How to impress your mother-in-law

Apart from giving birth to a perfect grandchild, that is. Make these!

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I like cooking and I like making nice meals for special occasions but I’m not much for entrees. I’m a cheese and crackers or chips and dip (depending on the formality level) kinda gal. I decided to switch it up for Di’s birthday dinner because she is an amazing cook for whom three courses is no big deal. She also does a load of free babysitting for us while I go to the gym and try to be a yummy mummy, so she deserved a decent feed.

I got the idea for these from the Vegie Food cookbook (one of those short fat cookbooks you can get for about $20 in Target) – which used onion jam but since I’m allergic to onions I mixed it up a bit. The book called them Italian Summer Tarts, which you may also do.

To make 4, you need 2 thawed sheets of puff pastry, 4 tablespoons of olive tapenade (make your own, or be lazy like me and a buy a half-decent one from the deli), 8 marinated artichoke hearts, half a punnet or so of cherry tomatoes, and a few sprigs of thyme.

Preheat the oven to 220 and stick a baking tray in to preheat at the same time. Use a small bowl (or big mug?) to cut the pastry into four rounds. You could also just use one sheet of pastry cut into quarters I guess, but if you’re being fancy why not go round.

Spread each bit of pastry with one tablespoon of tapenade. Then get your tomatoes into a (separate) baking dish and do what you like with them – I just sprayed with oil and added pepper, but you could do salt or Herbamere as well, some garlic, etc. You only need about 12 for these but if you have a whole punnet, roast the lot and use the extras for something else. There’s always time for more roasted tomatoes.

Put the pastry rounds on your preheated tray and stick them plus the tomatoes into the oven at the same time. If you leave them for about 15 minutes the pastry should be nice and puffy and the tomatoes should be perfect.

Once they’ve all cooled down a bit, arrange your tomatoes, artichokes and thyme on top of the pastry. Then eat it and tell yourself how easy and delicious that was, and how nice it is that you still have room for the next two courses. Di gave them a 10/10, which was the whole point.

The best thing about them is I made these at about 3pm and just left them at room temperature until we ate them around 7.30, which worked great. I’m a big fan of preparing in advance, especially foods that don’t need to be refrigerated.

Main course was a less impressive, un-veganised variation on this recipe, and we had sticky date cupcakes and fancy vanilla gelato for dessert. But really, next time you need to give someone you love a decent feed, start with these.

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