In terms of food preparation, I have these learning points to share with you:
1. Never completely ignore the recipes recommended by manufacturers on their product packaging. The recipes serve as a good guide for first-timers, and allows one to improvise on subsequently.
2. Keep a pack of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets in the freezer. Along with Pilsbury's pie crusts, these have become my pantry staples. There are usually two of each at any time. You can make sweet or savoury tarts and pies whenever you feel like, just as long as you have fruits or ham and cheese in the fridge.
3. Plan ahead so that you can save time effortlessly. For example, if you want to use the puff pastry tomorrow, you should move them from the freezer to the fridge tonight. Then, tomorrow, if you want to use the puff pastry for lunch, take it out from the fridge after breakfast.
Here's my version of ham and cheese wheels, inspired by the recipe given by Pepperidge on their puff pastry packaging.
Makes 40 wheels
1 pack of Pepperidge puff pastry sheets
1 cup finely diced ham
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon water
Salt and pepper
Mix of dried herbs (optional)
1. Thaw the pastry sheets at room temperature. This takes about 30-45 minutes.
2. Mix the ham and cheese in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with water.
3. Prepare two pieces of parchment paper, each measuring at least 12" by 8".
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry sheets to about 10" by 13", with the shorter side facing you.
5. Brush the pastry sheets with egg mixture. If you don't have a brush, you can use your fingers.
6. Sprinkle the ham and cheese mixture all over the pastry sheets, followed by garlic powder.
7. Roll up both sheets, starting with the side facing you (the shorter side, remember?), not too tightly because you want to allow some space for the pastry to "puff" when in the oven. Check: You should have two rolls each measuring 10" with you. Gently roll each of them up with the parchment paper.
8. Chill both rolls in the fridge for 15 minutes. Now go make yourself look pretty.
9. Preheat oven to 400F.
10. Remove the rolls from parchment paper. Cut each roll into 1/2" wheels. You'll have a total of 40 rolls. Don't worry if the wheels are squashed by the knife. You can shape them back into wheels again later.
11. Arrange the wheels flat on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave about an inch between the wheels.
12. Brush with egg the top surface of the wheels with egg mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and a mix of dried herbs if you wish.
13. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. The wheels would have puffed up to at least 2" in diameter.