One of the best things I’ve made: Celebration Puff

This is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever made. It’s flaky, slightly sweet and perfectly savory.

I’m at the VA right now, and I’ve had a little bit of time to let my mind wander on my off-call days and as it frequently does, my mind goes to food. What spices? What flavors? What textures? Part way through a run, where my dog was pulling me down the neighborhoods, I saw a huge basil plant and thought huh, that would make a nice base to a puff. Then I came home and saw some sweet potatoes I had bought for a curry and thought huh, that would go well with some smoked paprika. And off the races (or the ovens as it were) I went! The first bite was blissful. The next day it was just as good. The celebration puff makes a great centerpiece or a simple dinner with leftovers.

Celebration Puff
serves 2-4 depending on appetite and if it’s the only part of the meal

Smoked paprika coated sweet potatoes

1 puff pastry, thawed in the fridge
3-4 tablespoons of basil pesto 1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 sweet potato, thinly sliced and baked at 425 for 10 minutes coated in olive oil and smoked paprika1 red onion, thinly chopped and caramelized
6-7 baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
5 stalks of asparagus, hard ends cut off, and the remaining part coarsely chopped
A few sprigs of marjoram
2 tablespoon butter, melted with granulated or fresh chopped garlic mixed in
Optional: 2 field roast italian “sausages” (vegetarian protein)

First preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Then saute the mushrooms and the asparagus together until soft, salt and pepper to taste. Add in the mushrooms.

Put all your ingredients into bowls (the asparagus/mushroom mixture, the caramelized onions, the thinly sliced sweet potatoes)

Roll out the puff pastry so you can easily divide it into three parts (about three palms across). Then start layering!

First thinly spread out your pesto, then layer on your sweet potatoes, then the caramelized onions, then the mushroom/asparagus mixture, then the field roast, and finally the parmesan cheese.

After your layers are done, then you start braiding. Watch the video if you don’t know

how. Essentially, on the remaining thirds of the puff, you cut about 2 inch strips, and then braid the strips over the filling. When the braiding is done, brush the butter/garlic mixture on the outside, transfer it to the baking sheet gently and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.

When it’s done, it’s important to transfer it to a wire grate to cool so the oil/condensation doesn’t make the bottom of the puff soggy. Let it cool and serve hot or cold!

Use this as a stepping stone for other fillings. Try preserved basil, feta, preserved lemon, spiced bulgur. Try sour cream, soyrizo, blended cheese, sauteed bell peppers, and chopped cilantro. But first time this one — the blend is pretty great.


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