French Made Easy: Mustard Batons from Around My French Table
I use storebought puff pastry for these and so does every French person I know. And I use strong Dijon mustard, but you can use something milder. You can use grainy mustard or honey mustard or a mixture of mustards. You can even skip the mustard and brush the pastry with tapenade (olive puree) or pesto or grated cheese or pureed sun-dried tomatoes … or … or …
Oh, just a word on the batons in my picture. I sprinkled them with sesame seeds because there weren’t any poppyseeds (mentioned in the recipe) in the house. You can play around with the sprinkle as well. Once again, cheese is a possibility, as are finely chopped nuts, coarse salt, seaweed or … or …
I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
This gorgeous picture is by Alan Richardson and it comes from Around My French Table. The Mustard Batons (page 15) are in the glass, in the foreground are two Provencal Olive Fougasses (page 48), delicious and fun to make, and in the bowl are a selection of Herbed Olives (page 16). Every time I look at this picture, I want to be in it. I bet you understand.
Makes about 40 batons
Like Anne Leblanc’s startlingly simple avocado with pistachio oil (page 106), mustard batons are proof that it doesn’t take much to make something great tasting, and good looking too. I’m embarrassed to admit that I resisted this recipe for years. No less than three friends told me I had to try it, but looking at the ingredient list — puff pastry, Dijon mustard, and an egg for the glaze — I just couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm to bake a batch. It wasn’t until I was at a party in Paris and tasted the slender strips that I ran home and made them myself. They’re a terrific hors d’oeuvre and they’re make-aheadable.
The only caveat is to make sure your mustard packs some punch — these are best when the mustard is strong.
All-purpose flour, for rolling
2 sheets frozen puff pastry (each about 8½ ounces), thawed
½ cup Dijon mustard
1 large egg
Poppy seeds, for topping (optional)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Have a ruler and a pizza cutter (or sharp knife) at hand.
Working with 1 sheet of pastry at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until you have a rectangle that’s about 12 x 16 inches. If necessary, turn the dough so that a short side of the rectangle is closest to you. Measure the length so that you can find the middle, and spread ¼ cup of the mustard over the lower half of the dough, stopping about 1/8 inch from the side and bottom edges. Fold the top portion of the dough over the bottom and, using the pizza cutter (or knife), with your ruler as a guide, cut the pastry from top to bottom into strips about 1 inch wide (I actually use the width of the ruler itself as my guide), then cut the strips crosswise in half. (If you prefer, you can leave the strips long.)
Carefully transfer the batons to one of the baking sheets and chill or freeze them while you work on the second batch. (You can make all the strips to this point and freeze them on the baking sheets, then pack them airtight and keep them frozen for up to 2 months.)
Lightly beat the egg with a splash of cold water and brush just the tops of the strips with this glaze. If you’d like, sprinkle them with poppy seeds.
Bake the batons for 8 minutes. Rotate the sheets from front to back and top to bottom and bake for another 7 or 8 minutes, or until the strips are puffed and golden brown. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the batons rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
These are especially good with white wine or kir, the official aperitif of Dijon.
Unbaked batons can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months and baked while still frozen. Brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle them with the poppy seeds, if using them, just before baking.
Tapenade Batons. Spreading the puff pastry with tapenade, homemade or store-bought, will give you savory strips that are great on a summer’s evening with an iced rosé. Before folding over the puff pastry, I like to sprinkle the tapenade with grated lemon zest and/or grated Parmesan; other good add-ins are teensy slivers of roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes, paper-thin slices of onion, and toasted sliced almonds.