Pastry Turnovers with Butternut Squash, Leeks and Thyme

So it went like this:

Upon crossing the threshold of Greens*, I see a chef, complete with white coat, speaking to a couple.  I recognize her face, but consider that I may be mistaken.  She sees me as I quickly glace at her left lapel, to discover, indeed in a lovely script, the name Annie Somerville.  I look back at her face, now with a giant--if dopey--grin on my own.  She sees that I have not only recognized her, read her name, and had my recognition confirmed, but that I have fully entered into pure fandom.  She looks away.  I do not.  I try to act cool.  I practically skip to our table.  I try to pull myself together.

*After a round of drinks at The Interval at Long Now, and people, that place is awesome. Besides the very tasty daiquiri that I had, I was delighted by the Clock of the Long Now and an inspiring library.

View from our table.  Not bad.

That was how I spent my 40th birthday at Greens.  I have never been cool.

(Oh, and I ate amazing mushroom ravioli, fig and watercress salad, and chocolate cake).  But mostly, I saw Annie Somerville.  And most of you know how much I love Greens and their cookbooks.

So this week, I made these.  And they are divine.  Flaky and savory and satisfying.

The wonderful part about these pastries is that you really can fill them with any combination you have tucked in the fridge. Don't be afraid to stray from the vegetarian options--I imagine chicken, onions, mushrooms, and fontina would be great, but so would fennel, onions, potatoes, and pecorino. We went with the recommended squash, leeks, and thyme, which is useful, given that it's turning into squash season with the CSA box. We have to keep finding ways to use the squash (so be prepared for some squash recipes, people).

Confession:  we used duck fat in the pastry dough. And it was good. Do not judge. Instead, try it for yourself and then feel free to judge.

Finally, heavily salt and pepper the filling and add a good deal of thyme--as the taste needs to come through the very tasty (especially when you use duck fat) pastry dough.

One Year Ago: Raw Artichoke and Herb Salad

Pastry Turnovers with Butternut Squash, Leeks and Thyme
Adapted from Annie Somerville's Fields of Greens

4 turnovers

For the tart dough
2 cups unbleached white flour
3/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 Tbsp shortening*
5-6 Tbsp ice water

     *We used duck fat.  I know, I know, it's not vegetarian, but it was so good.

For the filling 
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 pounds squash (I used a combination of kabocha and butternut), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (3 cups)
salt and pepper
fresh thyme sprigs (3-4)
2 large leeks, white parts only, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced (3 cups)
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine or 1/8 cup champagne vinegar combined with 1/8 cup water
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

For assembly
Flour for rolling out
1 egg
2 Tbsp water
3-4 ounces Gruyere, grated (about 1 cup)

To make the pastry dough:
1.  Use the paddle attachment and keep the machine on low speed throughout the mixing process. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of the mixer. Add half of the cubed butter and mix until it is incorporated into the flour. Follow with the shortening and the remaining butter. Add 5 tablespoons water and work the dough until it holds together. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of water if the dough is dry and doesn't hold together. Shape the dough into 4 equal-sized disks, cover with wax paper or plastic wrap, and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using (overnight it fine).

To make the filling:
2.  Combine 2 cloves of chopped garlic with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Set aside for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3.  Place the cubed squash in a baking dish and toss with the garlic oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few pinches of pepper. Add thyme sprigs, cover, and bake until the squash is tender but still holds its shape, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. 

4.  Meanwhile heat the remaining tablespoons of oil in a large skillet; add the leeks, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few pinches of pepper, and add the dried thyme. Sauté over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until the leeks begin to soften. Add the remaining garlic and cover the pan, allowing the leeks to steam. When tender, after about 8 minutes, add the wine (or vinegar and water) and cook until the pan is nearly dry.
5.  Gently toss the squash and leeks together with the fresh thyme. Season with salt and pepper: the filling should be well seasoned.

To assemble:
6.  Remove the dough disks from the refrigerator and roll each into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Whisk the egg and water together to make an egg wash. Place 2/3 cup of the filling in the center of each pastry circle and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the grated cheese. Brush the edge of the turnovers lightly with water, then fold the dough over the filling and gently press the edges together. Crimp the edge and place the turnovers on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush lightly with egg wash, being sure to brush the edges. Cut 3 1-inch slits in the top of each turnover. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the pastry turns golden brown. If desired, pass the turnovers under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to brown the tops a little more. Serve with a salad (Somerville suggests a salad of bitter greens, pears, and toasted walnuts, tossed in a walnut vinaigrette.)


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