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Cooking Through Fiction: Lost Lake's Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry

Thomas Wolfe wrote a novel titled You Can’t Go Home Again in which the main character realizes that although he can literally go home again, his home will not be as he remembers. The phrase “you can’t go home again” has come to represent the idea that once you leave home for bigger and brighter places, every attempt you have to relive youthful memories will fail. Is this true? I say, “Not really. Not for me.” And not for Kate and a slew of others in Addison Allen’s Lost Lake.

In fact, many characters in Lost Lake return to their summer retreat every year for the very reason that they can relive the memories and hang on to what has become so special to them. Kate returns to Lost Lake with her daughter in search of something she lost years ago, and they find more than they expect, including happiness, love, and home.

I love going home again and again. My bedroom is a different color, but it still feels the same. Sitting in the backyard grass is different because my thoughts have shifted from childhood wondering to adult dreams, but watching the ducks on the lake still feels like home. It still feels peaceful and like a place where I can rest.

Once Kate and her daughter arrive at Lost Lake, they are welcomed with comfort food with a French twist—not what they’d expect at a lake retreat but just what they need.

“It was still dark and empty, but now there was a single Blue Willow platter on the buffet table on the far side of the room. She could have sworn it hadn’t been there before. She walked over to it. On it were several small ham-and-cheese puff pastries and two large slices of plum cake.” (Addison Allen, Sarah. Lost Lake. St. Martin’s Press: New York, 50)

Lost Lake’s Ham-and-Cheese Puff Pastry

Serves: 12

Difficulty Level: Easy


1 pkg (2 sheets) of puff pastry (preferably Pepperidge Farm)

¼ lb (4 oz) black forest ham

½ lb (8 oz) smoked Gruyere, sliced

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water to create egg wash

How to Make

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

  3. Thaw puff pastry in the refrigerator.

  4. Roll each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll until pastry sheet is roughly 10x12.

  5. Place one sheet of puff pastry onto baking sheet.

  6. Smear mustard onto the pastry, leaving 1 inch all the way around the sheet.

  7. Layer ham on top of mustard, followed by the cheese.

  8. Brush egg wash along the edges of the pastry.

  9. Place second sheet on top and press edges together. If uneven, cut an even line all the way around the pastry.

  10. Cut slits in top to allow steam to vent.

  11. Brush entire pastry with egg wash. Bake for 30-32 minutes. Cover with tinfoil if edges become too dark and center is still light in color. Cook until entire puff pastry has risen and is golden in color. Serve hot.

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