A few weeks ago I started pouring through the pages of The French Kitchen Cookbook, the latest book by the famed French food expert, Patricia Wells. I mentioned on here before that I hold precious few cookbooks in my possession. This one is a dandy. It is replete with recipes, tips, photos and stories. Besides being a food critic, educator, and writer, the author holds cooking classes in Paris and at her home in Provence. This book transports you to those places and under her guidance, helps you to put all of these recipes together. This appetizer in particular caught my eye, right away. It seemed unique, flavorful, and not overly complicated. With that in mind, I set out to make these and about midway through the process I decided that if Patrica Wells had been observing what I was doing (or not doing), it is likely I would have been put on the “do not admit under any circumstance list” for her cooking classes. Although I feel certain that the finished product wasn’t quite what the author had intended as an outcome, happily it wasn’t bad.
Saturday evening we visited a friend who I had not seen in four or five years. The night had been weeks in the planning, with the calendars of three or four different families taking almost as many months to jive so that we could all convene for one Saturday night.
In the weeks leading up to this Saturday night in waiting, I became somewhat acquainted with Patricia Wells and her career, while covering a luncheon and book signing during her promotion of The French Kitchen Cookbook, her latest and recently published cookbook.
I can’t recall if it was her website, or in the pages of the book itself, but this recipe caught my eye. It seemed relatively easy and something different and tasty, as an appetizer. No matter, I read and then reread the short recipe a couple of times and figured I could give it a go. What follows is my rendition of her recipe, as found in The French Kitchen Cookbook.
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large sweet onions (I used Vidalia), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin half-moons
- kosher salt
- 4 oz soft goat cheese
- Grated zest from 1 lemon
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 small chili pepper, washed, halved, and seeded
- ½ cup small artichoke hearts
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Apply non-stick coating to a mini-muffin pan (16 mold capacity.)
- Thaw puff pastry per package instructions.
- On lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to 6" x 18"
- Melt butter in large skillet over low heat.
- Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cover and allow to cook about for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Using food processor, combine cooked onions, goat cheese, lemon zest, eggs, half of thyme (reserve remaining half for garnish, chili pepper, and artichoke hearts.
- Pulse process to blend until just well mixed but not pureed.
- Using mini muffin pan, spoon a tablespoon into each mold.
- Cut puff pastry into 2½ inch diameter rounds using biscuit cutter.
- Cover each muffin mold with a round of puff pastry.
- Place muffin pan in oven until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 25 minutes.
- Allow to cool slightly.
- Remove from molds an turn them over, pastry side down.
- Garnish with remaining thyme and light pinch of kosher salt and serve warm or at room temperature.
Experiment with flavors and different cheese. For example, in lieu of goat cheese and artichokes, try cheddar cheese and a couple of slices of bacon.
When placing pastry on top of molds, place pastry edge down, against inside edge of molds.