The first of each month has been pretty much the same for me for the past year and a half….I grab my morning coffee and head straight to the Daring Kitchen to see what is in store.  This month we were given…

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.DSC_0512

As is often the case, we were given some freedom to play.  The puff pastry obviously is the star of this show, and Steph did a great job of explaining it here.  So I will not go into a lot of detail regarding it, other than to say it is really not a difficult endeavor!!  It is true that I more often than not buy puff already made but I do make it as well and always am I pleased when I do so.

What then, you wonder, am I going to tell you about then….

The supporting cast, of course.

Vols au vent are a puff pastry shell which are filled….and filled with a multitude of options.  My intial thought was to make a pumpkin praline mousse to fill small leaf shaped shells and then finish that off with a cinnamon caramel drizzle…..didn’t happen!!!

The weekend I decided to go for it and tackle the DB challenge happened to be a beautiful mid september weekend.  Crisp and cool yet sunny and bright…I could “smell” the leaves turning color….a wonderful weekend to get in the kitchen and play.  Truth be told, I had quite a few kitchen “projects” planned.  I needed to make a supply of my “world famous” pasta sauce and I wanted to dive into something that I have been afraid of for some time, you can read about that here, and of course puff pastry.

Saturday was a day of getting things in place…my sauce is an all day affair and I also had tons of prep for the DB challenge and my other project.  Sunday arrived, my sauce was “put up”, my fears had been put to rest and my puff pastry had been “turned”, now it was dinner time!!

As I said earlier, initially I was going to go for more of a dessert for the challenge but again dinner was calling, what to do?  The weather was still holding, the air crisp and I kept thinking how much I Love this time of the year…the warm spices, the tart green apples, the little bit of a chill that calls for something comforting, and then I favorite little cafe on the southside came to mind.  The 1889 Cafe does a great stuffed breast of chicken that I thought, if broken down, could be morphed into a great savory, comforting filling for fresh from the oven puff pastry shells.

The inspiration is a chicken breast stuffed with sausage, apples and raisins with a white wine reduction as a topper…easy to break down!!!!  Now my cooking style is not one to follow a recipe, I am a pinch of this, dusting of that kind of cook…..so please bear with these “instructions” ( although I promise if you give it a go, you will make it one of your favorites).DSC_0507DSC_0508DSC_0509

Start with 1/2 lb breakfast sausage, brown and remove to paper towels to drain.  Cube 3 boneless skinless chicken breast and brown add 1/2 of a medium onion diced and continue till chicken is cooked through and onions are translucent, remove and set aside.  Chop 3 granny smith apples into bite size pieces and caramellize in pan, have patience with this step…let the apples get a nice color on them.  While all of this has been going on I plumped about 1/4 cup raisins in a spiced Riesling, when the apples  have caramellized nicely, remove them and deglaze the pan with the excess wine from the raisins. scraping all the “bits” from the pan.  I then added 1 1/2 cups chicken stock  and brought it to a boil, I then added the chicken, onions and sausage and lowered the flame to a simmer.  Let this reduce by half, then add the raisin, apples, a touch of salt, pepper, sage, cinnamon and 1/4 cup heavy cream bring to temp.  Remove from flame and then “swirl” in 4oz butter, ladle this into fresh out of the oven pastry shells!!!  Enjoy!!!

I served this with a crisp greens salad topped with butternut squash croutons and a lite drizzle of cider vinegar.  Warm, comforting and well worth the “turns”, alas Autumn has arrived!

For the Love of Autumn

For the Love of Autumn