Archive for entertaining

Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Brie wrapped in puff pastry with pecans, brown sugar and cranberries and baked until the cheese is gooey! The perfect appetizer for your holiday gathering!

Serves 6-8

 Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 wheel brie cheese ( about 7-8 inches round)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water
  • crackers or fruit for serving

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Place puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place brie in the middle of the pastry sheet and top with brown sugar, nuts and cranberries.

Wrap pastry sheet around brie, trimming off any excess,  if needed.  (Reserve excess pieces for decoration).

Optional: cutout  decorations from remaining pastry using a knife or pizza cutter and arrange on top. Get creative!

Brush top and sides of pastry sheet with egg and bake 20-25  minutes or until golden brown. Let stand about 20 minutes to allow cheese to set. Serve with crackers or sliced fruit such as apples or pears.

 

 

 

 

Party Sangria

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Sangria is perfect for summer parties and barbecues. Here is a recipe that will please all your guests so make a few batches as it will go quickly!  Sangria is best chilled overnight to let all the flavors blend together.

  • If using berries such as strawberries, raspberries or blackberries, add these fruits when you add the club soda before serving as the fruits will become soggy if left overnight.
  • If  you’re not a fan of club soda, you can substitute with ginger ale.
  • You can  substitute with prosecco instead of wine.
  • If you are using sweet or dessert wine, omit the sugar in the recipe ( unless you really like it sweet!)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle red or white wine
  • 1/4 cup  sugar
  • 1/3 cup Brandy
  • 1/3 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • Fruits desired such as: lemon, lime,  peach, pear, apple, pineapple, etc
  • 1 cup club soda ( or more as desired)
  • Mint for garnish (optional)

Directions:

In a pitcher, combine all ingredients except for club soda and mint.

Chill in the refrigerator for few hours or overnight.

Before serving, add club soda and mix well. Garnish with mint,  if desired.

 

Comments (2)

Hosting a Wine and Cheese Party

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Wine and cheese are two great pairings in life. But with so many options, where do you start? As with food pairing, there are no “rules”. It really comes down to personal preference and matching wine and cheese to enhance the flavor/taste, not overpower the other.

Does the cheese enhance the taste of the wine? Does the wine enhance the taste of the cheese? If you agree, it’s a good pairing and if you don’t, try a different pairing!

If you are planning a wine and cheese party, it’s best to provide a variety of  cheeses with different textures for comparison:

–          Fresh /milder cheese (Mozzarella, Havarti)

–          Soft cheese (Brie,  Camembert)

–          Semi hard cheese (Gouda, Gruyère)

–          Hard / stronger cheese (Aged Gouda, Manchego)

 

The same with wine. Have a variety to taste and compare and provide wines some may not have tried:

–          Sparkling (Prosecco, Cava )

–          White (Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino)

–          Red  (Tempranillo, Zinfandel)

–          Sweet (Riesling, Sauternes)

 

Though there are no rules, below are some approaches to pairing:

  • Pairing wine & cheese from the same region is a good, “safe” start (Spanish Tempranillo with Manchego cheese)
  • Identify dominate flavors of cheese & seek wines that share similar flavor profiles ( acid with acid)
  • Identify dominate flavors of cheese & seek wines that share opposite flavor profiles ( salt with sweet)
  • Determine wine list first & cheese will be dependent upon type of wine chosen

 

Once you determine your approach, below are some guidelines or suggestions:

 

Match Textures and/or Flavors

  • Goat cheese ( acidity)  pairs well with light acidic wines such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Brie (creamy/buttery)  pairs well with a buttery wine such as  Chardonnay

Pair White Wines with Light Cheeses

  • Fresh / semi soft cheeses are lighter, has milder flavor and less salt which pairs well with  delicate white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

(If you prefer red wine with lighter cheese, Pinot Noir pairs well as it’s the lightest of the reds)

 

Pair Red Wines with Stronger Cheeses

  • Intense red wines such as  Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon can handle stronger types of cheeses, such as aged gouda
  • Spicy wines such as Zinfandel with smoked cheddar

(Exception: young red wines with high tannins are better with buttery/creamy cheese for balance)

 

Champagne /Sparkling Wine  with Blue, Creamy and Salty Cheeses

  • Yeasty, toasty qualities of sparkling wines balances with blue cheese
  • Rich and creamy cheese contrasts with the bubbles
  • Bubbles help diffuse salt in stronger cheeses (salt and sweet combo)

 

Hosting a party can be expensive so if you are planning your wine and cheese pairings ahead, assign each guest a bottle of wine or cheese pairing. I’m sure your guests will be happy to contribute for a fun evening with great friends!
Cheers!!