The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

9:50 AM

Picture-Perfect Meals: Little Book of Appetizers

Posted by Magic of Spice

Picture-Perfect Meals: Little Book of Appetizers
Citrus Marinated Olives and 
Puff Pastry Cheese Straws

Over the holidays I received a copy of this about timing!
The book is created by Cheryl Beverage Barnes and photographed by her
husband Adam Barnes, both of the wonderful site Picture Perfect Meals
whose subtitle is "Changing the way you look at food".

picture-perfect meals: Little Book of Appetizers

The opening statement on the first page reads "Your go-to collection of
irresistible bites and welcoming nibbles featuring both classic and contemporary
favorites that are not only easy to prepare, but are made with ingredients free of 
high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, added MSG and hydrogenated oils." 

The book is filled with an assortment of delightful recipes and stunning photographs,
that will instantly create a desire within you to fill your home with guests and the
warming aromas of such appetizers as "Crab Cake Bites with Spicy Rémoulade"
featured on their site here

I chose two appetizers based on what I had on hand at the time. I did have to
make just a couple of adjustments as I had meyer lemons and clementines,
and my puff pastry was whole wheat.  I also had a few snips of garden herbs
that I wanted to use up, so added them to the cheese straws.

One of my favorite things about the book, aside from it's easy to follow
instructions, is that at the end of each recipe we are offered a set of
tips that the author provides. The tips come in three categories to
assist your entertaining experience a bit further. The categories are
Planning, Product Purity and Presentation. 

Recipe from picture-perfect meals: Little Book of Appetizers
What you will need:
For the Citrus Marinated Olives
12 ounces mixed gourmet olives
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, crushed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
(I added some sage and thyme)
2 bay leaves
Zest of 1 orange
(I used 2 clementines)
Zest of 1 lemon
(I used 1 meyer lemon)
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Let's get cooking:
For the Citrus Marinated Olives
Put olives and other ingredients into a mixing bowl, toss to
thoroughly coat. Then place olive mixture onto a large sheet of foil.
Folding the edges over one another to create a pouch.

Bake at 350 degrees in a pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes
or until heated through.
Serve warm or at room temperature
along with some orange and lemon slices.
Serves 8-10 as an appetizer

Now onto these delicately flaky cheese straws that I served with
a bit of pesto that I also received during the holidays. The dipping
sauce is just a small amount of prepared basil pesto with some
extra virgin olive oil added to thin it a bit.

You can serve these with a dipping sauce or oil, but they are
perfectly wonderful on their own :)

As I noted above I did make a couple of adjustments here as
well. First I again added some fresh chopped herbs of
sage and thyme. Another adjustment was that my puff pastry
was whole wheat and a different brand, so my sheets were
not the same size or shape. You can adjust this recipe
easily if needed to fit your pastry sheets.

Recipe from picture-perfect meals: Little Book of Appetizers
What you will need:
For the Puff Pastry Cheese Straws
2 sheets frozen all butter puff pastry, thawed
(I used wheat all butter puff pastry)
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
(I used Aged English Coastal Cheddar)
1 cup Parmesan, grated and divided
(I used Parmigiano Reggiano)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
(I added fresh sage and thyme, finely chopped)
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Let's get cooking:
For the Puff Pastry Cheese Straws
Line your work surface with parchment paper, lightly floured.
Roll out puff  pastry sheet to 1/16th inch thickness, trim sheet
to about a 16x18 inch rectangle. Transfer the dough along with the
parchment paper to a baking sheet.

Now spread all of the cheddar and 1/2 of the Parmesan onto the
puff pastry sheet. Sprinkle 1/2 smoked paprika and 1/2 cayenne over
the cheese mixture. Note: if adding herbs, use all of the herbs here in
the same manner of the spices.

Roll out a second sheet of pastry into the same dimensions as the
first. Place the second sheet evenly on top of the first sheet,
pressing lightly to seal.

Lightly brush the top pastry sheet with the egg was, then add
remaining Parmesan, smoked paprika and cayenne.
refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Using a sharp knife cut the dough into 24 8 inch strips.
Remove the dough from the baking sheet and replace the
parchment paper with a clean sheet.  Twist each strip into
a spiral shape like in the photo below, and transfer to a
prepared baking sheet. Press each spiral down at the tips.

Bake in two batches in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees F,
for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Makes 24 appetizers
(Note: if using different size sheets as I did, adjust to the
number of puff pastry straws that you will yield from 2 sheets.)

Both of these appetizers were a delight, and will be made again I assure :)
The book makes a wonderful kitchen companion and would make an equally
wonderful gift for any one at any level of cooking skill.

picture-perfect meals: Little Book of Appetizers can be purchased and
 previewed here on
Picture Perfect Meals  and here on Create Space.

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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