Puff pastry consists of hundreds of paper-thin layers of dough and butter. In the heat of the oven, these layers puff to impressive heights, becoming crispy and golden.
Making puff pastry from scratch isn't terribly hard, but it does require a significant time commitment. Frozen puff pastry from the store is a convenient alternative and arguably just as good. Look for puff pastry made with all butter; these will be the tastiest. I love Trader Joe's brand, but Pepperidge Farm will do in a pinch (though the latter does contain some shortening).
Once thawed, a square of puff pastry presents a lot of possibilities. You can cut it into strips to make cheese straws, make cups to later fill with an hors d'oeuvres, top it to make a quick tart, or fold squares of it to make turnovers. You can go sweet or savory, warm or cold. Puff pastry is endlessly accommodating.
Here are a few ideas to inspire your next dinner party:
• How to Work with Frozen Puff Pastry
• How to Braid Puff Pastry
• Puff Pastry Cheese Straws
• Pistachio and Chive Goat Cheese on Puff Wafers
• Three Cheese Tomato Tart
• Melt in Your Mouth: 5 Nibbles with Puff Pastry
• Petite Palmiers
What's your favorite recipe to make with puff pastry?