When I had kids, my number one criteria was to ensure that they eat good quality meals prepared with quality ingredients. Being an immigrant, I want to ensure my kids are exposed to foods from my culture in its entirety and foods from other cultures to appreciate the world around them. I grew up eating Bateta nu Shaak, you can find the recipe here. It is simply a potato curry where the potatoes are cooked in all these wonderful, earthy, aromatic spices like ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, and garam masala, spiced to perfection and thoroughly delicious! I wanted to bring a bit of my childhood into this beautiful Tart that I created – Indian Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash, Caramelized Coriander Leeks, Gruyere Tart.
I have worked with Fillipo Berio this year on a couple of projects. It has been an absolute pleasure using their wonderful variety of olive oils, pestos, and vinegars in my daily cooking! When you choose Filippo Berio Olive Oil, you are choosing a product steeped in the traditions. For nearly 150 years, Filippo Berio Olive Oil’s superior quality has inspired cooking enthusiasts to create delicious meals for family and friends. Nothing is more enjoyable and satisfying than cooking a meaningful recipe near and dear to my heart for the ones I love. Preparing food with love is the secret ingredient to every dish I create! Especially in this pandemic, when I have been cooking more for my family on a daily basis, the importance of providing for good ingredients, especially good quality ingredients, has become ever more impertinent to ensure good health for my family. I was so excited when I had another project to work with Filippo Berio, revolving around culture-inspired recipes.
Filippo Berio Olive Oils impart that distinct flavor to each and every dish that I prepare for my family. All the olive oils are formulated differently with different varieties of olives and each varietal has its own characteristic. For this tart, I used 2 kinds of Filippo Berio Oils: 1) The Robusto Extra Virgin Olive Oil was used with all the wonderful Indian Spices and Butternut Squash, for roasting. The olive oil is intensely fruity with a peppery finish, which is what I was going for with the roasted butternut squash, with all the intense spices, to bring out the best flavors via roasting the squash. 2) I used the Filippo Berio Olive Oil, a bright olive oil with a mild taste, to flavor the caramelized leeks, to let the leeks shine. The olive oil was also used to fry up the sage leaves, making them crispy to decorate the tart.
I will walk you through the process of creating a homemade puff pastry! It is really not that difficult, just a bit tedious, but the flavors are impeccable, and they are made only with 5 ingredients, and no preservatives at all, which makes this a winner in my book!
HOMEMADE PUFF PASTRY OR BLITZ PUFF PASTRY:
The process is pretty straightforward to make the puff pastry at home. The flour, salt, cold unsalted butter, and ice cold-vinegar water are mixed together in a stand mixer for 2 minutes. The dough is allowed to rest in the fridge, wrapped up in a plastic wrap for an hour. And then we start the process of making the puff pastry. The idea of the rough puff or blitz puff is that the dough is blitz in the mixer, and then you give it 4 lamination turns, before rolling out the final dough into a puff pastry thickness, and use it for your tart.
Homemade puff pastry takes half a day to make from start to finish and it is not intimidating at all! Attempt it and you will see how easy the process is and how good, homemade puff pastry comes out to be!
Now, what are turns? You may ask?
When you have the dough ready after 1 hour’s rest, the gluten in the dough has rested, so the dough will be easy to roll out to form a good base for lamination. You have to roll out the dough into a 10×20 inch rectangle. You need a wide rolling pin for this task to go across the width of the dough when rolling out. The rolling motion has to be uniform, so that the thickness of the dough is consistent throughout the process. When rolling out the dough, after a couple of rolls, make sure to use a bench scraper, and the rolling pin to straighten out the edges from all the sides to form a perfect rectangle. This is essential to get uniformity at every step of the way. Use your hands to stretch the dough at the corners to level out the sides. The bench scraper is your most useful tool! I have a stainless-steel bench scraper that helps me a lot for various other tasks in the kitchen as well.
Once you roll out the dough, you have to do a business letter fold or a 3-letter fold where you fold one short edge two-thirds of the way on the dough, and then roll the other short edge overlapping the first fold, to form an even smaller rectangle with all the corners aligned. This is ONE TURN. You have to repeat this process of laminating the dough THREE MORE TIMES. This creates layers in the dough, with the butter encased between these layers. When the puff pastry hits the hot oven, the butter steams between the layers, lifting the layers up, and creating those signature puff pastry layers that you see from store-bought puff pastry. It is magic to see it happen, and just so satisfying when you make your own puff pastry dough and make the tart using the homemade puff pastry dough.
RESTING AND CHILLING THE DOUGH and the ASSEMBLED TART, AND THE COOL WEATHER:
Firstly, it is very important that the weather that you make the puff pastry dough in, is cooler weather, especially if this is your first time making homemade puff pastry. Weather plays an important part because you have to be quick at every step in the process, to ensure that the butter and the dough remain cold, so that rolling out the dough is easier and quicker. If the dough is not pliable and you feel you are unable to roll it with ease, then pop it into the fridge on a baking sheet for half an hour and then resume your activities again. Once you get used to the process, if you make it in the summer, be sure to keep the AC on, so that you can work through the puff pastry making process.
After the two turns, it is important to rest the dough so that the dough and butter remain cold. Hence, we pop it into the fridge for an hour. Then we remove it and get two more turns in. After which we again pop it into the freezer for an hour. Finally, we are able to use the puff pastry dough to roll it out into thin sheets and use it for our purpose. Even after rolling it out into thin sheets, I freeze it to ensure that the dough is cold when you are topping it with fillings. You want to make sure that every step of the way the dough is cold, the puff pastry is chilled. That will ensure the best results.
Even after adding the fillings/toppings on the tart, I freeze the entire tart for 10 minutes to set everything, before popping it into the oven to bake. This really helps to whole tart process. When you remove the tart after baking, and you look at the bottom crust, you can see it is golden brown in color and sturdy, because all the precautions were taken to ensure best results.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE FILLINGS/TOPPINGS:
Caramelized leeks are made by slow cooking the leeks, in Filippo Berio Olive Oil. I love adding toasted coarsely crushed coriander seeds to it, to give it an added flavor/aroma, and nuttiness from the coriander seeds. The leeks have so much flavor and added a wonderful element to the tart.
The butternut squash is spiced with Indian spices and also the wonderful Robusto Filippo Berio Olive Oil, which is full bodied and gives a wonderful punch to the sweet aromas of the butternut squash, along with the spices!
These flavors, along with the gruyere and fontina cheese make for such an amazing combination along with the homemade puff pastry, and a lovely treat to enjoy over a couple of days! This tart can be made as an appetizer, cut into squares, and served on a platter, OR as a main, with a larger square, and some arugula salad to go with it! It works either ways. I know it would be a huge hit at a small party and even for Thanksgiving, given the pandemic situation, and bring a little joy in this festive season.
I hope you get a chance to make this homemade puff pastry, and enjoy the therapeutic experience of making this tart for your family and your loved ones. If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it, on Instagram or on this blog post.