My first encounter with cookbook author Virginia Willis was back in January at the very first session of Food Bog South here in Birmingham. She had given a great presentation alongside Allison Lewis on recipe development, which for a new blogger like me, I found very valuable. What stood out to me about Virginia was how warm and down to earth she was. You could sense her passion for what she does. For me, writing a recipe is my favorite part. I love that moment where you scribble down little notes on paper and imagine how great a flavor combination would be. It’s the best chance to be creative and once you execute your own recipe you have a moment of epiphany when your creations were beyond what you could have imagined. I had learned a lot from Virginia on the whole process of developing a recipe and the important steps to take in documenting the whole experience.
As a transplant to the South, or what some may call a “Yankee”, I treasure my collection of fabulous Southern cookbooks by great Southern chefs. I’ve learned so much through cooking in the South: about how important it is to cook for close friends and cherising the meaningful relationships that are built around the table. Southern cuisine has so much soul that after one bite you can feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I have been one of the lucky ones to receive a copy of Virginia’s new book, “Basic To Brilliant, Y’all” and to be a participant in her virtual food blogger potluck. I had spent one fabulous afternoon in the kitchen with good friend and fellow Birmingham food blogger, Christy Turnipseed. The both of us had a wonderful time cooking a few of Virginia’s new recipes together. Be sure to check out her blog, Life of a Turnip, to see her recipe post.
The recipe I couldn’t wait to try was for Virginia’s Apple Roquefort Turnovers. It must have been the crisp cool October air that really drew me towards it. This is my most absolute favorite time of the year and I couldn’t pass up the combination of tart apples and a sharp creamy Roquefort cheese. The “make it brilliant” part of this recipe was the addition of a spiked apple butter. Let me tell you, the apple butter is what completes this recipe. The addition was simple and it really rounded out the flavors of these savory turnovers with a hint of sweetness and seasonality. Here is the recipe for Virginia’s Apple Roquefort Turnovers with Spiked Apple Butter. Be sure to pick up her new book “Basic To Brilliant, Y’all” for other great recipes simple enough for an everyday meal or spruced up for a classy dinner party with friends.
Recipe from "Basic To Brilliant, Y'all" by Virginia Willis
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner.
Place puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the pastry with a little flour, and roll out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Brush away any excess flour and trim the edges to form a 9×12 inch rectangle. Cut the pastry into 12 3-inch squares, and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet.
Combine the egg yolk and heavy cream in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Neatly brush a little of the egg wash along two adding edges of each square. Place a spoonful of the apple just below the center of each square, top with a teaspoon of cheese, sprinkle with thyme, and season with pepper. Fold down the unwashed edges to enclose the mixture and form a triangle. Using your fingers, gently but firmly press the pastry edges together to seal. Then, using the back of a pairing knife, create a scalloped edge. (I actually ended up making square pockets with this recipe by placing one square on top of another with a heaping spoonful of the filling.)
Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is chilled. Remove from the freezer and brush the tops liberally with the remaining egg wash. Bake until the pastries are puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Store warm or at room temperature.
To make the apple butter, heat 3/4 cup apple butter in a saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons Calvados, applejack, or brandy. Cook until bubbly and warm. Remove from the heat. Using a whisk, stir in 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. To serve, spoon the enhanced butter onto a plate. Top with 2 pastries set on an angle to one another and serve immediately. (I ended up drizzling the apple butter over the turnovers like a glaze. It would also work well served alongside the turnovers as a dipping sauce.)