amount of time sealed in the fridge. These ones are fairly similar to this peanut butter variety I’ve posted previously, but mainly uses the pumpkin as the adhesive to make the balls stick instead of peanut butter. They take about 10 minutes to make, so I always choose these instead of processed granola bars from the store.

I have to admit, this pumpkin spice flavor was maybe one of my favorite combinations yet. I guess I should stock up on pumpkin purée from Trader Joe’s now before the season ends! Pumpkin spice balls in July, anyone?

Bon Appétit!

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Pumpkin Spice Oat Bites

1/2 Cup Almonds

1 Tbsp Agave or Maple Syrup (I used Trader Joe’s Agave-Maple Blend)

1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puréé

1 Cup Rolled Oats

1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds

1 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (Or regular chocolate chips, chopped)

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Directions:

Place almonds in a food processor or powerful blender and blend until completely crushed into a powder, on the verge of becoming almond butter (note: may need to pulse and continually scrape sides). Place almond powder into a large bowl. Mix in Agave and pumpkin until smooth. Stir in oats, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie spice, mini chocolate chips and chia seeds. Use your hands to roll the mixture into balls, about 1 – 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place in fridge for best results to allow the balls to set.

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Guilt-Free Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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It looks like Cathy and I think way too much alike. We’ve both gone a little crazy with pumpkin this month, and we have declared October to officially be Pumpkin Month. This year it’s especially important for me to have a lot of orange in my life, as it is, after all, an #OrangeOctober. For those of you who don’t follow sports, the SF Giants have made it to the World Series, and their tagline is Orange October. Last week I watched all the games, had some crazy nights cheering at Finnerty’s, the San Francisco bar here in New York, and they did it! And I’m actually GOING to the World Series next weekend in SF! So drink up friends, and brace yourself for this Orange October.

This smoothie is one of my favorite fall breakfast treats. It is deceivingly healthy even though it tastes deliciously like pumpkin pie. It is protein-packed and the pumpkin adds a healthy boost of carotenes. The key ingredient is definitely the pumpkin pie spice, which adds a blast of flavor. I will probably be drinking one every day of this World Series. Go Giants!

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Guilt-Free Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 Frozen Banana

1 Heaping Cup Organic Pumpkin Purée

1/3 Cup Non-fat Greek Yogurt

1/4 Cup Almond Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla)

1 Tsp Agave or Maple Syrup (I used Trader Joe’s Agave-Maple)

1 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 Ice Cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

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Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

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Yep, another post where I bake with pumpkin products. As an unapologetic pumpkin-lover, I’ll let you into a little blog preview/secret: Hailey and I have no plans on stopping this pumpkin obsession.Though this might be due to my lack of self-control around Trader Joe’s various pumpkin products … oops … I have so many ideas on how to incorporate this delicious orange goop into all my favorite fall foods. I’ll probably even write a few of these posts while in a Starbuck’s PSL-haze.  So, we better just get it over with and rename this blog,  “Cathy and Hailey Cook With Pumpkin.” But hey, at least we’ll be predictable, right?!

At the risk of over sharing and losing all resemblance of a social life, I’m going to share with you, the reader, how I spent my last Sunday. (Whatever, I’m about to go into a PSL happy coma anyways). I went to a cat’s 2nd birthday. One of my friend’s threw her cat a Mad Hatter-themed birthday party, complete with presents and party favors. I’ve got to say, it was really fun. Chester (the cat) ended up leaving the party after we tried to dress him up in his new dinosaur costume (purchased partially by yours truly), leaving a handful of girls around to drink mimosas, swap stories and eat these brownies.

A few words on these brownies: this is my favorite brownie recipe ever. There’s been weeks where my roommate Marta and I can polish off a pan of these brownies in under a week. Now that’s impressive a skill since these are some of the densest, moistest and richest brownies I’ve ever eaten. I added a cream cheese- pumpkin swirl to the top (while singing “chocolate and pumpkin swirrrrrlllll” … anyone who gets this reference, gets me) just because I’m always in the pumpkin mood.

Hope you enjoy!

Cheers!

