It is a little unsettling to write this column for the holidays, as I must think ahead when I know I am not emotionally ready for the holidays. That always begins after Thanksgiving. My benchmark is Halloween, when I begin thinking of Thanksgiving. The way merchandising is going these days, I fear Halloween will soon become a holiday. That will really put me into a tailspin.
No matter what the health gurus advise about good eating habits regarding cholesterol, fats, and all other nasty, delicious foods, party time takes precedent. My philosophy is to enjoy eating, not feeding, and partake the joys of the holidays with food and friends (wine too!). Unless one has a serious diagnosed health condition, just don’t overdo and overeat. Taste, eat slowly, savor what you decide tantalizes you at the moment, and moderation and good sense will keep you healthy.
Without a doubt; one indispensable party food is cheese. There is no end to the delightful spectrum of cheeses that are available. A variety of cheeses flown in from all over the world are available at specialty markets. Fresh cheese made in their locale cannot be beaten. Nonetheless, today we have the privilege of cheese grazing for our enjoyment. Cholesterol and calories will step aside in favor of our moderation of intake.
A favorite among most of us is creamy, flavorful French Brie. It is often called “cheese of kings”, because so many French monarchs have rated it their favorite. It is best creamy-soft, almost runny. That is how it is served in France. It is imitated, but true Brie is made only in France. Brie en Croute is easy, and little different way to enjoy that celebrated cheese.
BRIE EN CROUTE
1 lb wedge Brie cheese
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 of a 17 1/4 oz package frozen
puff pastry, thawed
Cut brie wedge in half, horizontally if you use blue cheese. Sprinkle bottom half with blue cheese and pecans; replace top. Roll pastry on lightly floured surface till it is large enough to enclose Brie. Place pastry in a lightly greased shallow baking pan; place brie in center. Combine egg and one tablespoonful of water. Fold pastry over brie, sealing seams with egg mixture. Trim pastry so that it is no more than 2 layers thick in any spot; reserve scraps. Brush pastry with egg mixture. Cut scraps into flower shapes; arrange on top. Brush with egg mixture. Cover; chill 2 hours. Uncover and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes till golden. Serve with fruit or wine. Serves 8.
Eat & Be Merry!