Category Archives: brie cheese

Baked Brie En Croute (Two Ways)

 

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With puff pastry and fig preserves

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Wrapped in phyllo

 

Today’s recipe is a two for one special. One classic appetizer made two ways. Each is equally yummy so make whichever one you prefer or even better make both and compare them. Its totally decadent but then again, ’tis the season!

I love brie so this is easily my all time favorite appetizer. And what isn’t to love about warm and oozing brie encased in a crispy dough crust? It really doesn’t get any better than this. I tend to use the phyllo method if I can’t find a whole wheel of brie. You can buy two wedges then place them side by side to form a rectangle. When wrapped in the sheets of phyllo they make for a pretty presentation.

Like I said, I love both the flakey phyllo wrapped brie and the doughy puff pastry wrapped one. I tend to serve the phyllo version alongside fresh fruit and the puff pastry version topped with preserves. Fig preserves are my favorite sweet take but a spicy pepper jelly is also good. Regardless of which version you make, be sure to take the time to let the wrapped wheel of brie sit in the freezer for 20 minutes before baking. This will ensure that the cheese is warm and melted without being too oozy when it comes out of the oven.

BAKED BRIE EN CROUTE

1 –  8 ounce wheel of brie, rind intact

1 –  9 x 9 1/2 inch sheet puff pastry, defrosted according to package instructions

or

6 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted according to package instructions

1/3 cup fig preserves (for puff pastry version)

3 tablespoons melted butter (for phyllo version)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

To make the puff pastry wrapped version:

  • Place the pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll to 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Using a 12 inch pie plate as a guide, trim the dough into a neat circle.
  • Transfer the circle to a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Place the wheel of brie in the center of the dough and fold the edges towards the center of the cheese, crimping the edges into pleats as you go along.

To make the phyllo wrapped version:

  • Place a sheet of phyllo dough in the center of a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with a small amount of the melted butter.
  • Repeat until all of the phyllo sheets have been used.
  • Place the wheel of brie in the center of the phyllo sheets.
  • Fold the phyllo towards the center of the wheel, trimming the edges as necessary in order to form a neat package.
  • Turn the brie over so the seam side is down.

For both versions:

  • Place the wrapped brie and baking sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • When ready to proceed, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is brown and flakey.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 20 minutes before serving.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and top the puff pastry version with the preserves.

Yields: 10 appetizer sized portions.

Pear & Brie Pizza w/ Prosciutto

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More pizza!  What’s not to love about such a simple yet complex food.  Basic pizza dough is a blank canvas just begging to be dressed with creative and flavorful toppings.  The possibilities are endless.  I love combining sweet, savory, and salty flavors and this pizza fulfills all of these requirements.  As with all cooking, make sure to select the best quality of ingredients you can find.  When you use as few as this recipe does, the flavor of each one really does matter.  And choose the ripest pears possible since their sweetness contrasts so nicely with the saltiness of the prosciutto.

For the pizza dough:

1 Teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)

1 Teaspoon honey

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Teaspoon Kosher salt

4 Teaspoons olive oil

  • Dissolve the yeast in the water.  Stir in the honey and let stand until the liquid begins to bubble, 3-5 minutes; stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • Pulse the flour, salt, and remaining olive oil in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  With the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture and process until the dough forms a ball around the blade.
  • Remove the dough from the processor and knead on a lightly floured surface, adding more flour as necessary, until smooth and elastic, 1-2 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough stretches gently when pulled, 30-60 minutes.
  • Punch dough down and divide into four pieces; shape into balls and roll in your hands until smooth, about one minute.
  • Arrange dough balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap coated with non-stick spray, and let rise for 30-60 minutes more.
  • Press each dough ball out on a lightly floured surface.  Turn dough, pressing on its center, then roll each into a 7 to 8 inch circle.  Transfer the rounds onto a pizza peel generously dusted with cornmeal; brush each with 1 teaspoon olive oil, then add toppings.

