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September 25, 2013

Versatile dough a delicious pocket for curried potatoes

Puffed pastry dough is a totally underappreciated ingredient, at least as far as time-crunched families are concerned. It’s so versatile and easy to use, I’m not sure why it isn’t in the rotation in more homes.

Let’s start with breakfast. Unfold a sheet of it, cut it into quarters, then spoon something into the center of each. That something could be almost anything — chopped fresh apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar (or even jarred applesauce if that’s all you’ve got), fresh berries, red grapes, sliced peaches, even just a spoonful of jam.

Fold one side of each quarter over on itself, then use a fork to crimp the sides together. Pop them on a baking sheet, then bake for 12 or so minutes at 400 degrees. Done. They even can be prepped, then refrigerated overnight and just baked off in the morning. And any extras pack great for lunch.

At dinner, you can take the same approach, but opt for savory fillings. A bit of ham and some grated cheese are perfect. And perfectly speedy. Toss in some broccoli florets, and it’s a complete meal.

Or cut the pastry sheets into 1-inch-wide strips and lay them across whatever casserole you are baking. They will brown and puff into a beautiful, flaky crust. Or don’t even bother to cut it into strips. Just lay the whole sheet over the casserole, crimp off the edges, cut in a steam vent or two, then bake.

One tip about working with puff pastry — you need to let it thaw fully before using (it is sold frozen alongside the pastry and pie supplies). You can do this at room temperature for 30 or so minutes. Or do what I do — pop the entire package in the refrigerator the night before. It will be good to go for breakfast or dinner the next day.

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