There's nothing quite as delicious and fulfilling as the combination of good friends and good food, so why not come together to connect and share over these savory puff pastry bites?
With my hubby and I about to become empty-nesters, we've vowed to ourselves to take advantage of that extra bit of time that we may be finding ourselves with soon, and enjoy more socializing and intimate gatherings with friends and the people that we hold dear.
The truth is, it isn't just teenagers that need and want that amazing connection with peers, those like-minded people of a similar age that just seem to “get you”; but we, "adults", long for those types of connections, as well, and they're incredibly important to our well-being and to the health and happiness of our spirits!
A little while back, my husband and I were very excited to invite our good friends over for a light meal and a good connection, and what a great evening we had!
For me, having that purpose of sharing good food with people who enjoy partaking of it makes my cooking experience that much more alive and meaningful; because I look forward to the opportunity to nourish our friends so that they may know that they are cared for and loved, and to bring a bit of warmth and comfort not only to their bellies, but to their souls.
One of the items that we all enjoyed so much were little puff pastry roll-ups filled with a savory, herb-y, and slightly lemony cheese filling, plus little bits of chopped baby spinach.
And boy were they tasty!
We all had to pace ourselves since there was, in fact, still more food to come a little later on, but these warm, fresh-from-the-oven little appetizer-type treats really hit the spot for us as we chatted away and talked about the things that were going on in our lives.
And after our get-together, my hubby said that I should for sure share these on the blog for all of you to have a go with, and enjoy nibbling on with your own friends and families.
So I'm sharing!
I've tweaked the recipe just a little bit, and made these into more of a “puff” shape, and gave them a divinely delicious and savory dipping sauce on the side made with earthy and golden caramelized onions and sweet, tangy crushed tomatoes to make these a little more special and substantial.
They're really a delicious little snack or finger-food to enjoy with some good wine or drinks, while everyone's catching up and sharing the goings-on in their lives.
There's nothing quite like that wonderful combination of great food and great friends to make an evening memorable and scrumptiously exquisite, and to help us to be grateful for things of quality and meaning in our lives.
Connecting with the people that either already know us well and love us for who we are, or want to get to know and love us for who we are, is the best thing for the human spirit and for the heart.
We all long to connect and to be accepted, no matter our age.
We'll always need those special and beautiful people in our lives who will be there to support us, to listen to us, and to bolster us when we need it.
The older we get, the more vibrant our relationships become, frankly, because many of the insecurities of our youth seem to melt away, just as many of the pretenses that perhaps once resided in us at an earlier time seem to evaporate.
And that's a wonderful and real thing.
So here's to those brilliantly beautiful friendships in our lives, to those people that we love and who love us, and to enjoying tasty little things to nibble on like little savory puff pastry bites, all while coming together and sharing in life.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Puff Pastry Spinach Cheese Bites with Tomato Caramelized Onion Chutney
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes 32 puffs
• ½ cup whipped cream cheese
• ½ cup shredded Italian four-cheese blend
• ¼ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
• ¼ cup, packed, baby spinach leaves, chopped finely
• 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 teapsoon chopped chives
• ½ teaspoon lemon zest
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• Pinch black pepper
• 1 (14 ounce) package puff pastry, thawed in fridge (I use “Dufour” brand all-butter puff pastry, but you can use any brand)
• 1 egg, whisked, for egg wash
• Tomato-Caramelized Onion Chutney (recipe below)
-Add all of the filling ingredients from the whipped cream cheese up to and including the pinch of black pepper to a bowl, and mix well to combine; set aside (place into fridge if making ahead).
-Place the thawed puff pastry sheet in front of you on a lightly floured work surface, unfold, and gently roll out to make it even and just slightly thinner; cut the puff pastry into 32 small rectangles (that's 4 strips horizontally, 4 strips vertically, and then cut those 16 squares in half again).
-Add about a ½ teaspoon of the filling into the center of each. (You can keep any leftover filling for use as a spread on toast, or even with crackers or veggies!)
-Brush the top edges with some of the egg wash, and fold the bottom over the filling to touch the top, and carefully press with your fingers to seal the edges; repeat until all are done, placing the little pockets onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
-Brush the tops with more egg wash, and place them into the fridge to chill for about 15- 20 minutes.
-While they chill, preheat your oven to 400°; then, bake the puffs for 20-22 minutes, until golden-brown, crispy and puffy.
-Serve warm with warm Tomato-Caramelized Onion Chutney for dipping.
Tomato-Caramelized Onion Chutney Ingredients:
• Olive oil
• 2 white onions, cut in half, and then each half cut into thirds, then sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• Black pepper
• ½ teaspoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
• Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
-Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 4 tablespoons of oil; once it becomes hot, add in the sliced onion, and allow it to slowly caramelize, stirring frequently, for about 12-14 minutes.
-Stir in the garlic, plus a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and the sugar; once the garlic becomes aromatic, add in the balsamic vinegar and stir, and allow it to become syrupy and reduced, about 30 seconds.
-Add in the crushed tomatoes, along with the chopped parsley, and stir to combine; add a little more salt and pepper to taste, and allow the mixture to simmer gently for about 1 minute, just to meld the flavors.
-Allow to cool slightly, and serve; or, prepare ahead of time, allow to cool completely, and keep covered in fridge until ready to serve, and reheat then.