Make these easy appetizers ahead and bake them just in time to get the party started.
I made my own puff pastry once.
Just the once. That was plenty.
It was the middle of the summer, in a steamy restaurant kitchen while I was studying at the International Culinary Center (then the French Culinary Institute, for the sake of historical accuracy). Pastry does not like a hot kitchen. There was lots of flour and butter and folding and waiting and folding again and waiting again. It took two days. It gave me a real appreciation for the work that goes into making puff pastry. And a real willingness to buy it premade forevermore.
Man, we’re so lucky in so many ways, right? Not the least of which is having CHOICES of which brand of frozen puff pastry to buy. (See the recipe for my own preference.) All we have to do is defrost it and sautée some leeks, and it’s an instant party.
Okay, maybe I skipped a FEW steps, but you know what I mean.
These little creamy leek and feta bites are that easy. And they’re so good. This (and really anything made with puff pastry) is one of those smart hors d’oeuvres that looks diminutive but is actually quite hearty and adept at soaking up whatever you and your guests are drinking. Maybe you’re drinking this or this or this, if you were wondering what you were drinking in that scenario. 🙂
These easy appetizers would be great for a cocktail party, of course, but they’re also the kind of thing that will keep your Christmas guests happy while chatting and opening presents, giving you a little more flexibility with the timing of dinner. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll start serving them every weeknight too for the same reason. Just a thought.
Talk to you soon.
Easy Appetizer Recipe: Creamy Leeks in Puff Pastry Cups
A quick and delicious hors d'oeuvre that you can make ahead and bake as guests get hungry. You'll need a 24-cup mini muffin pan.
- 1 package frozen puff pastry*
- 3 medium leeks
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Pinch grated nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 ounces feta cheese
- 1 egg
Defrost the puff pastry in the fridge overnight or on the counter for a couple of hours.
Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the center. Unfold the puff pastry and roll it out gently with a rolling pin until it grows by 2-3 inches horizontally and vertically. Cut it into quarters, and then cut each quarter into six equal rectangles. Tuck each rectangle in to a mini muffin cup and set aside.
Trim the root end and the dark green leaves from the leeks and discard. Slice the remaining white and light green parts in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into thin half-moons. Place in a colander and rinse thoroughly, then shake off any excess water.
Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add leeks, a generous pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper and cook, stirring from time to time to prevent browning, until tender and reduced in volume by half, 5-10 minutes. Stir in cream, nutmeg and thyme and continue to cook until cream is thick enough to coat leeks without leaving liquid in the pan, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat, crumble feta overtop and stir to incorporate.
Beat egg in a small bowl with one teaspoon water.
Spoon a small amount of leek filling into each prepared muffin cup. Brush with a little bit of egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes, until pastry is nicely browned. Serve warm.
* I always use Dufour puff pastry, which is so damn good. (Bonus: the company is proudly run by women.) A box of Dufour contains a 14-ounce sheet of puff pastry, but if yours is within a few ounces, don't worry about the difference.