The both of us like spending alot of time in the kitchen for entirely separate reasons from each other. There are certain things that he does effortlessly and enthusiastically while I can't imagine those things to ever appear on my list of favorite things to do. He tells me how to peel a garlic effectively. He demonstrates to me the technique of curling the fingers when slicing a cucumber in order to prevent the sharp knife from cutting the fingers. He also shows me the technique of peeling ginger with the back of a knife. And I'll tell him, oh cool. And then it never sticks with me. How to tell if a vegetable with garlic stir fry dish was prepared by him or me? If the garlic is delicately and finely chopped, he made that dish. If you see big slices of garlic (but still good enough, to me), I probably made that dish. His babies are his ceramic knife, Green Pan, and ceramic pan-- some of them I'm not supposed to touch. The latest disaster was me ruining his ceramic pan while cooking. He went out and bought another one.
There are certain things that I don't even have to think twice about doing now because they happen almost automatically to me but to T it's entirely the opposite. While I think that dicing onions are hard work, he thinks that measuring precisely flour, sugar, and butter are hard work. I show him the result of stiff egg whites that have formed a peak after they've been whipped under high speed and he would go wow how did that happen. I tell him that when making chiffon cake, you have to be so careful and delicate when folding in the egg whites into the batter so that air cannot escape from the batter because if it did, the cake will not rise. He'll say oh cool, but anything related to the words batter, dough, and pastry will probably never be something that he would ever be remotely interested in working with.
It just comes down to the fact that he loves cooking and I love baking. He will make us perfectly pan seared salmon and he will make us seasoned chicken breast that is perfectly seared on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. But he stays away from baking or anything that requires working with dough or pastry. His favorite celebrity chef is Ming Tsai who is known for his East meets West cuisine. T's favorite story is how Ming Tsai competed in Iron Chef America against Bobby Flay and Ming Tsai won the battle. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Ming Tsai once said that the first course students learn are the techniques of pastry making. The fundamentals of pastry making require so much attention to detail that if a student can first master these fundamentals, they will be better prepared for the other courses on cooking itself. So there you go, T became inspired and commented that in order for one to be a great chef, he or she has to be able to understand the fundamentals of something other than just cooking itself.
We were at Whole Foods last night and while deciding what to make for today's lunch, T said let's get some frozen puff pastry and I'll stuff them with some tuna. Earlier he had watch Ming Tsai on YouTube preparing puff pastry on one of his shows. T made the entire meal almost by himself working with the puff pastry. I only helped him to brush some softened butter over the pastry before they were put into the oven so they would brown nicely. Sure, it's no brainer working with frozen prepared puff pastry but this is something for T!
While you can easily find Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry in your local grocery stores, I highly recommend the brand Dufour which can be found in specialty grocery stores (Whole Foods carries them). The quality and taste of Dufour's puff pastry is much better as it is made from real butter. I first learnt about Dufour from Dorie Greenspan's book where she said Dufour is so good she stopped making puff pastry from scratch.
This is so simple to prepare there really is no specific measurements to it. Adjust amount according to own preference.
Puff pastry, frozen and thawed
Butter, softened at room temperature
Good quality canned tuna
Olive oil (use only if canned tuna is packed in water)
Italian parsley, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, slice the thawed pastry into squares and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With a knife, lightly create indentation lines that make up the shape of a smaller square in the middle of the slice. Be careful not to slice the smaller square all the way to the bottom of the pastry. You just want to make the indentation.
2. Lightly brush each slice with softened butter.
3. Bake the pastry in the oven for 15 minutes or until the surface is nicely brown.
4. Meanwhile, put the tuna in a bowl. If the canned tuna is packed with water, drain the water before putting in the bowl. Add some olive oil so that the tuna will not be too dry. Mix together the chopped parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. When the puff pastry is removed from the oven, with a small knife carefully cut out the top part of the small squares following the indentations that were created earlier. Then fill each of the pastry shells with the tuna. Carefully place the small cutout squares over the filled shells.