Go with the flow.

“Is this what it was like when we were babies? You got zero sleep and spent all your time chasing us and worrying that we were going to eat something deadly? And potty training?”

(Well, kind of, yes.)

My son was invited to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and the puppy was not invited to go with him. So he’s there, and the puppy’s here, and not a single minute of this day went the way I’d imagined it, when I was imagining a Saturday without a 10-week-old puppy (who is completely adorable and presently sleeping in her crate).

What I was planning to do today was get back into the rhythm of Saturday morning writing, including writing about ordinary cooking. And I had a recipe in mind to share, with a short video lesson to prove that the recipe is as easy as I say it is. I was going to have all of this done by 10:30. And I will, as long as I’m not being fussy about the whole AM/PM thing.

Look-e there; I did what I intended to do, just not exactly the way I intended it. Because some days you just have to go with the flow. Especially when there’s a puppy involved.

Backstory on this recipe? I’ve actually written about it, more than once. It’s a David Tanis recipe for tart dough, and I make it pretty much the way he describes, only I typically make a half batch. I usually use this particular dough for savory dishes – to top a skillet pot pie or to make a tomato pie.

Christmas morning, I used it in a different way, to make a cream cheese breakfast pastry, at my son’s request.

When I asked what the children wanted to eat Christmas morning, when it was just family, before the pajama brunch guests arrived, my son said: Can we have that thing you used to make, with the cream cheese?

A long, long time ago, when a co-worker’s son was in 10th grade and selling frozen pastry items to raise money for the school band, I bought two pastries and served them Christmas morning. I bought them again when he was in 11th and 12th grades, and then he went to college and I had to come up with something else.

My son loved that pastry. I tried a couple of times to replicate it but couldn’t figure it out. I bought kringles instead, and that was fine, just fine. But what he wanted was the real thing.

So this Christmas, when he asked specifically for that item, I decided to try again. And I figured it out. And when my sister asked what it was, and I told her I’d made it, she thought I was being facetious. But I wasn’t, because I did make it, and it wasn’t hard, and I’m going to show you, just to prove it. And yes, I’m wearing pajamas. No, I haven’t tidied up the kitchen since the last round of these silly kitchen dispatches. Ordinary me; ordinary kitchen; ordinary cooking.

Yes, you can. You can.

Quick Puff Pastry (ish) with Cream Cheese Filling


For the pastry

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, cut into quarter inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • pinch of salt

For the filling

  • Cream cheese (about a block, or equivalent, softened)
  • Vanilla extract (1 tsp. ish)
  • Sugar to taste

For the icing (optional)

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • Dash of almond extract
  • Milk or cream (just enough to turn the sugar into icing – start with 1 tsp. and add more gradually, a few drops at a time)

Prepare the dough: Use a stand mixer (a food processor would probably work) to mix the butter and flour until the butter is distributed and the mix looks crumbly. Add the water while the mixer is running (medium speed) and mix until the dough just starts to come together (about 30 seconds). Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gather into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or more).

Roll the dough: Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 6×12 inches (edges will be rough); fold it in thirds, like a letter and re-roll. Repeat 1-2 more times. If you have time, refrigerate the dough for another 30 minutes or more, and repeat the rolling/folding process one more time before assembling the final product.

Heat oven to 370/375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or use a silicone baking mat.

Prepare the filling: Beat sugar and vanilla into softened cream cheese. No, I don’t know how much sugar. Start with 1 Tablespoon and add more to taste. I probaly used 3 Tablespoons, but I wouldn’t swear to that. Add some vanilla, because vanilla makes every sweet pastry filing better.

Roll the dough into a rectangle that is about 6×12 (or longer). Spoon the cream cheese down the center and fold the dough around the filling, pinching the edges together to seal. Moisten fingers to make this easier. Pinch the ends closed the same way.

Place the pastry seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Score the top with a knife, making 4-6 diagonal slits (to give the pastry room to breathe).

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is nicely browned but not burnt.

Let cool; drizzle with icing, if you like (honestly, it doesn’t need it).