Dreams of Becoming a Baton Girl

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I wanted to become a baton girl. Not the leotard wearing spangled hair ribbon type from the marching band, but the uber-chic bearer of the ultimate appetizer amongst my foodie friends. It all started when I bought The Cute Gardener a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table” for Christmas two years ago. My grand plan was to cook a French meal for him every so often from the book and become adept at the laissez-fare dish that begs copious amounts of wine on a lazy afternoon with bread. Upon first glance at the book, a recipe called Mustard Batons instantly struck me.

Mustard Batons are the French version of Italian breadsticks only fluffier and hinting at a savory bite from an internal swath of Dijon. Stuffed into a tall clear glass on a table with or without a meal, they are the perfect wands of carbs to go with various types of wine. I had immediate visions of serving them at dinner parties or when I would invite one of my many girlfriends over for a morning chat with tea or an afternoon gabfest with good wine.

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 Making them couldn’t be simpler. The full recipe is here but the concept is remarkably easy. Take puff pastry. Roll it out thin.

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Spread a thin layer of good Dijon mustard, grainy or smooth, across the lower half.

IMG_4707Fold the top half over the bottom and cut into one-inch strips. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle on some poppy seeds then bake for less than twenty minutes.

IMG_2030What comes out is the perfect bite for many occasions, looking remarkably complex for such little effort. It becomes a beautiful objet d’art, golden and dense, with flaky layers and a soft inside fancied up by the sting of mustard in the middle.

I also discovered that they are extremely versatile. I have served them in their original form to my family with a meal of chicken mushroom Marsala with leftovers in the fridge that got eaten up cold overnight by the snacking Cute Gardener. I have included them in a French dinner party with my supper club before a luscious beef Bourgogne with St. Germain and Champagne cocktails.

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I brought them to a farewell party for a girlfriend wit a bunch of Parisian gypsy themed entrees like French onion soup and we floated them on top of the broth with broiled gruyere on the top.

Recently, I decided to shake things up and experimented with some different ingredients for a lovely tea visit at my home with an artist friend.

IMG_4695I made a few with rose jelly and butter in the middle and sprinkled with French thyme on top that came out savory and strikingly good.

IMG_4697The second batch was strung on the inside with strands of sea salt caramel and drizzled honey with a topping of crushed coriander that became a sweet bite that would be great for dessert. Now I am obsessed with thinking of the endless possibilities ahead. Olive tapenade, pesto, cheese, caramelized onions, and crushed nuts … the ideas go on and on.

Now it is customary when I receive social invitations to hear, “Can you please bring those baton things to our party?”

I guess my dream of becoming a baton girl has manifested beautifully.

IMG_4711P.S. I hate to waste food and so every time I whip up an egg to brush the top of the dough while making batons, I end up with leftover egg. In typical French fashion, I throw it in a small tin into the oven, still hot from the baking, and let it set for a few minutes creating a beautiful little omelet. That becomes my after cooking treat topped with a sweet little pile of whatever I have handy in the fridge, in this case a dollop of roasted red pepper sauce.

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