With Thanksgiving behind us, now is the time to prepare for Christmas (and finals, but I prefer to look ahead to Christmas at the moment). Thanksgiving break was marvelous. I spent several days lounging around my grandmother’s house watching movies with my family, enjoying scrumptious food, and knitting, a lot. Per tradition, my family watches our holiday favorite, A Christmas Story, every Thanksgiving to get into the spirit of the season. We also visited Givens Books, one of greatest places to go when visiting our family in Virginia, where I bought Texts from Jane Eyre, a collection of literary works as text messages which is absolutely hysterical. It was quite a relaxing break and just what I needed before returning to school to brave my final exams and papers.
Southern weather still has me fooled into believing that it can’t be any later than October. If it weren’t for the start of Advent at church and the holly bushes surrounding my dorm, I would probably forget that Christmas is on my metaphorical doorstep altogether! As soon as I returned to my dorm, I decided to deck my desk with some fitting December boughs and a fitting “Keep Calm” message. After a fine break and some festive preparations, I am ready to turn on Spotify’s “Folksy Christmas” playlist and plunge into my last scraps of studying and writing for the semester.
Of course, part of Thanksgiving is still with us, in the form of leftovers. My grandmother sent me back to school with about a quarter of a spiral sliced ham. This would have been a problematic a few weeks ago, because I didn’t eat ham. I recently began branching out to eating red meat and pork after a year and a half of eating just poultry and fish. I generally prefer poultry and fish because they are healthier, but I have come to the realization that refusing to eat red meat in the UK would be to miss the majority of their culinary tradition. So, I am back to being a total omnivore.
But what does one do with a quarter of a spiral sliced ham? Well, about half of it can fill some delicious ham and cheese pastry pockets! The other half will have to wait in the freezer to enrich a future frittata.
Whole Wheat Ham and Cheese Pockets
(crust adapted from Cooking Channel)
Yields 6 servings
- 1/2 c water + 1 tbsp for egg wash
- 6 tbsp butter, cubed
- 1 & 3/4 c whole wheat flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- black pepper and ground cloves to taste
- 1 egg lightly beaten for crust + 1 for egg wash
- 1 & 1/2 c diced ham
- 1 c shredded cheese of choice (I used cheddar and an Italian blend)
- Dijon Mustard (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Combine flour, salt, pepper, and cloves in large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of mixture and place cubed butter in it.
- Bring water to a boil in the microwave or on the stove top. Pour hot water into the well, over butter. Stir flour into the liquid with a fork until butter melts and all flour is incorporated. Add egg and mix until combined. If dough is too sticky, add a bit of flour. If it is too dry, add a bit of water.
- Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes or freeze 10 minutes until firm (refrigeration is preferred, but I am impatient, so this is a do as I say not as I do situation).
- Remove dough from fridge. Divide into 6 even sized pieces. Roll out each piece to about 1/4 thickness keeping it circular as you go (you can also press the dough into a circle with the heal of your hand if you don’t have a rolling pin on hand).
- Place a 1/6 of ham and a 1/6 of cheese and Dijon mustard on each crust. Fold each in half and press edges to seal. I pinched the edges of mine to make them look sort of pretty, which you can do too! Poke a few holes in the top of each pocket with a fork.
- Beat the second egg with a tbsp of water for egg wash. Brush pockets with egg wash using a pastry brush or paper towel. Place pockets on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Enjoy hot or cold or freeze for later!