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The Best Appetizer You Can Make, with Piment d’Espelette

I love appetizers,

…because I love the moment of the day they fit into.  For me, that is evening before dinner, long after the sun has set in the winter; as shadows lengthen in the summer. The workday is done, I’ve been preparing a meal and all the while thinking about what I will serve the minute people arrive. 

When Relaxation and Enjoyment are the Only Things to Worry About

I’ve thought about my devotion to small dishes, and I’ve decided that in part, it’s because I serve them – and others do too – when relaxation and enjoyment are the only things to be concerned with.  One sits, one sinks – into a chair, a sofa, even onto a stool – and forth come a selection of yummy appetizers and something delicious to drink alongside.

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We are giving away ONE of our BRAND NEW Plat du Jour courses!!!   All you have to do is engage with us on our Instagram pages and YouTube channel.

FIVE runner ups will receive jars of piment d’Espelette, an amazing spice from the pepper which grows only in the French Basque country.  

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These Pastry Sticks Will Get the Evening Going

Whatever the reason for my acute adoration of the appetizer, these pastry sticks fit the bill and are a standard part of the amuse-bouche/hors d’oeuvre selection in my home. I don’t say at my table because I don’t serve the amuse-bouches at the table. I find another spot to enjoy them, a sort of mid-entry point to the evening.  In my big house, it is the kitchen counter in front of the fireplace; in my tiny Paris kitchen it is near the big window in the living room with its terrace-like feel and its view of the kitchen.

Crisp, Salty, Gently Spicy with Piment d’Espelette

Now, the reason I love these pastry sticks with piment d’Espelette is because they satisfy all my criteria – crisp, salty, gently spicy, addictive.  But here’s another secret. They’re so easy.  I’m a tart-maker, and these sticks are made from pastry scraps.  Not from just any pastry: THE WORLD’S BEST TART PASTRY (recipe below).  I created the recipe; I use it many times a week, and I turn the scraps into these salty appetizers.  And if you have piment d’Espelette on hand (which I recommend and which you may win in our GIVEAWAY), then making these is a slam-dunk.

How Does the Amuse Bouche Fit into the French Meal?

So how does the amuse-bouche fit into the non-snacking French way of eating?  The blame is on the Russians, who have a tradition of pre-meal snacks called zakuskis.  The story goes that this tradition seeped into Scandinavia (aptitretare in Swedish; alkupala in Finnish; forrett in Norwegian), into Germany where, some say, it didn’t stay too long (vorspeise in German), then into France where it stuck, and became hors d’oeuvre or entremet. All of this apparently took place during the Middle Ages, and in France the little dishes became increasingly elaborate and were sprinkled throughout the meal, served before a major dish.  The name amuse bouche was coined at the same time we were all enjoying nouvelle cuisine, in the 1970’s.

Tips for Success

The pastry recipe is below, so make a tart and use the scraps for the appetizers OR do as I sometimes do: use the WHOLE lot of pastry to make many, many of these crunchy delights!

If using scraps, there are a couple of things that will guarantee success:  do NOT re-roll the scraps.  Your scraps will be all kinds of shapes, no problem.  Cut the larger pieces into strips, leave the others as they come. No one will mind. To bake, place them on parchment, brush them lightly with water or milk, then sprinkle them with the piment d’Espelette and fleur de sel, and bake until they are puffed and golden (about 11 minutes at 400F;200C). 

Best the Day They are Made

These pastry sticks will keep for 24 hours, though they are best the day they’re made, and in my experience, storage isn’t a problem.  There are rarely leftovers.  That said, they freeze perfectly. You’ll need to heat them in a hot (400F;200C) oven for about 5 minutes, before serving.

Bon Appétit!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

PATE BRISÉE - TENDER TART PASTRY

Tender, buttery, almost like puff pastry, this simple pastry will change your life. It’s very quick to make, and the trick to its success is handling it as little as possible. Astuce: this is made in a food processor, so the ingredients stay cold while they’re being put together. Once the pastry is made, it needs to sit at room temperature before rolling out
Cuisine: French
Keyword: fine sea salt, flour, unsalted butter, water

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups;205g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 large pinch fine sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons;180g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Instructions

  • Place the flour and the salt in a food processor and process once to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the 5 tablespoons ice water and pulse just until the pastry begins to hold together. If the pastry seem dry and dusty, add the remaining 1 tablespoon water.
  • Transfer the pastry from the food processor to your work surface and form it into a flat round. Let it rest on a work surface, covered with a bowl, for at least 30 minutes. The pastry can sit several hours at room temperature, as long as the room isn’t warmer than 68 degrees. The pastry is ready to use as desired.

Notes

Pastry for one 10 ½-inch (26 ½ cm) to 12-1/2 inch (31.5cm) tart with a bit leftover

4 thoughts on “The Best Appetizer You Can Make, with Piment d’Espelette”

      1. Yes! As you said in the video, “They are addictive!” One of the guests said he would have been happy just having these for dinner. 😁

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