I’m still relatively new to Gainesville, and I’ve got mixed feelings on the place. On the one hand, I can walk to school, work, about 30 restaurants and pubs and a park. Granted, I have to make it through a variety of colorful characters to get to any of those places – affable dumpster-diving can collectors, herds of marauding feral cats and the ever-present tribes of
exactly the same similarly-dressed sorority sisters (I’ve ranked them in order of most to least enjoyable).
And the heat is getting rather stifling.
I grew up by the water in a charming little town called St. Petersburg (not really little, or a town). It’s surrounded on three sides by water and, while it gets hot, it never approaches the depressing oppression of the Gainesville summer. And when it does get hot in St. Pete, you go to the beach or the pool and relax.
Gainesville is surrounded on all sides by nothing, which is a new sensation for me. I can drive an hour to the Florida’s west coast and visit Cedar Key (as I will on Friday) or an hour and a half to St. Augustine on the East Coast. For someone who’s spent all of their life within 5 minutes of a beach/boat launch/kayaking bayou, that’s a tough reality to face.
In Journalism school, these first few paragraphs would be known as a “false lead.” This post is really about a pastry, but I couldn’t help spilling my guts on the hometown blues that had been getting me down.
So, with a week off in between Fall and Summer semesters (thanks, grad school), we decided to head home and spend some time with family, which ended up being a nice respite from all the joys of school and dry land.
And (here comes the big transition), while we were in town, we tried out this recipe for Asparagus and Parmesan Cream Pastries.
They were great, although, if you follow the instructions, they make for a somewhat strangely portioned appetizer, in my opinion. Each piece, it seemed, was larger than what I expected (more than one person could eat as an app or side dish, provided that one person wasn’t me). So, I’ll recommend cutting them into smaller chunks if you’re having multiple people over to eat.
Here’s what you need:
- 8 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough
- 1/2 cup(s) of grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
- 5 basil leaves, chopped
- 1 pound(s) of fresh asparagus (16 spears)
- 1 pinch of sea salt
- 2 tbsp. of olive oil
- 2 tbsp. of shaved parmesan cheese
- 1 nonstick cooking spray
Here’s what to do (directly from the source):
Step 1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Step 2) Remove pastry dough from freezer and let thaw for 10 minutes.
Step 3) While dough is thawing, wash and trim asparagus so it is 1 in. shorter than the pastries.
Step 4) In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, grated parmesan, chopped basil leaves, and lemon juice. Set aside.
Step 5) Spread dough onto a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cut into four equal rectangles and spread apart slightly on sheet.
Step 6) Spread cream cheese mixture onto each of the pastry rectangles, not quite to each edge. Press four asparagus spears onto each rectangle, alternating direction. Sprinkle pastries with a pinch of sea salt and drizzle with olive oil.
Step 7) Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes until pastries are golden brown.
Step 8) Remove from oven, slice each pastry in half (and then half again) and transfer to serving platter. Garnish with a sprinkle of shaved parmesan cheese and serve (I skipped this step, for lack of shaveable parmesan)
And I’d like to also note that I didn’t have a proper camera with me, so these pictures are all oil-on-canvas. Kidding, from my iPhone.
One final thought – best of luck and best wishes to my buddy Grant, who set out this past week to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, from Springer Mountain, GA all the way to Maine. That’s a really, really long walk.