Have you ever made such a spectacular fool out of yourself that the more you try to explain, the worse it gets?
Whenever this occurs (fairly frequently, I might add), it reminds me of the time I got my wisdom teeth pulled. I was in my studio apartment in godforsaken Malden waiting for the Novocain to wear off when the UPS guy arrived. He was cute and I was on pain meds, so I set about answering his delivery-related questions with much enthusiasm, forgetting, of course, that my mouth wasn’t working. And, well, there’s no other way to put it…I sounded like I was retarded. A retarded adult living alone with her two cats in a one-room, rent-controlled apartment in the middle of nowhere. The more I thought about it, the more plausible it seemed. And the more I gestured wildly about dental procedures and fumbled around for a pen and paper to clarify, the more he backed himself down the hallway, and the more I tried to sponge off the drool and reassure him that no, no, I’m actually not retarded, while sounding completely, 100% retarded.
Someday, they’ll find an antidote for bruised pride—something better than time, which takes too long. Until then, take my advice and remember the UPS man. Shut your trap, and don’t open it again until you're alone with a plate of turnovers sitting in front of you. Cranberry cardamom or fig with blue cheese and walnut, for example. You’ll thank me later.
Cranberry Cardamom Turnovers
I love these as is, but one of you should put a little orange rind in there and see what happens. For the fig version, simply slice fresh figs into thickish ovals (no pre-cooking required), overlap three or four to a turnover, dot with blue cheese (I wished I had used more), and sprinkle with chopped walnuts before sealing them up.
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
10-12 Tbsp. ice water
1 cup cranberries
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
½ tsp. cardamom
1 egg, beaten
For the crust, mix flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Add cold butter and pulse in 1-second beats until butter is the size of small peas (around 20 pulses). Dump mixture into a large bowl and add ice water, a few tablespoons at a time, fluffing with a fork until gently absorbed. You don’t want it wet and sticky, but if there’s too much dry flour, the dough won’t come together right. It should just hold together when you press on it. Don’t knead or it will become too tough. Tear off two pieces of plastic wrap. Dump half of the dough mixture in the middle of each, and flatten the mixture into disks (or rectangles or rhombi) about a half-inch thick, using the plastic wrap to help shape and compress them. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until ready to use (or at least a half hour to let the gluten relax).
Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring cranberries, sugar, water, and cardamom to a boil and simmer on low, 15-20 minutes, until berries burst and thicken. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line sheet pans with parchment paper. Flour your counter and rolling pin well (the dough shouldn’t stick at all). Take one of the disks (keep the other refrigerated) and roll it out about ¼-inch thick. Roll from the middle out in all directions. Don’t grind the dough down into the counter—push it out to the sides. If the dough sticks, sprinkle more flour. A bench scraper comes in really handy for loosening stuck dough.
Cut dough into rectangles about 3 inches wide by 9 inches long, or whatever looks like a reasonable turnover size once you fold it in half. Place filling on one side of dough, leaving space all around the perimeter to seal it up. Fold dough over and press edges to seal. If the dough doesn’t stick to itself, run a wet finger in between. Crimp edges with a fork. Cut steam vents in top crust with a knife. Brush with beaten egg and set gently on parchment-lined pan. Repeat with remaining dough (any leftover scraps can be gathered up and re-rolled). Bake 15-20 minutes, until crust turns golden brown. Let cool. Makes about 12.