It is upon us... the season of entertaining -- a time to be with family and friends, enjoying sweet and savory treats, many of which are only eaten at this time of the year. I always have grandiose plans for what I will be baking during this month, but life gets busy and I always end up wondering, when am I going to get everything done that's on my list? The answer is to simplify what I do in my kitchen. Not all cookies will be rolled and cut-out. I have become a huge fan of log cookies that can be rich in flavors, but a breeze to slice and bake. I've also given myself permission to purchase some of the items I need, instead of pressuring myself to make absolutely everything that I use in my cooking and baking (which is how I operated for many years). I no longer feel as though I'm cheating; a big stress reducer.
Puff Pastry is one of those items I allow myself to purchase. I just used, for the first time, the Dufour brand which is made with butter. Stock up on it, especially if you can find it on sale, and have it at the ready in your freezer.
November 30th was my husband's final "official" day of work before his retirement. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to have friends over for a champagne toast. The celebration also included Proscuitto and Cheese Spirals to nibble, along with the champagne. They assemble quickly as long as you plan ahead and have the puff pastry defrosted. You can make a lot of these, easily and quickly, for any holiday entertaining you have planned.
• Prosciutto & Cheese Spirals •
adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit
• One sheet of Puff Pastry (preferably Dufour brand), defrosted
• 4 ounce package Proscuitto
• 1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1 large egg whisked briefly with 1 teaspoon water, for glaze
• freshly ground black pepper
PREHEAT OVEN TO 375˚F.
1. Unfold the pastry and roll it out on a lightly-floured surface to a 12-inch square.
2. Arrange enough prosciutto slices in single layer on half of the pastry to just cover. Sprinkle Gruyère, Parmesan, and thyme evenly over the Prosciutto.
3. Brush some of the egg glaze on the other half of the pastry.
4. Fold the egg-brushed half over onto the cheese and prosciutto half. Press firmly, then roll out the filled pastry to an 11-inch-by-8-inch rectangle. Brush the pastry with some egg glaze; sprinkle with pepper.
5. Using a heavy large knife, or a pizza wheel, cut pastry crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
6. Twist the strips about 3 times and arrange them on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, pressing the ends onto the sheets to keep strips twisted while baking, and spacing them about 1 1/2-inches apart. Brush twists lightly with egg glaze.
7. Position baking racks in upper third and lower third of the oven, place a baking sheet on each rack. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, switching-out the baking sheets after 10 minutes, until the spirals are browned and crisp.
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