29 December 2008
I have been fascinated with brie ever since watching the movie "Waitress." in one of Jenna's inventive pies she paired brie, smoked ham and egg custard in a recipe for "Bad Baby Pie." Determined to use it in a pie of my own, I paired brie with mushrooms and thyme in a recipe for "It's All About Attitude" Mushroom and Brie Quiche. I even made a passable pie crust myself. It was a fantastic pie!
Since then I have bought a lot of brie. My daughter discovered that she loves it. I discovered that my husband does not. Myself, I could take it or leave it though I do think it makes an interesting ingredient.
My favorite brand for a multi-purpose brie is President. It holds its shape, is neither strong nor runny and is predictably pretty to look at. I often buy a wheel of brie if I am entertaining and buy the wedges for my daughter when she is home. So when I was contacted, after commenting on Robin Sue's post at Big Red Kitchen, and offered a sample of President's new brie log, I was glad to accept. I knew my daughter would be glad to be a taste tester and that I would enjoy pairing some flavors.
The brie log itself was rather pretty. The rind goes all the way around which adds to the aesthetics of the log but gives it a bit less of the smooth buttery texture that a cheese with more center might offer. Still it tasted good and made a great appetizer. The log is perfectly sized for cutting off 1/4 inch pieces and centering them on a cracker, then dressing them up with a bite of roast meat or fish or a bit of fresh fruit or colorful jam.
Not only has Robin Sue posted about this new brie product, but Veronica at Supermarket Serenade and Grace at A Southern Grace have also posted about the brie log and used it in a variety of interesting and festive ways.
I hoped to do something a little bit different with mine, but I wasn't sure what to try. My mind rested on a Christmas gift basket from Newburgh Country Store that included a jar of Hot Jalapeno Jelly and some honey as well as a box of delectable pears from Harry and David. I also had a pie crust and a variety of nuts in the refrigerator that I wasn’t using for anything in particular. I began to imagine pairing them in different ways and then got started making some snacks to share with my family.
I remembered a recent post at Dine and Dish where Kristen shared a recipe for Pie Crust Cookies. I didn’t want cookies really but I did want a sort of crisp and slightly sweet base for my first idea. So I followed Kristen's directions with my pie crust except that I cut the pastry into juice-glass-sized rounds instead of cookie cutter shapes. I placed the rounds on a baking sheet, pricked each twice with a fork and then sprinkled them with just a bit of sugar before baking them at 400 degrees until they were golden brown.
Then I toasted some nuts and when the pie crust circles cooled I assembled my brie appetizers. I topped the pastry rounds with a slice of the brie log and a small slice of pear. Then I drizzled each with a few drops of honey and sprinkled the top with chopped toasted hazelnuts.
Sweet and buttery this was a lovely appetizer. With a glass of champagne this would be a very appealing bite for a New Years Eve hors d'œuvres tray.
Next I took out some prepackaged water crackers and the jalapeno jelly. I topped each cracker with a slice of the brie log and a small spoonful of jalapeno jelly before sprinkling toasted pecans on top. Sweet and spicy with a crisp crunch the taste these hors d'œuvres was interesting, unexpected and delicious.
Both of these combinations got good reviews from all of my tasters. I’m sure there are many more variations you might try. What I found was that the brie log is versatile, pretty and practical. It can be sliced quickly and quite easily made into fabulous little party snacks that anyone would love. Pair it with whatever fruits or spread you have on hand and chances are you will have a crowd pleaser.