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Pumpkin Swirl Brownies (adapted from Comfortably Domestic and Betty Crocker)

Brownies

1 1/2 Cups of Flour

1/3 Cup of Cocoa Powder

1/2 Tsp. of Instant Coffee

1/2 Tsp. of Salt

3/4 Cup of Butter, at room temperature

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar

1 Cup of Sugar

2 Cups of Chocolate Chips (I used semi-sweet chocolate)

2 Tsp. of Vanilla Extract

4 Large Eggs

Pumpkin Swirl

3 Oz. of Cream Cheese, softened

1/2 Cup of Canned Pumpkin Puree

1 Egg

3 Tbsp. of Sugar

1 Tsp. of Cinnamon

1 Tsp. of Nutmeg

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, coffee, salt, sugar and brown sugar together. Set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips, vanilla extract and butter at 30 second intervals until melted completely. Make sure that you stir the chocolate chips in between each microwaving session to help the heat distribute faster and more evenly. Mix the melted chocolate into the dry ingredients and stir completely. Stir in one egg at a time, taking care not to over mix. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, pumpkin puree, an egg, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a 9X9 inch greased pan, pour in 90 percent of the brownie batter. Once the batter settles, spoon pumpkin mixture on top, covering most but not all of the batter. Then do the same for the last 10 percent of the brownie batter. Take a clean butter knife and slightly swirl together the brownie and pumpkin. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes back slightly fudgy.

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A Taste of NYC: The Meatball Shop

 

Meatball 3The Meatball shop has been getting a lot of press these days. Even before moving to NYC I remember seeing it featured in some Bank’s small business advertisements. I’m not particularly a huge fan of meatballs, but with all the hype, I thought I’d give it a try. They actually have several locations now including the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Chelsea and Upper West. I went to the Chelsea location (wow, I just realized how much time I’ve been spending on the West Side!).

So here’s the deal about the meatball shop- it’s sort of pick and choose/design your own, think Counter Burger with the fun check marks you get to put on your menu. They have several staple kinds of balls (turkey, beef, chicken, veggie), and always a special. Besides creating your own sort of bowl or concoction, you can also get a single meatball on a slider. This is a great little appetizer if you want to taste the meatball of the day but don’t want a whole plate of it.

I’m kind of a sucker for design your own places…so I loved it. I actually had a salad, which did not at all help my attempt to be healthy as it was rather heavy (it’s a must to come here very hungry, you will eat a lot). My salad had all sorts of market roasted vegetables, topped with my choice of ball and sauce: chicken meatballs and pesto. Finally topped with a fried egg. Yum.

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A close look at the chicken-pesto Credit: http://themeatballshop.com/page/gallery/

My friend designed a pasta bowl, also topping it with chicken meatballs and pesto (yes, I was a copy-cat because apparently that is the best combination…maybe I’ll be more creative next time!). We also shared a side of garlic roasted broccoli, which was very good, although with all the veggies on my salad I probably didn’t need it.

So my only regret about this place was not saving room for dessert! They have a make-your-own ice cream sandwiches with homemade cookies…reminded me of my college days spent at Diddy Riese! (If you live in West LA, you know what I’m talking about). Next time maybe I’ll share a plate of balls and a dessert…that sounds like a good plan.

(Sidenote: We sat outside and it was very dark so please excuse the photos!)

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Chicken Pesto Meatballs atop pasta

The Meatball Shop

Multiple NYC locations, including:

200 9th Ave New York, NY 10011

What to Order:

Meatballs! Any kind of ball you like. It’s design your own so you can’t go wrong, but the chicken balls with pesto was amazing!

And save room for an ice-cream sandwich to share :)

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Meatball Salad

 

Cranberry Kale Salad

Kale 1This is almost as simple as it gets for a fall salad, but it’s darn delicious. I recently came across this great Buzzfeed article here, and it made me want to try SO many dishes with fall ingredients! This simple salad features kale and cranberries which are in season right now, but spices it up with a lemon vinaigrette, roasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan cheese.

This may be the first recipe I’ve made with fresh cranberries. I always go for the dried variety for salads and the like, but thought I’d give the fresh ones a go since they’re in season. My experience was that they are a LOT less sweet than dried cranberries, but I sort of enjoyed the tangy sourness in a salad. It was a great new experience, but definitely not for everyone (my friend didn’t like them all that much unfortunately).

