Kitchen Confessions: Easy entertaining

I am pretty sure I mentioned to you a couple of weeks ago that the holiday season is right around the corner. As you read this now, you need to accept that you have a scant 10 days to get your ducks in a row before your family/friends/in-laws converge upon your home seeking some sort of holiday food offering. This is NOT the time for you to pull out chips and salsa. This is your time show your peeps how much you care, by shoving delicious fattening foods into their faces. It’s just that pesky time management thing that seems to get in the way….

As always, I’ve got your back. This week, I share with you an impressive, yet dead easy, recipe that is sure to impress, and like all my recipes, is totally customizable for all those dietary challenged people in your life. Someone hates olives? Take them off and use roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes. Rosemary seems to offend certain people in my circle – they can substitute with fresh oregano or thyme.

If you’re entertaining a meat-loving crowd, how bout thinly shaved prosciutto or salamis – the key is to layer only lovely light things as not to overwhelm that fluffy puff pastry. Vegans can rejoice, as most grocery store puff pastries contain no butter at all. All you guys need to do is dig out your nutritional yeast (a popular cheese substitute) and bake away!

Olive and Parmesan puff

Ingredients:½ package ready-made puff pastry (Tenderflake is the best)

Flour for dusting rolling surface

1 cup assorted olives, pits removed and halved

¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated and separated ½ cup and ¼ cup

1 large shallot, sliced thinly lengthwise

1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stem and coarsely chopped

Olive oil

Defrost the puff pastry. Careful not to have it sitting anywhere too warm! Once defrosted, keep it chilled in fridge until ready to use (also don’t try doing this in your microwave). Preheat oven to 400°F and line a cookie sheet or pizza pan with baking paper and set aside. Lightly spread some flour on your work space and roll out the pastry into whatever size is going to fit on your pan. If you want to be fancy, you could crimp the edges, but this is supposed to be “rustic” so don’t go ballistic or anything.

Brush a bit of olive oil onto the pastry, sprinkle ½ cup of the Parmesan onto the crust. Now scatter the olives, shallot and rosemary on top. Sprinkle on a bit more of the Parmesan and give another drizzle of olive oil. Throw that into the oven for 25 minutes and mentally prepare yourself for “oohs” and “ahs” when you take it out of the oven. Secretly laugh to yourself as you serve this to your guests, knowing it literally took you under 15 minutes to prepare. I know this because I timed myself making it. Sprinkle with a bit more of the Parmesan and red chili flakes or fresh parsley For serving, you can go full rustic and let people slice a piece for themselves, or you can let your A-type freak flag fly and measure out exact little 4×4 squares … maybe don’t do that.

Now sit back and survey the enjoyment everyone is having cozied up, slamming treats, “sipping” their drinks, and giving in to those warm festive feelings. Food is usually the cornerstone that brings people together in every culture and every religion — so no matter who you are and what you’re celebrating this season, please bask in the glow that you are loved and have a belly full of goodness.

Season’s greetings from me to all of you!

Shannon Yacyshyn is a recovering food blogger (the original Red Deer Foodie) who is passionate about trying new ways of cooking healthy foods in her kitchen.

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