I’ve been crazy busy, but just because I can’t seem to find my desk (or even my keys for that matter) doesn’t mean that I haven’t taken breaks to cook and bake and have friends in. Never mind that these nibblers are so quick to make that you don’t get much of a break …
The recipe comes from my book, Around My French Table, and it’s a favorite of mine for so many reasons:
It’s startlingly easy, chic and delicious.
It requires only 3 ingredients – puff pastry, mustard and egg for the glaze – and you can keep them all on hand. In fact, you might already have them.
You can make the bâtons ahead and stick them in the freezer, so they’re ready to bake ‘on demand’ in small or large quantities.
It so very much in keep ing with today’s style of French home cooking: it’s a dish that’s elegant but easy, unfussy but good looking, and one that’s fun to eat: it’s finger food of the type that invites après-eating finger licking. And any time you can lick your fingers in polite company is a good time.
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 bâtons in my picture. I sprinkled them with sesame seeds because there weren’t any poppy seeds (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.
The gorgeous picture at the top is by Alan Richardson and it comes from Around My French Table. The Mustard Bâtons (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 bâtons
Like Anne Leblanc’s simple avocado with pistachio oil (page 106), mustard bâtons 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 bâtons 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 bâtons 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 bâtons rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
Serving: These are especially good with white wine or Kir, the official aperitif of Dijon.
Storing: Unbaked bâtons 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.