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Recipe of the Week: Use puff pastry to make these crispy stuffed triangles

Addie Broyles
These zucchini, asparagus and cauliflower triangles are from "The Pastry School" by Julie Jones.

Julie Jones makes pastries and cakes and tarts so beautiful, it’s easy to get lost scrolling through her Instagram posts of them.

She’s a UK-based baker (@julie_jonesuk if you want to follow her on social media) who has now written two cookbooks, “Soulful Baker,” published in 2017, and a new book called “The Pastry School: Sweet and Savoury Pies, Tarts and Treats to Bake at Home" ($39.99, Kyle Books), which guides us mere mortals as we attempt to make some of her masterful creations at home.

Although this is the season when we’re thinking about making elaborate tarts and pies to serve our loved ones at holiday gatherings, this year’s baking might look a little different, so I wanted to feature one of her savory recipes that you can make with store-bought or homemade puff pastry.

The book includes step-by-step photos of how to make each of the base pastries used in the recipes in the book, but puff pastry is one that many cooks can find in the frozen section of the grocery store. (If you want to try her technique, included is her recipe for a from-scratch sheet pastry, which she rolls and stretches on a pastry cloth.)

Jones uses the thin sheet of pastry to wrap a filling made with fava beans, zucchini, asparagus and cauliflower, but you could make the filling out of any veggie mixture. These fried (or baked) triangles would be a great way to use leftovers from Thanksgiving later this month.

Asparagus, Zucchini, Fava Bean and Cauliflower Triangles

The green vegetables within these triangles can be changed as the seasons pass. Asparagus and fava beans are my favorite; however, all of the long beans work well, as do fresh peas and Chinese cabbage. Really, the recipe is open for variation, as pretty much any vegetable would work. The triangles can also be baked if frying isn’t your thing, but if you do so, it is worth noting that the fresh taste of the vegetables will be lost somewhat, due to the longer cooking time required to crisp the pastry.

— Julie Jones

1 quantity puff pastry (homemade or store-bought)

Cornstarch, for dusting

Vegetable oil, for brushing

Fine salt and pepper

For the filling:

2 small zucchini, thinly sliced, lengthwise

4 to 6 asparagus spears, halved lengthwise

Oil, for searing

3/4 cup fava beans, fresh or frozen

1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets, coarsely chopped

2 spring onions, finely sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

Maldon salt and black pepper

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon chia seeds

1/4 teaspoon dried chile flakes (optional)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

For frying:

2 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Lemon wedges, to garnish

Yogurt dip:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon chia seeds

Maldon salt and black pepper

As the filling needs to be cold before use, make this first. Char the zucchini slices and asparagus halves by searing them in a hot pan drizzled with oil, then chop into small pieces and place in a large bowl.

In a pan of boiling salted water, blanch the beans for 2 minutes then plunge them straight into iced water. Add the cauliflower to the boiling water and cook until soft – this should only take a minute or two. Drain, and add to the zucchini and asparagus.

I prefer to remove the thick skin from fava beans, but this is optional and a stage you might wish to skip. Either way, add the fava beans to the other vegetables along with the spring onions. Mix in both the lemon juice and olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Add the poppy and chia seeds, chile flakes and parsley, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Leave to cool.

Make, rest and stretch the sheet pastry, then cut into long rectangles measuring 4 inches by 12 inches. Dust and rub the pieces with cornstarch, then cover with cling film until needed (though don’t make it too far in advance). Assemble the pastries, one at a time, and always keep the remaining sheet pastry covered while you do so, to prevent drying.

To assemble the triangles, position a pastry rectangle with a shorter side closest to you. Spoon some of the vegetable mixture onto the bottom left-hand corner, then flip the pastry over until the edges line up. Flip over six more times, creating a triangle. Secure the loose end with a little oil, then rest upon a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Repeat until all of the pastry has been used. If any vegetable mixture remains, simply eat alongside the finished dish as a salad.

Heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees, either in a suitable pan or deep-fat fryer. Ensure that the oil has reached the required temperature prior to frying so that the pastry cooks and turns golden quickly, keeping the vegetables inside as fresh-tasting as possible. Deep-fry the pastries in batches until the pastry is golden and beautifully crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning halfway, then drain on a paper towel. Keep warm until the rest of the pastries have been deep-fried. Sprinkle with salt and pepper while still hot.

To make the dipping yogurt, if using, simply mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, seasoning well. Serve the pastries immediately, with lemon wedges for squeezing over. Makes 10 to 12 pastries.

— From “The Pastry School: Sweet and Savoury Pies, Tarts and Treats to Bake at Home" by Julie Jones ($39.99, Kyle Books)

Sheet Pastry

Please don’t just flick past this page, making sheet pastry is simpler than you may think, and it is easier to achieve than filo, in the respect that it is stretched rather than rolled to paper-thin transparency. I’m not saying this pastry is a doddle, but it is something you’ll get better at with practice, and believe me, I say this from experience. The trick is to stretch the dough little by little, resting between each stretch until eventually an incredible sheet of see-through pastry lies before you. It is very satisfying once you have the knack, and totally worth the effort. You will need a lint-free cloth laid smoothly over a small table or similar. I use my coffee table, which has proven to be the perfect size for one quantity of dough.

— Julie Jones

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon fine salt

1 egg

3 1/2 ounces warm water, around 122 degrees

1 tablespoon canola oil, plus extra for rubbing

Place the flour, salt, egg, water and oil into a bowl and mix together using a fork. When the dough is mostly cohesive, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 3 minutes, stretching and pulling, rolling beneath hands.

When smooth, shape into a ball and rub all over with a little more oil, then wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. It is important to start the next process precisely after the 30-minute resting. I have found this to be the optimum time for the dough to be stretched.

Lightly yet evenly dust the tablecloth with flour. Place the ball of dough in the center of the table, dust with flour and start to roll out, trying to keep the shape rectangular. As the dough stretches, it is important to rest occasionally for 30-second intervals to allow the dough to relax, which makes rolling easier. Continue to roll until the surface area has at least doubled, after which time all further stretching must be done by hand.

Start the stretching by lifting an edge of the dough and gently and slowly pull the dough outwards, until it stretches. Move around to another area and do the same, continuing around the table until the pastry has stretched out toward its edges. Be patient, only returning to a previously stretched area after 30 seconds or more. Small holes or tears may appear, but worry not – a perfect stretch only comes with practice and usually these snags won’t be noticed when the pastry is used later.

Continue to stretch until the dough reaches the desired size. Allow the pastry to dry for 5 minutes before trimming all around the outer edge using a pizza wheel. Discard the excess.

Some recipes will call for the pastry to be rubbed with cornstarch or cut into sheets. Some will call for a lengthy drying time and others may need to be generously brushed with butter. Whatever the use, stand back and look at what you have created from a few basic ingredients and some patience.

— From “The Pastry School: Sweet and Savoury Pies, Tarts and Treats to Bake at Home" by Julie Jones ($39.99, Kyle Books)

"The Pastry School" is a new cookbook from Julie Jones that came out earlier this year.