Housewarming Cooking: No Puff of Smoke

Welcome back to the longest housewarming party ever! In case you missed my posts from last week on not one, but two meat dishes, as well as some crunchy, crispy snacks I made for our housewarming party, you can still catch up. And you can be the first to read below about the fun I had with one of my favorite special party ingredients: frozen puff pastry.

I don't use puff pastry all that often but I like to have fun with it when I do because it’s so easy to use – and so delicious. It only takes a few minutes to bring the sheets to room temperature once outside of their packaging, and once they're thawed, they can be unfolded, rolled out, employed, baked and eaten all in short order. I used three sheets of pastry and made two different but delicious bites for the party.

The first dish was easy as…tart? Since I wanted to make sure that I had enough interesting food for vegetarians as well as meat eaters, I decided to make a little onion, goat cheese and herb tart. I rolled out a single sheet of puff pastry and placed it in my pie dish that I had sprayed with a little Pam. I pressed it around the edges to give it a rustically messy crust. I thinly sliced an entire red onion and loaded all of the pieces into the shell, so it was heaping. I then crumbled three ounces of goat cheese in and around the onions and added salt, pepper and some broken leaves of thyme and sage. Lastly, I drizzled a little red wine vinegar over the onions. I placed the tart in a 350 degree oven for about twenty minutes at which point it was perfectly golden and puffy. I sliced it in to bites before serving. The onions were crispy and tangy and the cheese added some further cool, creamy tang. The pastry brought it all together via the puffy crust that everyone loves. A very nice little vegetarian crowd-pleaser.

Now you want to talk about historically good crowd pleasers? Pigs in a blanket. That's what I used my other two sheets of puff pastry and two packages of all-beef kosher hot dogs (the thin ones) to make. Those crispy, salty, puffy, smoky comfort classics were definitely a hit. I laid seven hot dogs on each of two sheets of puff pastry that I had rolled out. Then I made little cuts in the pastry so that each dog had its own little parcel of pastry that I then wrapped each one in. I placed all fourteen on a sprayed baking sheet and baked in the oven for about twenty minutes until they too were golden and puffed up. I cut each pig in half and served them out with some pressed-dry sauerkraut and some spicy mustard. These condiments add a special zip to the pigs that make them amazing. As you can imagine, these were very popular and got snarfed off the table quicker than I can say “woof woof” or “oink oink” – or should I say they were gone in what seemed like a puff of smoke.

Both puff pastry dishes were simple, tasty and popular. You can't ask for much more in the realm of party food, which is why I don't. I just use more and more often.

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