Recipe: Bleu cheese & apricot pastry bites — and a few last thanks…

Bleu Cheese & Apricot Pastry BitesHoly crap, it’s almost 2013. This year, more than any other in recent memory, I’ve taken little moments here and there to survey everything Chris and I have been able to pack into our compact Bay Area life, and darned if I don’t feel like a pretty lucky lady. It’s super easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of seemingly important, demanding, utterly crucial activities, isn’t it? Like, “ohmygod, I have to go to World Market right this minute to buy those 75% off Easter cheese puffs,” or  “if I don’t put in three 12-hour days this week, this stuff is never going to get done.” I have to remind myself that cheese puffs are a friggin’ luxury (at 75% off, damn right they are!) — and, in almost every situation, “it,” whatever it is, will get done. It always does.

So on that note, I’ll leave you today with the last five Days of Thanks that I’ve owed since November — PLUS a spectacularly simple and indulgent recipe that is the perfect accompaniment for those “little moments” earlier referenced. We’re talking Bleu Cheese & Apricot Pastry Bites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

30 Days of Thanks (Part 3 of 3, finally!)

I may be a little behind, but I couldn’t let the year roll over without acknowledging:

  • November 26: The geographical grandeur of CA. Before this turns into a lengthy homage to my home state, I’ll just go ahead and say — yes, you really can surf and ski in the same day. Have I done it? No. But I’ve seen surfers surfing and skiers skiing in the same day, so that counts, right?
  • November 27: Pickles. Oh, I’ve already listed pickles? Ya don’t say.
  • November 28: My food-driven family. It occurred to me recently that some families just don’t thrive on the tradition of food like mine does. They do the turkey thing at Thanksgiving, maybe, or pass down a family recipe for peach pie, but there are some folks out there whose worlds don’t revolve around things like gravy-laden liver and onions, emotionally charged bacon-braising or a perfect, handmade tamale.
  • November 29: Pork. My namesake, sort of. I can’t believe I haven’t said it yet. I love the pig, and the pig has been very good to me.
  • November 30: Delia’s Jeans. I feel like I’m taking things maybe a bit too far with this confession, but I’m just going to do it. I get my jeans at Delia’s. The teen store. Buy the Morgan fit 1-2 sizes smaller than you think you’d wear. Spend no less than five minutes trying to wriggle into them. It’s worth it, trust me. And the best part? Jeans are Buy One Get One 50% Off every single day.

Bleu Cheese & Apricot Pastry Puffs
By Emily Stoffel
Cook time: 20 mins | Serves: 6-8 as apps

Note: According to Trader Joe’s, “Huntsman Cheese is a marriage of two British standards, a match made in the English countryside. Double Gloucester is a mellow, tangy, and rich double cream cheese made with the milk of Gloucester cows in the region surrounding the Cotswolds in southwestern England. Stilton is a richly-veined, smooth & creamy blue whose flavor is distinctive yet surprisingly soft. Huntsman is a layered presentation of these two classics, with four layers of the orange-hued Double Gloucester enveloping three tiers of Blue Stilton.” I say it’s the perfect combo of mild and piquant that will have even bleu cheese haters swooning.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/2 lb Hunstman cheese 
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to 14″ square. Cut into 36 pieces and press into mini muffin pans. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, dice/crumble Hunstman cheese into small pieces and combine with apricot preserves. When pastry has parbaked, top with a dollop of cheese mixture and return to oven for 5-8 mins or until cheese is bubbling and pastry is browned. Allow pastry bites to cool slightly before removing. Top with freshly cracked black pepper and serve.

Recipe: Black bean, kale & farro soup with smoked olive oil (no bacon! whaaaat?)
Merry Christmas & Happy Fooding!