There's something about puff pastry

December 17 2014

With its buttery flavour, satisfying crunch and beautiful layers, puff pastry is one of those ingredients that can really make a dish something special - and it's especially popular during the holiday season. From simple starters to delectable desserts, there are many ways to incorporate puff pastry into your menu during the festive period and throughout the rest of the year. Here are just a few ideas. 
Appetizing appetizers
A good appetizer sets the scene for what's to come and gets diners excited about the main course, so it's important to make sure that you introduce some bold flavours with a dish that's not too heavy. After all, no one wants to be full before the main course arrives. Puff pastry is therefore an ideal ingredient for a mouth-watering starter.
Try miniature tarts with festive fillings like stilton and figs or brie and cranberries, or serve savoury empanadas with chicken and chorizo, spiced beef or spinach and ricotta. Puff pastry is also perfect for creating tempting canapes, from classic vol-au-vents to pretty pinwheels and palmiers.
Pies and wellingtons
Pies are the ultimate in comfort food, and at this time of year that's what many of your diners are craving. Satisfy their desire for something warm and carbohydrate-heavy by experimenting with pie fillings and topping your creations with beautiful, buttery puff pastry that crunches delicately as you break though it with your knife and fork.
Like soup, the possibilities for pie fillings are endless. Turkey is an obvious choice for the holiday season. Try teaming it with sweet leeks or Brussels sprouts and chestnuts and a pinch of nutmeg. Puff pastry also makes for fantastic wellingtons. There is the classic beef version with mushrooms and prosciutto, but you also could try a seasonal turkey wellington with brie and cranberries.
Delicious desserts
Puff pastry is as delicious with sweet dishes as it is with savoury, and desserts really take centre stage during the festive period. Tarts are a classic puff pastry dessert and there are so many flavours you can bring together. There's strawberry and balsamic, peach and honey or classic apple and cinnamon, or you could attempt some brand new combinations.
Turnovers can also be a delicious addition to your menu. Spiced pumpkin may make a wonderful festive filling, while other options include blueberries, cherries and lemon curd. And of course, napoleons, cornucopias and sugary pastry twists are all wonderful ways to make puff pastry one of the stars of your holiday menu.
Pastry with added oomph
Traditionally, when you use puff pastry all of the flavours in your dish will be found beneath the pastry or wrapped inside it, like a crispy parcel waiting to be unwrapped. But have you considered incorporating flavour into the pastry itself? If you make your own, this can be a great way to give it that extra little something.
For sweet dishes, you could add extra flavour with cinnamon whirling gently through your pastry. Lemon zest will also provide a delicious zing. For savoury pies, wellingtons and puffs, seasoning your flour with herbs can take your pastry to the next level, while spices such as cumin and curry powder can work brilliantly with Asian-inspired dishes.