Recipe: Pistachio and chive goat cheese on puff pastry wafers
The better the goat cheese, the better the spread. Look for artisanal and farmstead goat cheeses—almost every farmers' market I've been to has some local purveyors. However, please don’t think that commercial goat cheeses won't work. I developed this recipe using several different supermarket brands and all were good. I prefer to buy pistachios in the shell because they are fresher, and it seems to me that shelling your own is ample justification for the cook to munch a few. Take off any loose pistachio skins while you're at it. I like to pipe a rosette of goat cheese on top of each wafer for a festive look, but it works equally well (and certainly tastes as great) to place a teaspoonful dab on each wafer with a butter knife.
Puff Pastry Wafers
1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, from a 17.3-ounce package (1/2 package)
All-purpose flour for dusting
1 large egg, beaten
Pistachio and Chive Goat Cheese Topping
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
5 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup shelled natural pistachio nuts, finely chopped
3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
Freshly ground pepper
35 shelled natural pistachio nuts for garnish
1 Remove 1 pastry sheet from the puff pastry package and thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes. Tightly seal the remaining pastry sheet and return it to the freezer for another use. (Or, double the recipe and make 70 pastry wafers.)
2 Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Have ready 2 identically sized rimmed baking sheets. Line 1 pan with parchment paper, and have ready a second sheet of parchment paper the same size.
3 Unfold the pastry sheet and place it on a lightly floured cutting board. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry just enough to remove the fold marks. Using a 1 3/4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out about 35 rounds. Place the rounds on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of the rounds with the beaten egg, being careful the egg doesn't run down the sides. Cover with the second sheet of parchment, and place the second (empty) baking sheet on top, so the baking sheets nest together. (This will keep the pastry even and prevent it from rising too much, creating crisp wafers.) Bake until crisp and light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the top baking sheet and piece of parchment and let the wafers cool on the pan on a wire rack. (The wafers can be made up to 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.)
4 To make the goat cheese topping, combine the garlic and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until the garlic is finely minced. Add the goat cheese and butter and process until well mixed and smooth. Scatter the nuts and chives over the top, add a few grinds of pepper, and pulse 2 or 3 times until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (The goat cheese spread can be made up to 2 days in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before piping or spreading on the wafers.)
5 To assemble the hors d'oeuvres, spoon the goat cheese topping into a pastry bag fitted with a 5/8-inch open star tip and pipe a rosette onto the center of each wafer. Alternatively, use a butter knife to apply a delicate dab of the goat cheese topping to the top of each wafer. Top each rosette or dab with a pistachio. Arrange on a platter and serve at room temperature.
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Excerpted from The Christmas Table by Diane Morgan. Copyright 2009 by Chronicle Books. Excerpted with permission by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.