” Amuse(d) Bouche”

  Is this a tapa, or little bite, possibly an hors d’ oeuvres,  (it is definitely not dinner, unless you plan on eating lots of them at one time),  it also might be a snack…..no no….it is an amuse-bouche!

This might be one of those phrases that might run its course very quickly….or not. It has been popping up everywhere about all kinds of subjects other than food. It has been used to describe everything from delightful little bites bestowed on diners at no cost in certain restaurants as a “gift” from the chef to entice the appetite……..as well as in regards to Mitt Romney’s run for the President in an article written by a columnist for the Chicago Tribune titled “Romney’s Tax Amuse Bouche”. It was sighted in a magazine article called “Yoga for Foodies” and I ran across a mystery novel written by a Canadian, Anthony Bidulka, entitled “Amuse Bouche: A Russell Quaint Mystery”. I continue to be amazed and amused at the things I don’t know.

Here are some pretty “amuse-bouche” I whipped up for New Years Eve earlier this month.

I had some French bubbly with my “amuse-bouche” which I think would be correct? I do not think Romney was having bubbly when he was discussing his “amuse-bouche” which might have been more correctly referred to as a “amuse-gueule”.

Basically here is what this all means:

amuse-bouche (uh-MYUZ-boosh) noun

Similar to but not to be confused with hors d’oeuvre. This is a tidbit, often tiny, served as a free extra to keep you happy while you are waiting for your first course to come. It gives you an idea of the chef’s approach to cooking and the restaurant’s attention to your appetite.

From French, literally, “mouth amuser”, from amuser (to amuse) + bouche (mouth).

Its more informal twin, amuse-gueule, (see above in relationship to Mitt Romney) is the same thing, but may be considered vulgar in some circles. Gueule is the French term for an animal’s mouth, bouche for a human’s.

You don’t really need a recipe to create some interesting “amuse-bouche” for your next get-together. I made mine from what I had in my pantry and refrigerator/freezer. Here is what you will need & instructions:
One box of frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions, cut into shapes using cookie cutters to top with various ingredients. Cut & fit dough into small muffin tins to fill & bake. Cut some of the dough into squares & circles to top and bake with ingredients.
Gather a collection of the following:
Creamy spreadable cheeses such as Boursin, cream cheese, goat cheese, etc.,  olives, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, shredded cheeses, caramelized onions, crispy cooked bacon or ham, cooked fingerling potatoes, steamed asparagus spears, grape tomatoes, capers, etc…

Spread, top & fill puff pastry cut-outs with ingredients. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees until your little bites are hot, bubbly and the pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately…with Champagne, Prosecco or Cava chilled.

Eat well, stay warm.

2012 List

“IN”……………….”OUT”

1. amuse-bouche……….tapas

 2.  molasses……..brown sugar

3.  vegan…………..vegetarian

4. quinoa…………………..rice

5. csa……………………….CIA

6. Vimeo…………….You Tube

          7.  local artisan chocolate…..chocolate at the check-out

  8.  apples…………………apples

    9.   coffee at home……Starbucks

      10.  Us………………………………me

What’s your list?

“Cheese Tart & Clicquot…Happy New Year”

It was crisply chilled, there were multiple bottles, they were shared among friends, we brought appetizer’s….small, delicate, chocolate “cake-ettes” appeared from our hostess…”Table Topics” was introduced & we were off on many conversational roads leading to others, politics, history, funny stories & memories, food……it was the best of New Year’s Eves. Happy 2011

Wouter, Nancy, Jim, Wendy, me & Bill

An “Alsatian Cheese Tart” for New Year’s Eve, adapted from a recipe found at epicurious.com, originally in “Gourmet” Magazine, Feb. 2006

For this you will need: 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed; 1/2 cup whole milk cottage cheese; 1/4 cup plain yogurt; salt & pepper; 6 slices of bacon cooked crispy & broken into pieces; 1/2 small yellow onion sliced very thinly; 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To Make:

I discovered this Puff Pastry “Dufour Pastry Kitchens” brand at Whole Foods a couple of days ago and butter is the first ingredients listed. This inspired me to try it out with this Tart recipe. It is very delicious, baked up perfectly and tasted  like puff pastry is supposed to taste. Buttery!

1. With oven rack in the middle of oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw whatever puff pastry you use according to package directions.

2. While pastry is thawing prepare toppings. Blend together cottage cheese, yogurt, salt & pepper. Cook bacon ’til crisp & thinly slice onion.

3. Slightly roll out pastry on lightly floured surface with a rolling-pin. You will have a rectangle about 15″ x 10″ more or less.  Using a sharp knife I cut the pastry into two equal size pieces as I wanted to make one with bacon and the other vegetarian.

4. Place both pieces of pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread half the cheese mixture over the surface of each to within 1 inch of edge all way around. Sprinkle thin slices of onion over all. On one side sprinkle all the crumbled bacon. Top both with grated Parmesan cheese. Optional: sprinkle over both a light dusting of Italian Seasoning.

5. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffy. About 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes. Cut into small “two-bite” squares to serve.

(While my tart was baking I made a cup of Yogi Chai Tea. The tags on the tea bags have “pearls of wisdom” on them…this “worth sharing” tag pretty much says it all)

….Out of the oven……

Bon Apetit all year-long!