Those of you who've been around a while remember our open house in November. A pre-Thanksgiving Saturday afternoon we turn off the heat, fire up the grill, the oven, and virtually every other heat-producing appliance in the kitchen and prepare a finger-food feast for nearly 100 of our closest friends.
In our sixth year, we've worked most of the kinks out of the menu and found ourselves a rhythm that works for us. This year we worked with our contacts in the restaurant business to procure some of the staples. Cheeses. Mini phyllo shells. Puff pastry. In restaurant sized packages. Which brings us to my second edition of the Thursday thirteen:
- Breakfast just doesn't get any better than this. Based on how yummy this was with commercial pastry, I can't wait to try it using her recipe for pamesan pastry.
- Sweet tooth? Check out Food Network's Puff Pastry, Apple & Raisin Strudel. Assemble it Saturday night and toss it in the freezer overnight for a no-fuss addition to your Sunday brunch menu.
- Tonight's cover recipe comes to us from The Wednesday Chef. I love leeks. I love goat cheese and mushrooms. Fennel's a bit of a stretch, but I've learned to trust Luisa. If she says I'll like something, I usually do. A wedge of Leek, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart with a cup of mushroom soup was exactly the antidote for a long cold winter day.
- Puff pastry plus a few extra ingredients and you have yourself a sensational weekend lunch. I'm particularly fond of my friend Haalo's Potato & Onion Tart -- and I don't LIKE anchovies. (Rocket? That's arugula in this part of the world).
- Having friends over on Friday night? Brie kisses and a bottle of wine are a great way to start the weekend off right. A mini muffin tin, a sheet or two of puff pastry, a small wheel of brie and a jar of your favorite jam/jelly/preserves is all you need. Prepare your muffin tin with the nonstick spray of your choice. Cut the pastry into 2-inch squares, putting a square into each muffin form. Top with a 1/2 teaspoon of brie and a 1/4 teaspoon of the preserves. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool briefly before you enjoy -- the contents get molten.
- Don't want to work that hard? Forget the slicing and stuffing -- top your brie with several tablespoons of the preserves. Wrap it in puff pastry, brush with beaten egg wash and bake at 400 for 25 minutes. Allow to cool 20 minutes before serving.
- Last week's Salmon Fillet in Puff Pastry with Citrus Beurre Blanc was absolutely sensational, and not nearly as much effort as I'd initially expected.
- For a hearty appetizer, try my Sassy Savory Tarts, inspired by Australia's answer to Martha Stewart - Donna Hay. I like to serve these over balsamic-dressed spring greens.
- Or Bron's Caramalized Onion, Goat Cheese & Fig Tarts -- pornography on a plate.
- Chocolate/Puff Pastry/Cream Cheese cookies feel like cheating, they're so simple. But they are consistently one of my most popular contributions to cookie exchange parties.
- Another yummy entree using mostly kitchen staples: Spinach-Stuffed Chicken in Puff Pastry. Again, unless I'm serving serious company, I tend to skip the decorative extras. It tastes just as good without "decorative stems and leaves."
- These Mini Savoury Tarts aren't nearly as fussy as they look. They taste amazing and they make a gorgeous plate. I'm particularly fond of the mushroom ones.
- This variation on soft breadsticks pleases even my finicky "he won't eat that, it's not chicken" nephew.
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