5 Modern Kitchen Conveniences That I Love:
1. The Cuisinart, because now I can turn everything into soup!
2. Apple Coring and Peeling Machine: it makes quick work of pies, and it's pretty fun to turn the machine's crank while whistling "I've Been Working on the Railroad."
3. Silipat Sheets: to make Parmesan crisps, caramel shards, and other tasty garnishes.
4. Prepackaged Phyllo Dough (sorry Yia Yia)
5. Prepackaged Puff Pastry
Let's focus on that last one for a second. What did people do in the days before store-bought puff pastry? I'm guessing whipping up a nice apple strudel wasn't on the list that often. What did people serve at cocktail parties before Pepperidge Farm and Dufour made pinwheels and brie en croute so disastrously simple to make? Ok, sure, you can always make puff pastry from scratch, but now any yahoo with 20 minutes and a toaster oven can make buttery, flaky napoleons or upscale pigs in a blanket. It's the best thing to happen to amateur cooks since that cookie recipe was printed on the back of bags of Toll House chocolate chips.
So while I personally enjoy doing most baking tasks from scratch, this is one trick that I turn to more often than not. When I can, I try to purchase Dufour or another all-butter puff pastry, then keep a few boxes in my freezer. It makes treats like these Cinnamon Raisin Twists incredibly easy to make, which is a blessing if, like me, you have moved from a cold coast to a warm one and suddenly there is a line of visitors at your door.
These twists couldn't be more simple. Roll up puff pastry with cinnamon, sugar, and raisins, then twist into fat, dunkable spirals. They taste like everything I want at breakfast: sugar, butter, warming cinnamon and a hint of fruit. Because these twists rely on the flaky, buttery taste of the puff pastry, I think it's extra important to seek out the best brand you can.
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About the author: Carrie Vasios is the Community Manager of Serious Eats and writes the Wake and Bake, Cookie Monster, and Serious Entertaining columns. She likes perusing her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar.