Every once in a while, I experience a pang of homesickness for London. After all, nine months have passed since I cried my way from Notting Hill to somewhere over the mid-Atlantic and grinned my way from that point homeward. I’m totally allowed to wax nostalgic if I so choose.
In the midst of that dreary, gray weather, the sardine-packed Tube, and the labyrinth of stairs and hallways that defined my university, I found myself. My friend Maria said it more succinctly than I ever could:
When I first met you, I had the sensation that you were kind of a baby … in the sense that there was so much potential waiting to come to life. I only “knew” you for four months but during that time, I felt that you grew up a lot and, like with me, London is still crawling its ways into your soul and heart and brain and self and it’s still helping you grow up to this day. And I mean growing up as a full individual, not growing up to become the ‘grown-up’ with a job and a house and a husband. You can grow up to that, but grow up to yourself first.
Isn’t that a lovely sentiment? In many ways, London brought me to this blog, to this moment, because while I was there I used food to bring me home. Now that’s some kind of wonderful symbiosis.
And now I’m bringing myself back to London through the delightful medium of pastry dough.
In case you were not previously aware, the English are a savo(u)ry-pie-and-pastries people. Shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, pot pie, pie-pie. Frankly, I’m shocked/disappointed that we didn’t all run around in pastry crust like pigs-in-a-blanket, simultaneously shielding ourselves from cold and combating hunger.
English food is misunderstood, really, but wrapped in the comforting arms of flaky pastry, it comes out juuuuuust fine. (That’s more than I can say for the reputation of American food in other countries. Our few redeeming qualities include cupcakes, depending on whom you ask.)
This turnover recipe reminds me of London in all the best ways. Warm and buttery, with a surprise inside. Perfect for cold days in particular.
Butternut squash and mushroom turnovers
1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
3 leeks, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, destemmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 tablespoon dried thyme
14 ounces puff pastry, thawed
1-1/2 cups goat cheese or gruyere or a combination
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash on the sheet, drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake for about 25 minutes, until softened and starting to brown.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, add the leeks, and cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the thyme and cook for 2 minutes.
Season with the butternut squash with salt and pepper and toss with the butternut squash in a medium-sized bowl.
Using the same baking sheet, line with parchment paper. Roll out puff pastry dough on a floured surface until it’s about a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Cut pieces of pastry into squares, place a tablespoon or two of squash and mushroom mixture into the center of each, and top with cheese.
Brush beaten egg around the edges of the squares. Fold the pastry dough over to form triangles and crimp with your fingers or a fork.
Place completed turnovers on the baking sheet and brush with more egg. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until pastry dough is golden brown.
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