Cooking is fun! But cooking for a man is tough. Cooking for a man who you love is even tougher. With a heart that wants to feed him the most tasteful thing in the world. But besides the things they always crave like burgers, fried chicken, and pizzas. We all know too many of them is pure unhealthy. It gets difficult, some nights, when your creativity just blank out on you.
This time, I turned to W to pick a dish as I handed him a baking recipe book. “How about this sausage and feta pies?” W answered as he pointed at the picture. I read through the ingredient list and nodded, “Okay, sure. I will make these for dinner.” I agreed to it, partially, was because we still had some Italian sausage in the fridge as well as other ingredients. A short trip to the grocery to pick up some feta cheese was more than doable.
As an amateur to baking (the same for cooking), I didn’t dare to imagine how the pies would turn out. Pâte Brisée is one of the many things I haven’t make before. Not knowing when to stop cutting the butter into the flour was a challenge. Not knowing how stickiness the dough should get was another challenge. But when the crust turned out just the way I wished it, flaky, the joy of conquering was satisfying and overwhelming I laughed out loud, with an evil tone to it (didn’t know why).
I begin to like playing with flour. And am ready for the next challenge.
Italian Sausage and Feta Pocket Pies adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Pâte Brisée aka The Crust
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water, more if needed
In a bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, like I did, combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, then cut into butter with a pastry blender. Mixture should resembles coarse crumbs and grainy.)
With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. (To mix by hand, add the water in a circular motion while one hand combines the dried dough together.) Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
1 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh flat-lead parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 egg, lightly beaten
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble sausage into pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet along with the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, for 4 minutes. Add red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they release their juices, about 4 – 5 minutes. Add the reserved sausage, and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and let cool completely. Stir in feta cheese and parsley. Set filling aside.
Preparation the Pocket Pies
Preheat the over to 425F, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper (on top of a cutting board), roll out one piece of dough to a 16×11 inch rectangle. Trim to 15×10 inch. Cut into six 5×5 squares.
With a dry pastry brush, sweet off excess flour. Place 1/2 cup filling in the center of each square.
Fold up all four corners around the filling, so that the points meet in the center but do not touch (leave about 1/4 inch of space between them.) Repeat with remaining piece of dough and filling. Transfer to prepared baking sheets carefully.
Brush tops of dough with the beaten egg. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until pies are golden brown and filling is set, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm.
A Few Notes:
- For the flakiest crust, make sure all ingredients (including the flour) are cold before you begin.
- The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
- If want to bake half a dozen, place the rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 25 minutes.