Make Ahead Appetizers for Easy Entertaining

A few weeks ago my spouse and I along with another couple co-hosted a good bye dinner for friends who are moving out of town. My pal, Maddy, one of the hosts, and I planned the menu together, choosing dishes that could be prepared in advance so we would not miss out on socializing.  Savory warm mushroom, leek, and bacon pinwheels, one of the appetizers, was especially popular with all the guests. Now that I am across the Atlantic in Paris, I’ve pulled out the recipe again. I plan to invite friends for appetizers, and serve these golden spirals with glasses of wine when we entertain here.

 A sheet of puff pastry is spread with a mixture of sautéed mushrooms, leeks, and crumbled bacon all bound with cream cheese, then rolled into a cylinder. (A big bonus is that you can complete the recipe up to this point and freeze the roll a week ahead.) Cut into pinwheels, these spirals are baked until golden and crispy. If you want to keep these hors d’oeuvres vegetarian, simply replace the chicken stock with a good quality vegetable stock and omit the bacon. Still delicious!







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Savory Mushroom, Leek, and Bacon Pinwheels

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces mushrooms, either white or brown, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped leeks
6 tablespoons chicken stock
6 oz cream cheese, broken into chunks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 good pinches cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley or chives plus 2 to 3 tablespoons more for the garnish

One 17 1/4 oz package frozen puff pastry with 2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted (See market note.)
4 bacon slices, fried or microwaved until golden and crisp, then cooled and crumbled
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish

1.For filling melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and leeks and sauté, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the stock and cook over high heat until all the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes depending on the skillet you are using. Watch carefully.

2.Reduce the heat to medium low and add the cream cheese. Cook, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Taste and add more seasonings if desired. Stir in 3 tablespoons of parsley. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl or dish; cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, about 45 minutes or more.

3.On a lightly floured work surface, roll one sheet of puff pastry into a 12- by10 1/2-inch rectangle. With a long side of the pastry in front of you and using a metal spatula spread the filling evenly over the sheet going all the way to the edges, except for a 1/2-inch border on the top long side. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the mushroom mixture. Roll up the pastry starting on the long side without the border, tightly into a coil. Moisten the 1/2-inch border with water and press to seal. Wrap the roll in plastic, then in foil and freeze to firm, about 45 minutes.(The puff pastry roll can be prepped and frozen to this point a week ahead. Before using, transfer the roll to the refrigerator to defrost overnight. Then continue with step 4  of the recipe.)

4.To make the pinwheels, using a serrated knife, slice 3/8–inch thick slices from the roll. You should get about 25 or more pinwheels. Transfer the pinwheels to a large baking sheet lined with parchment. (The pinwheels can be prepared to this point 6 hours in advance. Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

5.To bake, arrange rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

6.Bake pinwheels 15 to 17 minutes or longer until pastry is golden. Using a metal spatula transfer them on a serving tray or platter. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese and then with the extra chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 25 or more pinwheels.

Market note: You will only need to use one of the two puff pastry sheets in a 17.4 ounce box of puff pastry. Wrap the remaining sheet in a double thickness of plastic wrap and keep in the original box.  Return to the freezer for a later use.

Adapted from First Impressions (William Morrow 1992) by Betty Rosbottom

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