“He gives large parties. And I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy." — Socialite Jordan Baker, The Great Gatsby
It was on this date in 1925 that F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby was released. Now considered his Magnum Opus, it was not so well received upon publication with mixed reviews and sales of only 20,000 copies the first year.
Fitzgerald suffered from numerous personal issues, too many to go into here, and died depressed in 1940 with the feeling that he was a failure and his work forgotten.
It was not until after WWll that the novel began to be assigned in American high school curriculum. Today, The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be a literary classic and a contender for the title “The Great American Novel”.
Jay Gatsby was best known for his parties. Lavish affairs where Manhattan’s young, beautiful, and decadent descended upon his fictional West Egg Long Island estate. He liked to separate himself from the shenanigans, perhaps viewing the goings on from a shadowy balcony. It only added to his mamoth myth-making.
Throughout the novel, as well as stage and film interpretations, scads of cocktails are shaken, highballs stirred, champagne popped, and beer quaffed. Yet there is very little description of food.
For one swell-elegant evening, Fitzgerald notes:
"On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d'oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold."
It’s the “pastry pigs” that caught my eye, as I have always imagined nothing else consumed but tablespoons of caviar eaten directly out of the tin, and a hasty schmear of pâté being washed down with The Widow’s champagne.
I was curious about the term “pastry pigs”, as I have always known them as “pigs in a blanket”.
Doing a bit of research, I found that “pastry pigs” connote a European etymology, and are enveloped with delicately puffed pastry. (In German, this is known as Würstchen im Schlafrock ("Sausage in a Dressing Gown").
“Pigs in a Blanket”, the American interpretation, employed a biscuit dough or pie crust wrapping. Delicious, of course, but certainly not as refined.
Who knew there was a hierarchy on this humble hors d’oeuvre!?
So this evening, in honor of one of the United States’s iconic writers, why not prepare a simple batch of Pastry Pigs, served with a dab of good German mustard (aka Senf), and serve with a chilled bottle of the bubbly?
Prep: 40 minutes, Bake: 15 minutes, Serves: 14
1 package (17.3 ounces) Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
14 ounces Eckrich® Li’l Smokies Cocktail Smoked Sausage
1 8 ounce jar of good German Mustard (Sern)
Set the pastry sheets out to thaw. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the egg in a small bowl with a fork.
Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 10x14-inch rectangle. Trim a bit off the edges to make sure they're straight. Cut the rectangle into 7 (2x10-inch) strips. Stack the strips on top of each other, making sure to match up the edges.
With the long side facing you, cut off and discard about 1-inch from the left and right ends of the stack on the diagonal (make sure both cuts are slanted in the same direction). Then, cut the stack crosswise, using the same diagonal cuts, into 3 (about 3-inch long) sections (yielding 21 pieces of pastry). Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet, making 42 pieces in all.
Place 1 piece of pastry on the work surface, with a pointed end facing you. Place 1 sausage crosswise across the center of the pastry. Brush the pointed end farthest from you with the egg. Starting at the end closest to you, roll the pastry around the sausage and press to seal. Repeat with the remaining sausages and pastry. Place the wrapped sausages onto the baking sheets. Brush with the remaining egg.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Serve with German Mustard