Pizza toppings:

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 ounces prosciutto, diced

4 ounces brie cheese, cut into bite sized pieces

1 ripe pear, cored and sliced into thin wedges

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet and heat over medium high heat.
  • Add the prosciutto and saute until crisp, 5-7 minutes.
  • Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

To Assemble the Pizzas:

  • Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil onto the top of each pizza.
  • Evenly divide the brie cheese and pear slices over the top of each pizza.  Add the prosciutto.
  • Sprinkle the salt and oregano over the top of each pizza.
  • Place the pizzas directly onto the pre-heated pizza stone (you may need to do this in batches if you are cooking several pizzas).  In order to keep the grill hot,  shut the grill lid during the baking process.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is crispy and brown and the toppings are hot.  The amount of baking time may vary depending upon the temperature of your grill so watch the pizzas carefully so they don’t burn.
  • Carefully remove the pizzas from the grill and allow to sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

Makes:  4 individual sized pizzas

Caramelized Onion, Brie & Prosciutto Pizza

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Pizza is a pie and today is national Pi Day so here’s a tribute to everyone’s favorite pie.

Everyone loves pizza, right?  While my family loves traditional pizzas smothered in tomato sauce, cheese, and meat, my preference leans more towards the pizzas you find at California Pizza Kitchen.  I’ll take a pizza with no sauce, rich roasted vegetables, and non-traditional pizza cheeses any day.  Here in Albania the former is what you find in very restaurant in the country.  I’ll eat them, but I won’t love them.

My solution is to make my own at home.  Rather than make one large pizza for the entire family, I make individual sized pizzas which allow each of us to add the toppings we prefer.  We even turn pizza making into an activity that the entire family can participate in.  The dough recipe is from Cuisine At Home.  It is easy and makes enough for four individual sized pizzas.  If you don’t want to make four pizzas you can cover the left over dough tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.

I found inspiration for the topping by what I had on hand in the refrigerator.  My pizza included a layer of thinly sliced brie cheese (freeze briefly to make slicing easier), caramelized red onion, and crisp prosciutto and  I added fresh avocado and a bit of fresh chopped rosemary for color and flavor.  You could easily add a tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni–which is what I did for my boys— or go entirely vegetable with peppers, mushrooms and onions.  Think of the crust as an empty palate and let your imagination go wild.

CARAMELIZED ONION, BRIE & PROSCIUTTO PIZZA

For the Dough:

1 Teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)

1 Teaspoon honey

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 Teaspoon Kosher salt

4 Teaspoons olive oil

  • Dissolve the yeast in the water.  Stir in the honey and let stand until the liquid begins to bubble, 3-5 minutes; stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • Pulse the flour, salt, and remaining olive oil in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  With the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture and process until the dough forms a ball around the blade.
  • Remove the dough from the processor and knead on a lightly floured surface, adding more flour as necessary, until smooth and elastic, 1-2 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough stretches gently when pulled, 30-60 minutes. 
  • Punch dough down and divide into four pieces; shape into balls and roll in your hands until smooth, about one minute.
  • Arrange dough balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap coated with non-stick spray, and let rise for 30-60 minutes more.
  • Press each dough ball out on a lightly floured surface.  Turn dough, pressing on its center, then roll each into a 7 to 8 inch circle.  Transfer the rounds onto a pizza peel generously dusted with cornmeal; brush each with 1 teaspoon olive oil, then add toppings.

Toppings:

3 ounces diced prosciutto

2 cups thinly sliced red onion

1/4 cup brie cheese, thinly sliced

1/2 ripe avocado, diced

2 Teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the bottom rack.
  • Cook prosciutto in a saute pa until crisp; transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and reserve drippings.
  • Saute onions in drippings over medium heat.
  • Add 3-4 Tablespoons water at a time as needed, to keep onion from scorching.  Saute onion until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  • Divide and spread the brie evenly amongst the prepared dough circles.  
  • Divide onion, prosciutto, avocado and rosemary among the pizzas.
  • Carefully transfer the pizzas to hot pizza stone.  Bake pizzas until crust is browned, about ten minutes.
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