Quick Fixes for Pastry & Croutons
Pâte brisée, phyllo crusts and croutons are wonderfully versatile. If you're preparing any for the recipes in this story, make extra and try one of these ideas:
* pâte brisée (from Mitchel London's potpies and Sarah Lambert's quiche). Use this dough to make tarts of all sizes and shapes. It can also be rolled out and cut into 11/2 -inch rounds for hors d'oeuvres and topped before or after baking with any number of ingredients. Possible combinations for mini pizzas include marinara sauce and Gruyère; finely chopped ratatouille or caponata; mango chutney and Cheddar cheese; and smoked chicken or tuna salad. Or roll the dough about 3/4 inch thick, cut it into strips, brush it with egg wash and sprinkle it with grated Parmesan, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, fennel seeds or coarse salt and black pepper.
* phyllo crust (from François Payard's gnocchi in broth). Phyllo is a delicious topping for almost any soup or stew. For additional complexity of flavor, layer the sheets before baking with finely chopped pecans or pistachios or even minced drained sun-dried tomatoes. Rather than preparing the phyllo sheet as a topcrust, try cutting it into small squares or triangles; arrange them on a cookie sheet and bake them until browned. Serve these addictive crisps like savory tuiles with cocktails or alongside salads, egg dishes or soups.
* herbed croutons (from Leslie Mackie's tomato soup). These croutons would be great in a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and mint. They could also be used in a stuffing or crushed slightly and sprinkled on casseroles, macaroni and cheese or baked fish fillets. Or top the croutons with grated Parmesan or Pecorino and a dash of cayenne pepper and serve with cocktails.