We are recovering from a month of hard core party weekends. Living in a college town with big time football is always fun, but it’s sort of like having a vacation home in Florida — everyone wants to visit and it’s always time to imbibe. I am not complaining because we love having family and friends around, but I will say that my liver might be crying “uncle.” There are only so many mornings you can wake up slightly hungover and have to face a Bloody Mary at 9:00 AM — while your young children are screaming crazy demands like “I want breakfast.”
Beyond that, the pace is furious to get the shopping done, the sheets changed, the house cleaned, and the liquor cabinet stocked. And then after the weekend is over, your house looks like a tornado has blown through, you have not caught up on any household chores, you are exhausted, and you basically have to get everything back in shape for the next weekend.
So, cooking has not been first on my list lately. I wish I could say that I have been making big pots of tailgate chili or lovely brunches served in the stadium parking lot, but it has been more like takeout wings, deli trays, barbecue chips, and store bought pasta salad. I am *trying* to learn to recognize my limits and respect my sanity.
This weekend we had a party to go to and I offered to bring an appetizer. The only problem was that my brother came into town the night before and we were all up way too late drinking rum cocktails with coconut water (he promised me it would stave off a hangover — so I can’t figure out whether I drank too many or too few). Long and short of it, I was not feeling overly energetic the next day and made this tart with items that were all hanging around the pantry and freezer. It turned out well, so I thought I’d share because it was so easy.
And if I can ever get myself out from under the dirty dishes (my dishwasher is broken again — yeah!), children, laundry, Star Wars figures, and empty bottles for recycling, I might try to get back in the kitchen and cook something that doesn’t come with directions.
Salami and Pesto Tart
(Makes a 12×15 inch tart)
1 package of puff pastry, thawed (2 sheets)
8 oz. cream cheese (1 package), softened to room temperature
4 oz. pesto (mine was from the freezer)
4 oz. thinly sliced salami, sliced into thin strips (prosciutto or other cured hams would be great too)
1 T olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2-3 T pine nuts
Parmesan Cheese, shaved into strips
Fresh basil, chopped
Heavy cream or beaten egg (to brush pastry with)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry onto a sheet of parchment paper and roll out into a 12×15 inch rectangle. Take remaining sheet of pastry and slice into one inch strips. Lay strips on perimeter of the 12×15 inch rectangle (to make it look like a picture frame). Prick lower rectangle all over with fork (don’t prick sides). Bake pastry for 15 minutes, pricking center rectangle with a fork if it puffs too much. The goal is to keep the center of the rectangle flat, while allowing the sides to puff.
2. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer whip the cream cheese with the pesto until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add in one egg. Mix well.
3. In a small saute pan, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat and add salami strips. Fry until strips have rendered some fat and are slightly crisp. Drain on paper towels.
4. When pastry is done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Spread cream cheese/pesto mixture into the center portion of the pastry (just not on the “frame” portion of the pastry). Sprinkle salami strips, and then pine nuts all over cream cheese/pesto mixture. Brush “frame” portion of pastry with some cream or beaten egg. Bake tart 15-20 minutes until golden.
5. Remove from oven and cool completely. Scatter parmesan shavings and basil all over. Cut into squares and serve.