Monday, 11 June 2012

Asparagus, Ham & Cheese "Danish"

These are very simple, almost plain, so it's important to use a good, flavourful cheese and high quality ham (or other meat). I used turkey, and while it was pleasant I think it was a bit too mild - ham would have been better. The cheese was extra-old Cheddar which I can eat any time of the day or night and be glad, but an Emmental or Provolone type cheese would work well instead.

Sharp observers will note that I've used this dough before. I just get more and more pleased with it. It's easier to work with than regular pie dough and flakier too.

I just served these with the extra asparagus as lunch, but if you made them smaller they would make a good appetizer.

1 hour - 30 minutes prep time

Asparagus Ham and Cheese Danish

Make the Dough:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups soft whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

The butter should be very soft. Mix it with the oil and milk. The butter can be in fairly large lumps.

Mix the baking powder and salt into the flour. Mix the flour into the wet ingredients. Stir until everything is amalgamated. There should no longer be large lumps of butter, but small lumps or streaks are not only fine, but good.

Turn the dough out on a piece of parchment paper that will fit your baking tray. Knead the dough a few times until it forms a definite ball of dough. Divide it into equal quarters.

Using extra flour to keep it from sticking, roll each quarter into a square about 6" x 6".

Finish the "Danishes":
16 spears of asparagus
200 grams (7 ounces) thinly sliced cooked ham, chicken or turkey
100 grams (4 ounces) strongly flavoured cheese (see above)

1 teaspoon rubbed basil or oregano

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Wash and trim the asparagus, and drain well. Lay one quarter of the sliced ham or other meat in the middle of one of the squares of dough. There should be an inch, or better an inch and a half, of dough on either side of the meat. If not, trim it to fit. The trimmings can be arranged over the main slices. Top it with the cheese, cut in a neat rectangle that should not be any closer to any edge than an inch and a half, or else you can count on half of it running out when it bakes. Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon of the basil or oregano, and top with 4 spears of asparagus.

Fold up the sides of the dough and pinch them closed over the top the filling ingredients. Repeat with the remaining sections of dough. Once they are all made, put your piece of parchment paper into the baking tray and arrange the pastries on it. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

If you have more than 16 spears of asparagus - and of course you do, because lets admit that 4 asparagus spears is not a serving, it's just a tease - arrange them around the pastries, brush with a little oil, and let them bake with the pastries.

Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Last year at this time I made Asparagus & Yellow Pea Soup, Cornbread or Muffins, and Apricot or Peach Sorbet.

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