Friends – once again it has been a crazy week. In a very good way. We spent last weekend on Lopez Island (more on that with cute boy photos on the way), came home to a birthday party for my brother on Sunday, spent a relaxing Memorial Day doing not much of anything, and then Tuesday I flew to Scottsdale to talk about ovens and cooktops. Thermador, a brand I am now officially simultaneously in love with and coveting, has come out with an incredible new option for your stove/oven and I was lucky enough to get a first peek. I have lots more to say and will do so in my next post.
I returned from Scottsdale on Thursday afternoon and, gulp, catered a party that night. Recently I have been getting a lot of questions along the lines of “how do you get it all done?” I think that is a good subject for – you guessed it – an upcoming post. Within two paragraphs, I have promised you three new posts all having nothing to do with the food you probably come here for. So, for now, let’s talk food, shall we?
For Thursday night’s party, I had to do most of the work in advance since I had a very short window between the time I landed and the time the party started. As I was sitting on the plane going through the food I had planned, I realized that there would be a lot of brown and red. I made those amazing peppers, Muhummara dip, gougères (which I forgot to bring – damn!), nuts, and a couple of other things. I needed something green. I’ve had this pea and ricotta tart in my head ever since seeing it on Stacey’s site a few weeks ago and I figured I could work out something with a similar feel.
Alas, no ricotta in my refrigerator and no time to go to the store meant that I had to work with what I had. I won’t bore you with what my original vision was vs. how it turned out. I feel confident that my made-up appetizer turned out much better than the imaginary one I started off with. In the end, I pulsed peas, a bit of cream cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the food processor, stirred in some chopped tarragon and finely crumbled feta cheese, and spooned it into little pastry cups that, miraculously, were waiting for me in my pantry. They were only about 1 inch across and were perfect for party food. I got more questions about those little morsels than anything else I brought. Sadly, the only other thing I forgot besides the gougères, was my camera.
So, I made them again. This time I used a square biscuit cutter on puff pastry for a more fork and knife-type appetizer. You could certainly make them even larger and serve them as more of a main course. In this second go-around, I was out of feta and used a bit of Gorgonzola instead. I really liked both cheeses and I know a very finely chopped Pecorino would taste terrific too. I also swiped the bottom of each pastry square with the dreamiest French tarragon mustard. That little spicy bite made all the difference.
One Year Ago: Pull-Apart Cheesy Onion Bread, Holly B’s Rhubarb Bette, Radishes with Butter and Chive-Sage Salt
Two Years Ago: Greek Pasta Casserole, Green Bean and Fennel Salad, Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps
Three Years Ago: Gazpacho (still the recipe I use)
Puff Pastry Squares with Pea and Tarragon Purée
Dana Treat Original
Makes 12 appetizer portions
You could, of course, just put this purée on crostini instead of the puff pastry to make it simpler. Or serve it with pita chips as a dip. If you choose the latter, I would thin it with more olive oil when you are making it in the food processor.
12 ounces puff pastry
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water (for egg wash)
Tarragon mustard or other Dijon mustard (optional)
6 ounces frozen peas
2 tbsp. cream cheese
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 stalks tarragon, leaves stripped and chopped
2 ounces feta or blue cheese, crumbled into small bits
Chive blossoms, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Dust a work surface with flour and lay unfold the puff pastry onto the surface. Using a floured rolling pin, gently roll the puff pastry just enough to flatten the seams. Using a biscuit cutter, a cookie cutter, or a paring knife, cut out 12 squares and transfer each to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. (You want about 3-inch squares.) Brush each square with the egg wash. Using a paring knife, score a border, about ½-inch wide without cutting all the way through the pastry. Using a fork, dock holes in the bottom of each pastry, inside the border. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Place the baking sheet in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the pastry squares are nice and golden brown. You might need to poke your fork back into the bottoms of the pastry to deflate them a bit as they bake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add the peas and cook for 1 minute. Drain and immediately rinse with very cold water. Place the peas in a food processor fixed with the steel blade. Add the cream cheese, olive oil, and pinch each of salt and pepper. Keep in mind that the cheese you add will be pretty salty so use a light hand with the salt. Pulse the mixture until it is combined but still chunky.
Place the mixture in a bowl and gently stir in the cheese and tarragon. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Swipe just a bit of mustard across the bottom of each square. Scoop the purée onto each and garnish with chive blossoms if you like.