This salad is a great appetizer, side dish or even a full meal. It also pairs great with Chardonnay (I clearly know from experience…). Happy fall everyone, and…

Bon Appétit!

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Kale Cranberry Salad

1 Bunch Curly Kale, chopped

3/4 Cup Fresh Cranberries

1/4 Cup Shaved Parmesan

1/4 Cup Pine Nuts

Roast the pine nuts over medium heat in a pan, stirring occasionally until golden brown. Set aside to let cool. Combine kale, cranberries and parmesan. Add pine nuts.

Dressing:

2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to Taste

1 Clove Garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and mix into the salad.

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A Taste of NYC: Keste Pizzeria

Keste 2Since I live in NYC, I’m obviously on a quest to find the best pizza around. Somewhat inspired by my friend Jen who used to have a blog that sought the best of every “New York food,” such as bagels, pizza, doughnuts, black and white cookies…I have been on a more low-key quest. (FYI her blog was really cool…check it out here! Gourmande on the Go). While I’m not necessarily documenting my quests, I hope to one day have an extensive lists of all the bests of NYC…maybe one day it’ll even appear on this blog.

Keste constantly comes up as a must-try for New York pizza. It’s not exactly New York-style pizza, it’s very Italian, but this cozy West Village spot is a favorite among many. Keste has been on my list for awhile, but I recently got to try it sort of on a whim, and sort of by accident.

My friend and I actually had intentions of a healthy and active evening. We decided that we would go on a run along the Westside highway. (Side note for runners- it’s really a beautiful path along the water, I had no idea how great it is!). It was a beautiful day, and I decided I would just walk from downtown to my friend’s place in Chelsea. Well, it’s kind of a farther walk than I expected. Coming from LA where I’m used to Cathy being my “neighbor” when she lived a mile and a half away, nothing in NYC seems far for me.

Well, by the time I got there and climbed the 5-story walk-up, I was tired and hungry. We embarked on a jog nonetheless, and made it about a mile before we decided we were over it. We decided to then run TO food. (Of course this is when my friend told me he and my other high school friend went on runs to Shake Shack frequently in the summer…his justification was that it’s healthier than taking the subway to Shake Shack!) So we ran into the West Village, and of course stumbled upon Keste, which I immediately recognized from my “list.”

The guy sitting next to us, seeing we were in work out clothes, started cracking up and mocking us, saying wow, good for you guys, going on a jog before eating. It was quite a scene.

So finally, the pizza…we were lucky to be there on a Tuesday evening, as it was fairly empty and there is usually a long wait. We ordered two pizzas to share, one with meat and one veggie. The crust was incredible- very doughy and fluffy. The cheese was very good as well, and the sausage on one of our pizzas was also quite good.

Some may kill me when I say this but….it actually wasn’t my favorite pizza in NYC! Don’t get me wrong, it was fantastic, but maybe a bit too saucy and not enough cheesy for my preferences. I’ve also been into very thin crust pizza lately, and this was a bit doughier and heavier. So far my favorites have been Otto and Malaparte (reviews to hopefully come soon!). Nonetheless, definitely worth heading to Keste for a delicious pizza meal.

Keste Pizzeria

271 Bleecker St. New York, NY 10014

What to Order:

We ordered two pizzas to share, the Ortolano (tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella, artichokes, mushroom, extra virgin olive oil), and one with sausage that I can’t seem to find the name of! There are so many different variations of pizza, and all vary only slightly so you really can’t go wrong.

The mozzarella is definitely very good quality, and the crust is a medium-thickness and very fluffy. Certainly one of the better crusts I’ve had.

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Overnight Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

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It sure doesn’t feel like Autumn, yet. Maybe Los Angeles didn’t get the Starbucks PSL memo, but over the last couple weeks, we’ve been experiencing days of 100+ degree weather and nights camped out in front of the air-conditioning. The term “Indian Summer” doesn’t seem to do it justice; it’s more like a triple-digit desert hell. Sure, I can spend my weekends walking sweating along the Venice Beach boardwalk, but I would trade it all for a little sweater weather and knee-high boots.

