Every Wednesday, for the last couple of years, I've been a part of a City Group at my church. One of the main components of that is a gathering of friends at my house for dinner nearly every week. I have never claimed to be a great cook, but over the last couple of years I've been building up a stash of recipes that I like to call "Yummy Things That Unfairly Make Me Look Like a Culinary Genius". These recipes are incredibly easy, fairly quick, and super delicious. Best of all, the resulting dish gets gobbled up and raved about like you wouldn't believe. I thought that I'd start sharing some of these with you, starting with Honey Baked Brie, which you can do a number of ways, depending on what you have on hand or what's in season or on sale:
- A whole wheel of brie (or Camembert, they're practically the same)
- Blackberries (or raspberries or a combo of both, but any fruit jam-- like apricot-- would do quite well, too)
- 2 Tbs. fresh, chopped Tarragon (but fresh, chopped basil will work in a pinch)
- Salt & Pepper (for best results, use sea salt and corse ground pepper)
- Almond slivers (optional)
- Crackers (I recommend Triscuits since they're thick and tough) or a sliced, small crusty bread, like a French baguette (oh la la!)
- Granny Smith Apple wedges (I used three to serve four people)
- Preheat your oven or grill to 350º.
- After removing the brie from the package, using a knife, cut off the top rind from the cheese wheel. Make sure to leave the sides intact. This will prevent mega oozing while baking.
- Salt and pepper the surface of the now topless brie and place the wheel in a circular cake pan, lined with parchment paper. Don't have parchment paper? No problem. I ran out and had to use foil, and everything turned out okay.
- Give the seasoned top a generous spread of honey. No need to use a knife. I just squirted it directly on the cheese wheel in a long, tight zigzag pattern.
- Top with tarragon and the fruit and (optional) nuts of your choice.
- If you're serving your brie with apple slices, core and wedge the apples. Place the slices around the brie. I like my baked apple wedges salted. If you're like me, sprinkle some salt on 'em.
- Place the pan in the center of the oven or on the grill for exactly 12 minutes.
- Plate, serve and die happy.
Where I grew up, people didn't eat brie. We weren't fancy like that (we ate American cheese slices, Cheese Wiz, Easy Cheese from a can, and Velveeta). In fact, I was way dubious the first time I ever encountered brie (in college!). "What do you mean I'm supposed to eat the outside and the outside is mold?!" Nonetheless, I soon became a convert despite my little lactose intolerance issues.
However, baked brie is a whole new level of awesome. I don't know how many times I've been to an event or ladies' night and there's a wedge of room temperature brie sitting out for us to enjoy. Not bad, especially if it's nice brie, but I promise that if you have a few minutes to spare, popping your brie in the oven will make you go from a ho-hum hostess to mini-Martha Stewart.