The Friday nights of my childhood typically meant a meatless supper and my aunt and uncle stopping by the house for a cup of coffee and a chat after they’d hit the local Price Chopper for groceries. She was the school nurse and he worked long hours at the paper mill in town, so my own married middle-aged self realizes the standing shopping date might have been more about reconnecting after a long week than simply refilling the cupboards left bare by their own four kids’ appetites. Maybe that’s why they always seemed to be in a good mood when they arrived at our house. I was always happy to see them, especially when they brought Pepperidge Farm popovers.

The popovers baked in the time it took a 10-cup pot of coffee to brew — the puff pastry exterior the perfect foil for the oozy raspberry jam inside. It wasn’t until I went to culinary school that I fully understood where puff pastry got its name.

Laminated dough is made by folding butter into dough multiple times to create very thin, alternating layers of butter and dough. The result, when baked, is hundreds of flaky, airy strata. Classically French, proper puff pastry needs the best butter you can buy, and a couple of days, too, as the dough must be chilled between additions. I’ve only made true laminated dough by hand once, in culinary school. That dough turned into semi-successful croissants.

While the Internet is teeming with recipes for quick puff pastry (my favorite is outlined in the recipe here), the majority of the commercial stuff available these days is made by machine – creatively called a laminator – and sold in the freezer section of most grocery stores. You have three main retail choices: Dufour Classic Puff Pastry ($11.99 for 14 ounces), Trader Joe’s All Butter Puff Pastry ($3.99 for 18 ounces), and Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets ($4.50-$5 for 17.25 ounces). The first two are made from all butter (and come in some plastic packaging), and Pepperidge Farm’s version contains vegetable shortening (but its wrapping is all recyclable paper).

I’m not here to tell you which brand is best as I’ve enjoyed working with and eating all three. Instead, I’m here to tell you that having a box (or a batch if you’re making your own) in the freezer can help you reduce food waste this holiday season because puff pastry can turn almost any leftover in the fridge into a festive, holiday food. And once most puff pastry treats are fashioned into shape, they can be frozen, then pulled out of the freezer, thawed in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, brushed with a bit of beaten egg, and baked in a 375 degree oven whenever you need them.

Didn’t finish up that cranberry sauce yet? Fashion the pastry into cups, add a dollop each of cranberry sauce and goat cheese and sprinkle of chopped nuts for an easy appetizer for your work holiday party. Use the remains of the sausage not used in the Thanksgiving stuffing to make sausage rolls for Christmas Day breakfast. Place a generous spoonful of raspberry jam in the middle of 4-inch squares of pastry and make turnovers for when relatives stop by for coffee after a day of holiday shopping. Turn the remains of Christmas Eve’s Feast of the Seven Fishes into Boxing Day fish pie with puff pastry crust. To avoid drinking New Year’s Eve champagne on an empty stomach, cut a puff pastry sheet into strips, brush them with butter and sprinkle with shredded cheese and chopped fresh herbs to enjoy before you swear off booze or butter for a better 2020.

CHRISTINE BURNS RUDALEVIGE is a food writer, recipe developer and tester, and cooking teacher in Brunswick, and the author of “Green Plate Special,” a cookbook from Islandport based on these columns. She can be contacted at [email protected]

Easy, or at least easier, puff pastry sausage rolls. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Puff Pastry Sausage Rolls

This quick puff pastry recipe is adapted from one published on King Arthur Flour’s website. Two sheets of commercial puff pastry will work well in this recipe as well. For a little spice, use Mexican chorizo sausage instead of the sweet Italian called for.

Make 30 rolls

2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup (16 tablespoons, 227g) cold unsalted butter, cut into pats

1/2 cup (113g) sour cream

2 eggs, beaten

1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

¼ cup grated fresh onion

2 tablespoons grated fresh garlic

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

Flaky Maine sea salt

To make the dough, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the butter, working it in with your fingers to make a coarse, crumbly mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces. Stir in the sour cream; the dough won’t be cohesive. Turn it out onto a floured work surface, bring it together with a few quick kneads.

Pat the dough into a rough log and roll it into an 8- x 10-inch rectangle. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter. Flip the dough over, give it a 90-degree turn on your work surface, and again roll it into an 8- x 10-inch rectangle. Fold it in three again.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before using. (NOTE: You can freeze dough for up to 2 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.)

To make the sausage rolls, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of beaten egg with 1 tablespoon water and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the remaining egg, sausage, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, thyme and mustard powder.

Cut the puff pastry dough in half. On a floured surface roll each half into a 10- x 15-inch rectangle. Cut each piece into three (5-inch) strips. Divide the sausage mixture into 6 equal parts. Form each section of sausage into a roll and place 1 in the center of each puff pastry strip. Fold the pastry over and press seam to seal. Cut each roll into five (2-inch) pieces.

Chill rolls for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours. (NOTE: you can freeze the rolls at this juncture for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking.)

To bake, place the sausage rolls on the baking sheets with at least an inch separating them. Brush the tops of each with reserved egg wash and a bit of flaky salt. Bake until the sausage is cooked through and the pastry is puffed and golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Serve sausage rolls warm.

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