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Posts Tagged ‘easy appetizers’

It’s that time of the year again, the pre-holiday rush, but it’s different this time. Very different. Many of are trying to figure out what to do in the midst of pandemic with increasing infection levels in every corner, particularly the Midwest. (WTF North Dakota?!) We want to celebrate with family, with big tables of abundant food and rounds of laughter, however, we’re aware of the current situation and certainly don’t want to put anyone at risk. So we’re wisely scaling down. Celebrating virtually. Maintaining our distance. Having BYO cocktails in backyards around makeshift fire pits. We’re doing what works to keep others safe and that really is a good thing. Remember that. Hang in there.

But oh boy do we need a good food celebration. Potlucks are out, individually served things are in. And snacks. God damn do we need snacks. I’ve been snacking on the regular since April and have no intention of stopping. Snacks for dinner is a regular thing around here. You definitely need a tasty nibble to offset that glass (ahem, or three) of wine with your social Zoom calls, right? I was flipping through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, looking for ideas that used mustard and stumbled upon the most genius of snacks with only three simple ingredients. That woman is a wonder.

So here’s what you’re going to do for the easiest snack ever. Go to Trader Joe’s and buy a box of that great all butter puff pastry they only have at the holidays. Hell, buy four. Then dig around the fridge for a jar of Dijon mustard. If you have some cheese or a bit of prosciutto, fantastic, but it’s not necessary. Grab an egg while you’re in there. Preheat the oven to 400°F while you’re rooting around for these things.

Smear one side of the pastry with Dijon, fold it over, cut into strips and bake. A very simple yet delicious and surprisingly elegant cocktail snack in no time. If you want to fancy it up, sprinkle some finely shredded cheese (gruyere is perfection) over the full sheet. Or lay a few pieces of prosciutto over the lower half. I did all three on one pastry sheet, for a nice mix of each. A little egg wash, and a pinch of poppy or sesame seeds are nice. That’s it. The recipe can be doubled. Tripled. Halved. It can be assembled and frozen to bake off as you wish. Bake one; bake twenty. Do what you want. It is the ideal appetizer for these uncertain times and even when things go back to whatever normal might be. When you start having parties again, remember this one.

STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: WHO ISN’T STRESSED RIGHT NOW? Things suck. They just do. Chicago is going back on lockdown next week and I imagine, a lot of the country isn’t far behind. Which is why you might want to think about baking up a whole sheet of mustard puff pastry bâtons, pour yourself a glass of chilled crisp white wine and eat them all. Hey, just saying, it’s a thought. 

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four years agoChicken Wing Friday – Green Curry Chicken Wings,  Kale Salad with Crispy Salami & ChickpeasChocolate Malt Cookies

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MUSTARD BÂTONS – loosely adapted from this recipe

Makes about 20 bâtons

Be sure your Dijon really packs a punch as the spicier varieties tend to come through more after baking. If you like the pop and crunch of a mustard seed, the grainer varieties are nice too. 

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the fridge (about 12 ½” x 9 ½”)

¼ cup Dijon mustard, more or less

Good pinch of kosher salt

1 large egg + 1 teaspoon of water

Poppy or sesame seeds, for topping (optional)

A bit of flour for rolling

  1. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Have a ruler and a pizza cutter (or sharp knife) handy.
  2. Lightly flour the top of the pastry sheet, flip it and lightly flour the top.
  3. Roll out lightly to extend the size a bit, about an inch or so more on either side. You want to even out the dough and make it a bit thinner.  
  4. Turn the dough so that the longer side of the rectangle is closest to you. 
  5. Spread the mustard in an even, thin layer all over the pastry. An offset spatula works great but you can use a butter knife. 
  6. Sprinkle a good pinch of kosher salt all over the mustard.
  7. Optional: if you like, at this point sprinkle finely grated cheese in a thin loose layer over the pastry or lay prosciutto in a single layer on half of the pastry. 
  8. Fold the top portion of the dough over the bottom and lightly press to adhere. Trim the edges into nice, tight rectangle.
  9. Chill for 30 minutes to make the cutting easier and cleaner.
  10. Using the pizza cutter (or sharp knife for the prosciutto strips) cut the pastry from top to bottom into strips about ½” wide. 
  11. Carefully transfer the bâtons to one of the baking sheets and chill for another 15 minutes to get the pastry nice and cold before baking. (You can make all the strips to this point and freeze them on the baking sheets, then pack them airtight and keep them frozen for up to 2 months.)
  12. Lightly beat the egg with 1 teaspoon of cold water and brush the tops of the strips. If you like, sprinkle them with poppy and/or sesame seeds.
  13. Bake 8 minutes. 
  14. Rotate the sheets (top to bottom, front to back) and bake for another 7-8 minutes, or until the strips are puffed and golden brown. 
  15. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the bâtons rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
  16. Storing: Unbaked bâtons can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months and baked while still frozen. Brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle them with the seeds, just before baking.
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