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Asparagus and Egg Napoleon

This is a kind of mille-feuilles made with a quick rough-puff pastry, and filled with asparagus and scrambled egg. The pastry can be made several days in advance and crisped up before use.

ingredients

serves 6
350 g (12 oz) plain flour
good pinch salt
100 g (4 oz) cold butter or block margarine, diced
100 g (4 oz) cold lard or vegetable fat, diced
approx. 100 ml (7 tbsp) icy water
15 ml (3 tsp) lemon juice
beaten egg to glaze

for thr filling

24 spears cooked asparagus (fresh or canned)
75 g (3 oz) butter
9 eggs
150 ml (1/4 pt) single or double cream
salt and freshly ground pepper

method

1. First make the pastry. Lightly cut the fats into the flour and salt until the fats become thumb-nail size flakes.

2. Stir in the water and lemon juice using a round-bladed knife, adding more water if needed. You should have a soft but not sticky, lumpy-looking dough.

3. Wrap well and chill for about 30 minutes.

4. Sprinkle a work surface and rolling pin with flour, and carefully roll out the dough to a rectangle 38 x 13 cm (15 x 5 in).

5. Fold the top third of the pastry down and the bottom third of the pastry up to make a three-layered square of pastry.

6. Turn the pastry so the fold is on your left, and roll and fold the pastry as before. Wrap and chill for 15 minutes.

7. Repeat the rolling, folding and chill procedure twice more, so the pastry has been folded a total of 6 times.

8. Grease 2 large baking sheets. Roll out the pastry to a rectangle 35 x 23 cm (14 x 9 in) (or the length of your baking sheets), and 3 mm (1/8 in) thick.

9. Cut the rectangle in half to make 2 thin rectangles 35 cm (14 in) long.

10. Put on the baking sheets and prick well. Brush with beaten egg, then bake in the heated oven at 200°C (400°F) Gas 6 until golden and crispy — about 10 minutes.

11. Cool on a wire rack, then trim off the edges, and cut each sheet into 6 strips.

12. When ready to eat, gently warm the pastry and asparagus tips.

13. Melt the butter in a heavy pan.

14. Beat the eggs till frothy with half the cream and a little salt and plenty of pepper.

15. Tip into the pan and stir over low heat until the eggs are lightly scrambled.

16. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Stir in the rest of the cream.

17. Put a strip of pastry on each of 6 plates.

18. Divide the scrambled eggs between the pastry bases, then arrange 4 spears of asparagus on top of each.

19. Cover with the remaining pastry strips. Serve straight away.

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