I think everyone should keep a package or 2 of puff pastry in their freezer, ready to use at a moment's notice. I’m not talking about homemade puff pastry, but the stuff you can find in most grocery store freezers. Sure, the store bought stuff doesn’t compare with the rich, buttery flakiness of homemade, but let’s face it, making puff pastry is a time consuming process. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should try their hand at making puff pastry, but let’s face it, going out and buying it is much more convenient.
There seems to be this feeling that puff pastry is some “fancy” food. Sure, beautiful gastronomic delights can be created using puff pastry, but I like because it makes a quick and flaky crust to wrap around all sorts of everyday fillings. Wrap it around a couple pieces of Hershey’s dark chocolate and a teaspoon of raspberry jam for a quick and tasty dessert. Fill it with thick chili for a latin inspired “empanada” or fill it with a mixture of browned ground beef and vegetables for a British inspired “pasty.” The ideas are endless and definitely need not be high cuisine.
When I wrote up this recipe, originally, it was to help use up some stuff from our CSA box. We'd gotten a little behind in using up the stuff as we were gone on vacation for a week and the vegetables started to pile up. We had plenty of kohlrabi to use up and half a head of Napa cabbage that was starting to get a little limp. Because I wasn’t particularly in the veggie mood I decided to cook them up with a bit of ground beef making a great filling for individual “pies.”
While these taste great on their own you could serve these with some sort of dipping sauce. An herbed sour cream, horseradish sauce or even applesauce would make a companion to these little “hot pockets.”
Individual Beef and Vegetable Pies
makes 8 pies ( usually serve 2 per person although paired with a salad 1 would make a nice light lunch)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 head Napa Cabbage, shredded
1 1/2 cups kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed per directions on box
Blanch the kohlrabi in boiling, salted water until tender but not mushy (anywhere from 1-5 minutes depending on how tender it is). Shock in ice water to stop the cooking then drain. In a large skillet brown the ground beef along with the onion and the garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper. Once the beef is cooked drain off all the fat. Return beef mixture to skillet and add the cabbage along with 1 cup of water. Cook until the cabbage is tender and all the water has evaporated. Add the kohlrabi, dried thyme and worcestershire. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Check seasoning and adjust. Place in the fridge to cool completely.
Once the meat mixture is cool, unroll 1 sheet of puff pastry and cut into 4 equal squares (they will not be exact squares but don’t worry). Preheat the oven to 375°F. Working with 1 piece at a time, place 1/2 cup of the meat mixture into the center of the square.
Lightly brush the edges with a bit of water to dampen, then bring up 2 corners to form a triangle. Pinch the sides closed then use a fork to crimp the sides together to ensure that they don’t separate during baking.
Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of pastry then unroll the other sheet and repeat the process until you have 8 pies. Place onto 2 greased baking trays and place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes then rotate the trays and bake 10 minutes longer or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cook for 5 minutes before serving.