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Mustard & Gruyère Batons

The Challenge:

This week, we had two recipes, a dessert and this appetizer, Mustard & Gruyère Batons, which you can find here or on page 28 of Foolproof.

Lea's Take:

Weeeeellll, they sure do look pretty in the book. They don't exactly look like that when I made them (surprise!).

I'll start by saying I love puff pastry. [Mary: Hey, I was going to say that!] I don't use it, like, ever, but when someone makes something with puff pastry, I like it. Basically, if you serve me any bread-like substance, I'm yours forever. [Mary: Same.]

The recipe calls for frozen puff pastry, thawed and very cold. I did what it said, even though I passed by refrigerated puff pastry at our vanilla grocery store. I didn't want to mess it up. So, I waited a day to make the challenge so the frozen stuff could thaw. You're supposed to unfold it onto a "well-floured board", which, again, I did as it said. We don't have a "board" per se (Christmas gift idea #327) [Mary: Do you mean a wooden cutting board? I'll give you one of mine.] [Lea: Great! Cheap Christmas present!], so I used a pizza stone. Josh looked at me like I was crazy. It might've also been because I used A LOT of flour.

Again, you say well-floured, you're going to get well-floured.

The instructions were sorta easy to follow. I read them at least 3 times before I did anything (measure twice, cut once), and still had to ask Josh for advice.

"Does this look rectangle enough?"

"Do you think she means I put mustard on the entire bottom half of this pastry?" [Mary: Here are the instructions..."With a shorter end closest to you, brush the lower half of the pastry evenly with the mustard, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges." What's confusing?] [Lea: Hey, no one asked you.]

"Do you think this is a half-inch border?"

"Why do we have such a dumb pastry brush?"

Seriously, look at this thing. A) It's rubber, which means it just kind of pushes things around, doesn't really brush, and B) It has this flat rubber piece in the middle which also kind of pushes things around. (Christmas gift idea #328!)

Anyway, so I sort of pushed around the dijon mustard onto the entire bottom half of the pastry (I took a guess that yes, that's what she meant). Then I sort of pushed the egg wash around the border of the pastry and folded the top half over the bottom half. Easy-peasy.

Luckily, the recipe says to trim the irregular edges with a sharp knife. How did she know I was going to have irregular edges? It's like she's psychic! And then cut the pastry into 1 x 6-inch strips to make 10-12 batons (I made 11 - she's right again!).

See what I mean about the flour? Look at all that flour!

Then you have to push some egg wash around the tops of these batons and sprinkle evenly with the Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses and flaked sea salt.

I'm going to pause here to tell you that FLAKED sea salt is necessary for this recipe. I tried to find flaked sea salt at the vanilla grocery store, but guess what? They didn't have it. I did have regular sea salt in my house and used that instead.

Tip: Don't do this. But I'll get to that later.

Another tip: Make sure your cheeses are well blended before you sprinkle onto the batons. [Mary: Did I miss that instruction? I just sprinkled one and then the other.] [Lea: I mean, it says: "sprinkle evenly with the Gruyere, Parmesan, and 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt." I suppose you can take it however you want, but you are probably (always) right.] I wound up with mostly Gruyère because the Parmesan was at the bottom of my bowl. So, I just sprinkled the remaining Parmesan after and I don't think the cheese tastes were even.

(Definitely not like the book, but not terrible) [Mary: I think they look perfect.]

Mary's Take:

Doesn't puff pastry make everything look fancy? Like, you could make pigs-in-a-blanket with cocktail sausages and crescent rolls and they're fine...

...but wrap puff pastry around some sausage and now they're gour-maaay. [Lea: Heh.]

See what I mean? You even need a silver bowl for the dipping sauce!

What I'm getting at is this recipe, while super easy, comes out looking elegant and special. With the exception of the puff pastry, I usually have the rest of the ingredients on hand - even the Gruyère, which I buy at Costco (best price by far). I make a good bit of Barefoot Contessa recipes, and she uses it a lot.

What makes these great for a party is that they can be easily doubled (since they only make 12), are versatile (you like ham? add it!), and can be mostly made ahead and baked just before your guests arrive. I need more recipes like that in my life. When we have Sunday dinner at Lea's, Mom's, or our sister-in-law Meaghan's, the meals are ready when we get to their houses. Come to my house for Sunday dinner and we sit down about 45 minutes to an hour after everyone arrives. No matter how early I start.

Or maybe I subconsciously like a cocktail hour before dinner [Lea: Don't tell Mom that. She won't come over until 7.]...and if we sat down right when everyone arrived, I wouldn't have an occasion to have appetizers (which, you know, this is).

On a side note, I just read an interesting fact: Pepperidge Farm puff pastry is made with vegetable oil, but the Trader Joe's brand is made with butter. Which surely would make these little sticks even better. The TJ brand is only available seasonally, so go getcha some. I'm going to.

The Results:

Lea: Well mine were, as you can guess, SALTY. Like, almost-had-to-throw-them-out they were so salty. Josh decided they needed a dipping sauce, so he used honey. At first, I was all, honey?! Gaah! But, the honey was a nice sweet-and-salty (my favorite) combo. Besides the salt issue, I thought mine needed more mustard. I blame the brush.

Josh: It's good with the honey.

Mr. Picky Pants: Do I have to eat this? (After the honey): This is good. [Mary: OMGeeee, his first "good"! He's not being contrary on purpose!] [Lea: Well, of course, he liked it with honey. It's sweet.]

Mr. Good Eater (he had practice, so he ate after us): Were they supposed to be that salty? Mr. Picky Pants told me to add honey and they were much better.

Mary: I'm really sorry Lea's were salty; we loved them at my house. John called them delicious. They're a quick appetizer to whip up for a happy hour with the neighbors (keep an eye out for them, ladies! I have another sheet of puff pastry in the freezer!) and would be delicious with a cocktail.

As for today, if we have any left, we're going to finish them alongside our soup for dinner.

[Lea: We went over there for that soup and tried her batons. They were still salty, but not nearly as much as mine. [Mary: Maybe swap the salt flakes for pepper next time.] And see? Hers looks just like Ina's, positioning and everything! (Overachiever) [Mary: Hey, you noticed!]]

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Nov 17, 2020

Fun recipe....I also love puff pastry! Like the idea of serving these with soup!!

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