Artichokes and Chevre on Puff Pastry

If you are feeling a little adventurous and want an impressive appetizer, you’ve come to the right blog post! This lovely, flaky layered wonder comes to us from Clothilde Dusoulier of Chocolate & Zucchini (via NPR!) and will be a crowning glory at your next cocktail or dinner party!

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(Serves 4 as a first course)

4 fresh globe artichokes (look for firm artichokes that feel heavy for their size, evenly colored and free of blemishes, with their leaves tightly closed) *

the juice from half a lemon

2.5 ounces fresh goat cheese

one sheet of puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

1 teaspoon dried thyme

olive oil

fleur de sel or kosher salt

Step 1 – Prepare the artichoke filling

Fill a bowl with enough water to cover the artichoke hearts, pour in the lemon juice and set aside. For each artichoke, snap off the bottom stem and then trim the tough leaves at the base and the tops of the leaves at the artichoke’s tip, roughly one-third. Remove the rest of the leaves carefully until you reach the choke, a dome of inedible fibers that protect the artichoke heart. Scrape it out with a melon baller or a spoon, taking care not to damage the heart underneath. Place the heart in the bowl of lemon water to prevent it from browning while you work on the rest of the artichokes.

Bring salted water (enough to cover the artichoke hearts) to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the artichoke hearts, bring back to a boil and cook for eight minutes. Drain and let cool.

Place the artichoke hearts, the fresh goat cheese and two teaspoons of olive oil in a food processor and pulse until combined but still slightly chunky. (This can also be done by hand with a fork.) Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Step 2 – Prepare the pastry

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Draw a 1.5” x 4” rectangle on a sheet of paper and cut it out. On a floured surface, gently roll the sheet of puff pastry to 10″ x 11″ or 12″ rectangle. Use the paper rectangle as a guide to cut out 12 equal pastry rectangles or bite-size squares with a sharp knife.

Transfer the pastry rectangles onto the cookie sheet, leaving them a little room to expand. Prick the rectangles with the tines of a fork (to prevent the dough from rising too much as it bakes), brush the rectangles with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with thyme and fleur de sel. Put into the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes, until puffy and golden. Turn out on a rack to cool.

Step 3 – Assemble

Put two rectangles of pastry on a work surface. Spread each of them with a rounded tablespoon of filling, working carefully so as not to break or damage the pastry. Put them one on top of the other, top with a third rectangle and set aside. Repeat with the remaining rectangles and filling.

Serve immediately, with a few plum tomatoes (stem-on for a prettier effect) and a drizzle of vinaigrette.

* The intensity of taste in fresh artichokes is incomparable. But if they are hard to come by, you can substitute frozen artichoke hearts (these are usually sold uncooked and should be boiled just like fresh artichoke hearts), or marinated artichoke hearts from a jar (these are already cooked, simply drain and pat them dry).

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