Last Friday, in a spell of wishful, Autumn thinking, my friends and I decided to pick up pumpkins from the nearest patch and carve jack-o-lanterns. Ana even committed to wearing flannel and boots… in this heat, that’s a show of real committment. All the wishful thinking in Los Angeles didn’t help us however, and when we arrived at Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch, we found that we were one of only a handful of people perusing a very, very empty pumpkin patch. Pumpkin fail?? Turns out we visited the pumpkin patch on opening day, so not necessarily a pumpkin fail. And, with a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some dark chocolate-covered pretzels and a bottle of wine, we had quite the successful girls’ night in.

With pumpkin carving festivities put on hold until the weather cools down (no one wants a baked jack-o-lantern), my pumpkin cravings had to be satisfied some other way. I’m a sucker for any recipe with pumpkin; pumpkin pie, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, my mom’s Korean pumpkin soup made with sweet rice … I love them all equally. So when Marta recently bought some roll-and-bake pumpkin cinnamon rolls from Trader Joe’s, I obviously helped myself to one a few rolls, and decided that I should take a stab at recreating the recipe.

I created these with a little help from Hailey and my favorite blog inspo, and the best part is that you can do most of the prep work the night before! I’ll definitely be making these sometime soon.

Anyone have any other pumpkin recipe suggestions?

Cheers!

pumpkincinnamonrolls3Overnight Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Rolls:

1 Cup of Pumpkin Puree

2 Tbsp. of Brown Sugar

1/4 Tsp. of Nutmeg

1/2 Tsp. of Salt

1/3 Cup of Milk

2 Tbsp. of Butter

1 Egg, beaten

1 Package of Instant Active Dry Yeast

2 1/2 Cups + 3-4 Tbsp. of All-Purpose Flour

Filling:

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar

1 Tbsp. of Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp. of Nutmeg

1/2 Tsp. of Ground Cloves

1/4 Cup of Raisins

3 Tbsp. of Butter

Glaze:

1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup

2 Tbsp. of Milk

1/2 Cup of Powdered Sugar

Directions:

Dough: Using an electric mixer, combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt until completely mixed. Meanwhile, warm your milk and butter in a microwave for approximately 30 seconds. You want to make sure that the butter is slightly melted and that the milk is lukewarm — not hot. Add milk to the pumpkin mixture and mix fully. Using a lower speed on your electric mixer, add the egg, yeast, and 1 cup of the flour and mix for about a half a minute. Raise the mixer’s speed and beat the mixture for a full five minutes. Add the rest of the flour and mix until all the four is incorporated into the dough. Turn the pumpkin dough (it will be very soft) into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place for 1 hour to 1.25 hours.*

*Note: I followed Sally’s tip to help dough rise. I pre-heated my oven to 200 degrees and turned it off just before I put my dough into the oven. This gave my cinnamon roll dough the environment it needed to double in size.

Now my favorite part. Once the dough doubles in size, remove it from the warm place and punch it down to deflate the dough. Turn it onto a floured surface and kneed with you hands so that the dough comes together. Be careful to only use enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll dough to approximately a 16 X 10 inch rectangle and set aside.

Filling: Melt the butter in the microwave. Combine all dry ingredients together, pouring the butter in last. Mix fully. Spread filling evenly over the dough.

Cut the dough into even strips, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Roll tightly from one end to another and place the finished, uncooked roll into a greased pan. Now the hard part. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight!*

*Note: When you are ready to bake your cinnamon rolls, Sally suggests letting the rolls come to room temperature and then letting them rise on the counter for 1 hour. I didn’t have time to do that before work on Monday, but found that the rolls increased in size (though didn’t double) while resting in the fridge overnight. Good enough for this hungry girl!

Bake in 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cover the rolls with foil, and unwrap them for the last 15 minutes of baking to help prevent burning.

Once done, remove from the oven and drizzle with glaze.

Glaze: Combine maple syrup, milk and powdered sugar in a small bowl.

Serves 9.

