June 26, 2006

Une Bonne Soirée Chez Nous...

We just threw a party celebrating the end of the school year here in Paris (yes, it's the end of June!) and I have a few delicious appetizer recipes to share with you. We called it our faux-champagne party, since we served an easy-drinking Cremant d'Alsace, which was wonderful and also decidedly cheaper than fine champagne.
I ended up making way too much food, which I guess is always preferable to not having enough! I was really happy with how everything turned out and I'm so glad I have some recipes to share with you! I tried to keep it to hors d'oeuvres so there would be no need for plates or forks. Plus, since it was very hot last weekend, I didn't want to have the oven running constantly, or myself, for that matter.
So, the recipes I made included this previously posted Tzatziki. It's always a hit and was perfectly refreshing on a hot night. We also purchased that big gloriously sticky piece of brie pictured above. I think that's what won over the frenchies. I also made these Chocolate Brownie Cookies again. They were loved. Let's just say I now have a backup husband waiting in the wings should anything, er, happen to Paul. ("Megane, can I be zyour wife in zee heaven?" "You mean my husband? in the next life? Sure.") There were many yummy things and I will eventually get to all of them, but I was very pleased with these Tomato Pesto Mini-Tartes and my Mushroom and Chevre Spirals. Both use store-bought puff pastry, both are delicious at room temperature and couldn't be easier make. Most of the ingredients can be swapped out for others, so if you don't like chevre (you poor soul!) feel free to use parmesan or whatever you like.
Tomato and Pesto Mini-Tartes
(inspiration and recipe from The Passionate Cook!)

1 sheet puff pastry (sizes differ in US and France)

about 30 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced

2 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup pine nuts

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Mince garlic in a food processor. Next add the pine nuts and basil and pulse to chop. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the oil until incorporated. You may need to scrape down the bowl and make sure everything is pureed. Stir in the cheese and taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate up to 2-3 days.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Using a cookier cutter or mold of some sort, cut out 2 inch circles of puff pastry. I had neither a mold or cookie cutter, so I just cut my pastry into rough squares about 2 inches wide. Place the pastries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (a baker's best friend.) Prick each piece several times with a fork so that they don't puff up too much. Top with some pesto and about 3 slices of cherry tomato and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with a bit more pesto if you like. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Makes about 30, but it depends on the size of your pastry. As you can see, this is an easy recipe to alter the amounts and/or ingredients.

Mushroom and Chevre Spirals
(no picture because they were devoured before I had the chance)

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed if frozen

1 pound white mushrooms (or any kind you like), finely chopped

1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp minced chives

1 Tbsp fresh thyme (or any herb would work)

3 Tbsp crumbled goat cheese

salt and pepper

1 Tbsp
crème fraîche or sour cream, optional

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the shallots over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add the chives, thyme or other herbs. Add the goat cheese, salt and pepper to taste and stir in the crème fraîche to bind the mixture. Remove from heat and let cool.

Roll out the pastry. Cover the surface with the mushroom mixture, adding more goat cheese or herbs if you like. Roll up the pastry somewhat tightly so it holds together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill. This can be made a few days in advance. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the pastry roll into 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until nicely browned. These won't expand much so don't worry about crowding the pan. Best when warm, but they are also fine at room temperature.



emily said...

so, um, next time will you invite me? :) miss you, dahlink. and your little crepes too.

Ivonne said...

Those mini tarts are fantastic! Can I be invited to your next party???

Tanna said...

No duh!!! Tomato and Pesto Mini-Tartes look totally fantastic. Awesome. And they seem like they'd be resonable to do.
Great post!!! Gad and you get to be in Paris too.