Tick Tick Tick Tick… Counting down to Christmas and Year End…..
Time has accelerated, don’t you think? It always does, this time of year. There’s an energy, positively frenetic, that builds on itself, days spinning out ad delirium as we dart and dash about wrapping up loose ends, wrapping up presents,
wrapping up brie.
What, No Brie Wrapping, you say? And, why not?
It’s so very festive, and much more fun than trying to fit shiny paper in tidy corners around a big box, and tape without tearing, and not misplace the scissors under the mounds of wadded gift wrap, tissue paper, bows, ribbons, and the odd pieces of plastic holly that surround you on the floor. Promise.
Step away from all the trappings of gift wrapping. Consider stashing that book/scarf/bracelet/salad bowl/teddy bear into a shiny bag and mosey on into the kitchen.
Simple elements are involved: a round of brie, a package of puff pastry, some chutney. Any chutney will do, really.
My Of-The-Moment one is Apricot-Cranberry.
Oh, and a sharp knife, and a little confidence in your creativity. You can do this. Free-form works. Abstract works. Childlike wonder works.
(In the days when we were both impoverished hippie artists doing bits of catering-for-cash , my friend Teresa, now a food stylist, and I, now a recovered caterer, decided that bad fine art often made respectable food art. There’s a world of possibilities…)
Meanwhile, here’s a presentation that everyone will tear into—oh melty cheese and chutney—you’ll find yourself surrounded by love and gratitude. And no rumpled gift wrap.
Cut the brie across the center
Spread a generous layer of chutney onto the brie
The big brie burger…..
Cutting the corners at an angle will give you pieces to wrap around the middle. The main idea is to secure the brie in the pastry, giving yourself a nice canvas for your design. I made a wreath, but you could make a sunburst, snowflakes, trees, ornaments, leaves, anything you fancy. Work with pastry that is cold; it cuts better. As it warms, it stretches more readily, and can be twisted, or rolled into balls. You can move the pastry in and out of the refrigerator as you work. It is very forgiving.
Piercing the contours of all your shapes will add dimension while keeping the brie from exploding (!)
Chutney-stuffed Brie in Puff Pastry
1 Box Puff Pastry
cracked black pepper
your favorite chutney (recipe below)
1 round of Brie
cookie/baking sheet pan
Allow puff pastry to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Split brie in half and spread one side with chutney. Close up like a sandwich. Place, centered, onto a sheet of puff pastry and sprinkle with pepper. Cut a square of puff pastry and place on top.
Cut the corners of the bottom piece at a diagonal, and wrap around the sides of the brie. Seal edges by gently pinching the dough together. If it won’t stick, moist with a little water.
Flip the brie over so that the bottom is now the top.
Decorate, by cutting or carving shapes with a paring knife and place on the brie.
When your design is set, gently pierce around the shapes with the tip of your knife. This enhances the design AND prevents the brie from popping and oozing when it bakes and puffs up.
You can wrap and decorate your brie ahead of time–a day or so before serving (I have even frozen them at this point.) Cover in plastic wrap.
Ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes, until pastry is puffed up and golden brown.
Remove and cool slightly. You can dust the top of the pastry with a little paprika or chives. Place on serving tray, decorate with fresh fruits. Enjoy with wine.
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons peeled fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup water
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the garlic and ginger together, stirring over moderate heat for about two minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Turn the heat to low and allow the mixture to cook for another 15-20 minutes as the dried fruits absorb the liquid and thicken. Stir occasionally. Allow to cool to room temperature. Makes 1 ½ cups.