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Scallops with Bacon Spinach and Asparagus

Scallop 1Last Thursday my friend and I had a fantastic “date night” cooking dinner, watching the food network and drinking wine. My friend has lived in NYC for a couple years, and is unfortunately as much of a foodie as me, so we’ve been feasting together way too much. We decided to cook something light…but nothing is ever too light with us. We started out thinking fresh seafood and roasted vegetables. He lives right next to Chelsea Market, which is extremely convenient as The Lobster Place has some of the freshest seafood in the city, albeit pricey. We decided on some fresh scallops. But can you really have scallops without bacon?? I think not…at least not with us.

Bacon it is. We fried up a few slices to the perfect crispiness (yes, perfect bacon skills Mike- I’m not great with meats), and tossed it with some onions, garlic and spinach to serve as a bed for our scallops. To even out the meal I threw some asparagus in the oven tossed with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. It ended up being a pretty filling meal, but at least it was carb-free, right? And delicious.

I proved myself wrong that occasionally I do have time and the willpower to cook a full meal in NYC…as long as I have a cooking buddy.

Bon Appétit!

Scallop

Scallops with Bacon Spinach and Asparagus for two

3 Slices Bacon

8 Medium-sized Scallops

3-4 Handfuls Spinach

1/2 Onion, chopped

4 Cloves Garlic, chopped

2 Tbsp Lemon Juice, separated

Salt & Pepper

1 Bunch Asparagus

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the asparagus with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp lemon, 1/2 of the chopped garlic and salt & pepper. Place the asparagus evenly on a tray. Once the oven is heated, place the asparagus in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until done.

While the asparagus is in the oven, cook the bacon on a stove top fully and set aside on a paper towel. Leave about 1 Tbsp of the bacon grease in the pan, and discard the rest. Salt and pepper the scallops, and sear them on high heat, about 2- 2 1/2 minutes on each side. Set the scallops aside, preferably covered in tin foil to keep warm. Sautée the onions and garlic together for several minutes on medium heat. Add the spinach, and continue to stir until done. Crumble the bacon into the mixture and turn off the heat. By this time the asparagus should also be ready. Lay a bed of the spinach on a plate and place the scallops on top. Side the plate with asparagus.

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Plum Vol au Vents

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 My brother recently went to France to visit his girlfriend. Though I could easily spout off the reasons why I could be immensely jealous (his girlfriend lives on a farm in the South of France, her mother is a great baker who makes French breads and pastries for all the local stores and restaurants, they harvest their own honey… did I mention that her mother is a baker?), Michael brought me back a lot of French swag.

Included in my “swag” was a bottle of award-winning French wine and one jar of honey harvested from the bees around the farm. I had no problem finishing the bottle of wine, especially since my brother helped himself and his roommate to a glass, but there’s only so many cups of tea with honey this girl can drink.

I decided the only thing that could do French honey justice was a French-inspired pastry. Thus enters my plum vol au vents. I love this recipe because it combines one of my favorite stone fruits with layer upon buttery layer of puff pastry. It might not be the healthiest thing for you, but boy, will it taste good. I hope you enjoy them!

Cheers!

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Plum Vol au Vents

5 Ripe Plums

5 Tbsp. of Honey

Cracked Pepper

Puff Pastry, defrosted

Egg Wash

1 Egg

4 Tbsp. of Whole Milk

Directions:

Wash and dice four plums. In an oiled pan, toss with honey and cracked pepper. Broil at 500 degrees for 15 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool.

On a floured surface, roll out the defrosted puff pastry until it’s about 1/4″ thick. With a 4″ circular cookie cutter, cut an even number of circles in the dough. In half of the dough circles, press a 2″ cookie cutter in the center of the dough — only enough to create a distinct demarcation. Beat the egg and milk together to create the egg wash, and generously baste the half of the dough circles without demarcation lines. Gently cover with the other half of the puff pastry circles and press the edges together to create a seal. Generously baste the top of the puff pastry circles with the egg wash. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until dough rises and is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let vol au vents cool.

After the dough cools, take a knife (I used a pairing knife) and cut along the demarcation lines on top of each vol au vent. Remove any extra dough from the interior of the pastry, and fill with the plum mixture. Garnish with slices of plum.

Serves 6.

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