Brie en Croute: Improv Challenge

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Brie.

Let me count the ways in which I love thee.

I love you with fruit, on a cheese patter, on bread.

Some days my love for you can go to my head.

But you are a tempting, secret holding devil

Wrapping you with puff pastry and spreading on jelly takes you to another level.

Bow. Curtsy. Applause, applause.

I thought I liked brie before, but now that I have eaten it warm and wrapped in puff pastry, my love has reached new heights.  When I saw the challenge for this month’s Improv Challenge, so I took some wonderful brie, wrapped it in puff pastry, baked it, smeared with sweet and spicy pepper jelly, and went to town.

And then I ate it all for lunch.  And it was a good day.  A very good day.

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BRIE EN CROUTE
Barely Adapted from from Cook’s Illustrated

INGREDIENTS

8 ounce wheel of Brie
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg white
1/2 cup sweet pepper jelly
Crackers, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll puff pastry sheet into a 12 inch square. Place brie in the middle and wrap around the puff pastry, making even pleats and leaving an opening on the top of the brie. Place wrapped brie in freezer for 20 minutes.

Remove brie from freezer and brush the puff pastry with egg whites. Place brie on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Spread jelly on top of brie and let cool for 10-20 minutes (if you can wait that long). Serve with crackers.

Thanks to Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for hosting the challenge!  Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month.

Spinach in Puff Pastry

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I love food around the holidays since it always involves so many desserts.  And while I will happily provide you all with lots (and lots) of sweets during this month, unfortunately we do have to eat some non-dessert food in order to be socially appropriate. Sigh.

Another great thing about the holidays in the winter season is that you get to eat a lot of rich, warm food.  Casseroles (like my homemade green bean casserole), pastry, and lots of cheese.

This spinach in puff pastry dish is another winner from Ina Garten.  I have yet to eat one of her recipes that wasn’t fabulous.  And how could this dish be bad when it has cheese and puff pastry?  I am happy with just a piece of warm puff pastry so when it’s stuffed with a cheesy spinach, spanikopita-like filling, it gets even better.  Serve this with soup or a salad and you got a great lunch or dinner.

SPINACH IN PUFF PASTRY
Slightly Adapted from Barefoot in Paris

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
20 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
6 scallions, chopped
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, for egg wash
Kosher salt, for topping

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add onion and toss. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into bowl.

Squeeze liquid out of spinach. Add to bowl with onions. Let mixture cool slightly if needed. Stir in scallions, Gruyere, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one sheet of puff pastry to approximately 12 inches by 17 inches (an additional 2 inches on each side). Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread spinach mixture evenly on top, leaving about a 1/2 inch border. Brush the border with egg wash. On a lightly floured surface, roll out second sheet of puff pastry to approximately 13 by 18 inches (an additional 3 inches of each side). Place second sheet of puff pastry on top and crimp the sides with a form. Brush the top with egg wash. With a sharp knife, cut three slits on top. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes. Cut and serve.

Serves 4 as a main dish, serves 12-14 as an appetizer.

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, and Apple Tartlets: Secret Recipe Club

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I love this time of year.  Fall is just beginning, the temperature are cooling down, and the leaves are starting to change colors (at least for you people outside of Lubbock who have actual foliage).  Texas weather will be like a Katy Perry song for the next month or so (hot and then cold, yes and then no), but this time of the year just feels magical.  One perk around this time of year in Texas are the many county fairs that pop up.

I missed Lubbock’s county fair last year, but this year I definitely plan to hit it up. State fairs are great for many reasons- one particularly is the snackage.  Deep fried wonderfulness and plenty of chances to spill powdered sugar all over yourself.  No need to sit down for a meal, just buy a bunch of snacks, walk around, people watch, go on the Ferris wheel, and have fun.

Snack power!

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Denise’s blog, Creative Kitchen Adventures.  Lots of good recipes there to choose from- take a look around.  Being a snack-fiend, I was immediately drawn to her appetizer section.  These tartlets are definitely a little bit fancier fare than county fair food, but sometimes we got to class it up around here.  And the only real way to class up my life is through bite-sized appetizers.

The combo of toppings on these tartlets is fall perfection: sweet caramelized onion, meaty mushrooms, sweet apples with a little bit of bit sugar, and lots of cheese.  Put this on top of buttery puff pastry, and you will immediately feel like you have died and gone to heave.  And you will be at peace with your premature death.

No need to wait for a party to make these (although they are great finger food), just make a bunch and call it dinner. Class.

Then wash it all down with a corn dog, some cotton candy, deep fried Oreos, and lots of powdered sugar.  Because it’s fall.

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CARAMELIZED ONION, MUSHROOM, AND APPLE TARTLETS
Adapted from Creative Kitchen Adventures

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons butter, divided
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 large apple, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 ounces Gruyere/Fontina cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped chives
2 sheets puff pastry (1 pound total)
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large skillet melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer onions to a bowl. In the same pan melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 8-12 minutes, until softened and liquid has evaporated. Add mushrooms to bowl with onion.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the same pan and add apple and sugar. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add to mushrooms and onions. Let cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in thyme, Gruyere, and chives. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Place a sheet of puff pastry on each baking sheet. Cut each sheet into 16 squares with a pizza cutter. Arrange tartlets so they are spaced apart and brush with beaten egg. Top each tarltlet with 1 tablespoon of the filling. Bake for 25-27 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through.

Makes 32 tartlets.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!