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.
Making them couldn’t be simpler. The full recipe is here but the concept is remarkably easy. Take puff pastry. Roll it out thin.
Spread a thin layer of good Dijon mustard, grainy or smooth, across the lower half.
What 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.
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.
The 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.
P.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.