I am always looking for short-cuts and do-ahead ideas for entertaining, and for making foods that taste delicious and look “fancy” even though they’re easy to prepare. The prepared puff pastry made by manufacturers like Pepperidge Farm really fits the bill here. You can make up some fantastic appetizers and desserts using the manufactured puff pastry, and it tastes just about the same as if you spent hours making the puff pastry yourself.
Just recently I made up some Roasted Pepper Ricotta Appetizer Puffs. I used a recipe that I found in Camilla Salisbury's book, Puff Pastry Perfection, which I “tweaked” slightly. I am having a large formal dinner party in a few weeks, and I have been making up some appetizers ahead of time that I can freeze, and then just pull out of the freezer right before baking and serving time. I thought the puff pastry appetizer puffs would be a hit. I made a double batch, and I’ve already baked up a few for my sons. They like them a lot. You might too.
ROASTED PEPPER RICOTTA PUFFS
1 17.3 oz. pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
¾ cup chopped roasted sweet red pepper (from a jar)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
2 T. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
Thaw the puff pastry for 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. Using a sharp knife, cut each sheet into nine 3-inch squares. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, red pepper, ¼ cup of Romano cheese, parsley, oregano and black pepper. Set aside.
Brush the edges of the four sides of each puff pastry square with the beaten egg. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of filling into the center of each square. Fold each square of pastry in half diagonally into a triangle, bringing one corner to the opposite corner. Using your fingertips, press the edges together, trying to keep all the filling sealed inside. Then seal the edges together using the tines of a fork. Using a sharp knife, cut a couple slits on the top of each pastry to allow the steam to escape. Brush the top of each pastry with some of the beaten egg. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of Romano cheese on the tops of the pastries.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange pastries on top, allowing a couple of inches of space between pastries. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Do-head tip: These puffs can be frozen (unbaked, with the egg and grated Romano sprinkled on top) for 1 month before serving. Thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking, or overnight in the refrigerator.