Chef Juje

A messy adventure in learning to cook

Parmesan and Swiss Cheese Twists

Appetizers are nice for trying out new recipes and techniques. If a recipe is a success, hey, nice surprise. If it fails, it’s not like you and your family are going to be left scrambling for alternative dinner plans.

I liked these twists because they use simple ingredients, are tasty, and are perfect for parties or cocktail hours at which a carbohydrate treat might be a nice complement to the beverages consumed.

This recipe came from Ina Garden in Food Network Magazine, November/December 2011.  Gosh, I’ve started reading that magazine like a textbook with all my highlights and scribbles and post-it flags.  But I digress.

Parmesan and Swiss Cheese Twists

Ingredients
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry (such as Pepperidge Farm, available with frozen desserts), defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
Flour, for dusting
1 extra-large egg
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup finely grated good (read: not Kraft singles) Swiss cheese. Use Gruyere {accent grave} if you are feeling fancy.
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until it is 10- by 12-inches or just a bit more wide than the sheet itself.
  • Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry.  Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan, 1⁄2 cup of the Swiss or Gruyere, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the thyme, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt, and some pepper.
  • With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavorings into the puff pastry.
  • Cut each sheet vertically with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Don’t over bake or the cheese will burn.
  • Cool and serve at room temperature.

Helpful Hints

Puff Pastry:  It may be tempting to treat puff pastry like cookie dough.  However, restrain yourself from forming a ball and starting over.  Try to keep the sheets in their original shape only flattened out a bit.  The thicker the puff pastry layer, the more puff pastry-heavy each twist will be. Also, if you can’t defrost the puff pastry overnight, leave it at room temp for about 30 or 40 minutes.  Try not to over defrost.

Roll:  I, too, read the directions all the way through.  I, too, read the part that says “lightly press ingredients into puff pastry.”  I, too, forgot the first time and ended up with a bunch of bland puff pastry curls.  Lightly press! Lightly press!

The Twist:  Someday I’ll make a video about how I’ve done these. The hardest part is the twist. I started on one corner and kind of curled each strip so it made an L-shape.  The tighter the twists, the better the particular twist turned out.

Parchment paper:  Parchment paper is NOT, as I had previously thought, the same as wax paper.  Use parchment paper. Unless you like cursing with a spatula.

Presentation:  These are delicious but can easily be missed at a cocktail party.  If you bring these in a Ziplock bag to a New Year’s Eve party, they may end up underneath the appetizer table to make room for fried mozzarella sticks and pizza rolls. If you put them on a nice dish and display them in an area where, say, nuts or crackers might be placed,  they will be gobbled up.

Ease: Tasty the first time but gets better with practice.

Source: Food Network Magazine, November/December 2011

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