"You're not going to put that on the blog, are you?" asked my husband as he sat down for dinner about a week ago. He was referring to the squares of flaky puff pastry, pasted with cream cheese and topped with sweet, fresh dates, almonds and sea salt that I had just prepared and was serving with a healthy heaping of baby lettuce. The same pastry tarts I so hurriedly prepared even after a day skiing at Afton Alps. My first ski lesson, I fell twice, my shins hurt from the pressure against the ski boots; in fact, my entire body hurt. (Skiing is a full body work out. ) And after being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, caused by the first snow storm of the season, for two hours, when all I wanted was to get home and crawl into bed, I still decided to make dinner.
"What do you mean? Is it not good? Well, I like it and, yes, I am planning on posting it. " This really was not the conversation I wanted to have now.
"I like it too! But I'm not sure that everyone would consider puff pastry healthy. As far as I know, it's made with a lot of butter."
He was right. More than fifty percent of the calories in puff pastry is in the form of fat. Your arteries cringe at the thought, don't they? This is why I have avoided baking with it for a long time, opting instead to make my tart and pie crusts from scratch - so that I can control how much butter goes into them.
But on this day, I had purposefully planned to make pastry tarts for dinner, knowing that we would have spent hours skiing. Although I had not skiied before, everything I heard and read about it prepared me for the workout it was supposed to be. Even for a beginner. Back home that evening, it seemed that my body was just too heavy for me. It wasn't that any particular muscle hurt but the general feeling for being completely exhausted. I couldn't think of a better time to have a rich and buttery dinner: after a vigorous workout. (I deserved it dammit!)
I found these pre- cut, single serving squares of dough on my last grocery trip. Not only are they conveniently packaged and separated with wax paper, it also is a good way to use just the right amount. No more thawing the entire roll just to get enough for one tart then refrezzing the rest, or being inadvertently forced to use up the roll. And if you're counting calories, each square is two hundred and twenty. Maybe I'll make this meal a post-ski tradition.
Date and Cheese Tarts with Almonds
Makes 4 servings
4 squares puff pastry dough (5x5 inches)
1 cup mejdool dates
1/4 cup fat free cream cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper
slivered almonds (optional)
1. Set the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut the dates in half, discard their seeds, and flatten slightly with your fingers.
3. Place the puff pastry squares on a baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Spread an equal amount of the cream cheese unto each square, top with parmesan and dates, followed by salt and pepper, and the almonds, if using.
3. Bakes for 15 to 20 minutes until the tarts have puffed up and are golden brown.