Creamy Baked Brie with Red Pear

Nothing warms the holiday appetizer table like rich and creamy, ooey-gooey baked brie. A  classic staple in its own right, the first slice through this flakey crust and into the soft cheese is superbly satisfying. Topped with a little bit of cracked sea salt and sweet red pears, this dish is perfectly paired with a crisp white wine or bit of bubbly champagne.

Baked Brie with Pears

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe red pear
  • 1 7-8 oz. brie wheel
  • 1 orange
  • 1 package frozen fillo dough
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • sea salt

1. Core and slice pear. Place into a small bowl, and squeeze the juice of the orange over slices. Cover with water and set aside.

 

2. Make egg wash by whisking 1 Tbs. water with the egg until frothy. Set aside.

3. Coat a baking sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Lay one sheet of fillo dough onto the pan. Brush with egg wash, and layer with another sheet of dough. Repeat this process for 8-10 layers of fillo dough.

4. Lay brie wheel in the center of the dough. Wrap dough around the brie, and flip over so that all dough seams are on the bottom of the cheese. Brush all over with egg wash.

5. Arrange pear slices on top of brie, and sprinkle with sea salt.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with crackers, crostini, or fruit and veggie slices.

White Wine Mussels

Check out the menu at any restaurant featuring ‘modern American’ cuisine, and you are guaranteed to see a version of mussels in sauce with crostini points. ‘Amen!’ to that because it is one of my absolute favorite dishes to order. I’ll order a whole one for myself as my dinner, just to be able to crack open each mussel and extract each delicate morsel, spoon it on to a crostini and top it with the salty sauce and accoutrements. I’ve been known at times (OK, every time) to sop up any remaining broth with extra bread, or even by the spoonful. My obsession and adoration for mussels in wine sauce led me on a quest to create my own rendition, and share it with anyone who also can be caught from time to time sipping the last of the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen mussels in shell, rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 oz. pepperoni or hard salami, thick sliced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1.5 c. white wine
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • ¼ c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ lemon, for juice
  • 1 crusty baguette, sliced into ½ inch pieces on a diagonal

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.

2. Heat olive oil over in a large Dutch oven or pot, medium heat. Once oil is hot, cook garlic and onion until translucent.

3. Add salami and simmer until browned, about 5 minutes.

 

4. Deglaze pan with white wine and be sure to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

5. Add mussels, canned tomatoes and salt.  Stir thoroughly. Squeeze lemon juice into the pot and add white wine. Bring to a simmer and cover.

6. Turn heat to medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes until all shells have opened. Remove mussels from broth with a slotted spoon. Place into a bowl, cover, and set aside until the sauce is finished reducing.

7. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook uncovered for another 15-20 minutes or until liquid is reduced by about half. Remove from heat, and reincorporate the mussels.

8. Serve mussels with wine sauce in a large bowl, or straight from the pot with the toasted baguette slices for dipping.

Caprese Salad Skewers w/Balsamic Reduction

People LOVE these little salad-on-a-stick skewers. They are really simple to assemble, and are a sure hit at any party. Bonus: the balsamic reduction makes a great glaze for pork OR as salad dressing!

Ingredients:

  • 1 container Grape Tomatoes pint
  • 1 8 oz package fresh buffalo mozzarella
  • 10-12 basil leaves
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 package 6″ bamboo skewers

Method:

Balsamic Reduction – In a small sauce pan, place balsamic vinegar over medium heat, stirring frequently, until vinegar thickens and becomes syrupy. It’s done when you draw a line with a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan, and the balsamic syrup holds its shape. Set aside to cool. You may need to reheat and add more balsamic if syrup becomes too thick.

Method:

Caprese Skewers – Slice mozzarella into bite sized cubes. Assemble skewers with in a tomato-mozzerella-basil-tomato pattern. Repeat as desired.

With a small spoon, drizzle balsamic reduction over skewers.