Sunday, December 17, 2006

Holiday Brie En Croute

With Mushrooms, Rosemary, Marjoram, Thyme and Port

It wouldn't feel like the holidays at our house if I didn't make this practically foolproof appetizer at least once. Take it to a party, set it down among the other offerings, stand back, watch and listen.

People ask, "What's this?", while simultaneously popping a piece into their mouths. Then the eyes roll followed by gutteral sounds of pure pleasure that punctuate the air, making heads turn.

Such is the appeal of a round of brie that has been stuffed with a melange of mushrooms, onion, herbs, garlic and port, wrapped in puff pastry and served hot from the oven. Crackers optional.

This is the first of what I hope will be three items that I'll be submitting to my blogger buddy Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen for her special version of Weekend Herb Blogging, Holiday Cooking with Herbs. The other two waiting in the wings are my mother's Braided Raisin Bread and my own Persimmon Flan. I can't wait to see the round-up on December 23rd, as the food bloggers who regularly submit entries for WHB are such wonderful, creative cooks.

I made these last night for a special ornament party that our neighbors host every year. Always a much looked forward to party, the food and the friends keep getting better and dearer.

Mushroom Stuffed Baked Brie
adapted from a very old Sunset Magazine recipe

2 8-ounce rounds of Brie (I've used one 16-ounce round and several 10-ounce rounds)
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
flour for the pastry
1 egg, beaten, for the pastry
1 pound of mushrooms, finely chopped (these can be all button or a mixture of several wild mushrooms such as chanterelles, shiitake, oyster and crimini)
1 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
2 teaspoons each dried marjoram and dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
Pinch kosher salt
Several grinds Tellicherry pepper
1/4 cup ruby Port
1 tablespoon butter for the pan

Keep your rounds of Brie in the fridge until the last minute. You want them very cold.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, add the onions and saute until just softened.
Add the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and saute just a few more minutes.
Add the mushrooms, raising the heat to medium high, and saute until the liquid that is released from them has evaporated and the mushrooms are gently browned.
Add the Port and cook until the liquid has been absorbed.
Set the pan aside, off the heat, and cool to room temperature.

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
When the stuffing has cooled, using a sharp knife cut each Brie round in half horizontally, laying the rounds cut side up.
Using a floured pastry cloth, roll out a sheet of the puff pastry to about 15x15 inches, then trim to a 12-inch diameter circle saving the pastry scraps for making leaves and berries to decorate the pastry packet. If you are making a larger Brie, trim your circle accordingly. There should be enough pastry to entirely enfold your stuffed Brie.
Place a piece of foil bigger than the brie packet on a cookie sheet.
Place the pastry round on the foil.

Place a round of Brie cut side up in the center of the pastry circle and spread with 1/4 of the mushroom filling, smoothing it out to the edges.
Place the other half of the Brie round on top of the filling, cut side down, and spread with another 1/4 of the filling.
Brush the edges of the pastry circle with some egg wash.

Begin to enfold the Brie by bringing an edge of the pastry up and over the Brie and mushrooms. The pastry should reach to the middle of the top of the Brie.
Brush the top of that pastry with more egg wash and repeat with the rest of the pastry, folding in the pleats of dough that are made as you go around.
You want to egg brush each part of the pastry that will be covered by more pastry, creating a seal. Cut the pastry if needed so you don't end up with too much on top.
Using the leftover scraps of pastry, cut out leaf shapes, stars, whatever you like and make a few "berries" by rolling the pastry into little balls.
Brush the top of the pastry packet with egg wash and lay the leaves and berries on the top, effectively covering up the pastry folds.

When finished decorating, brush a final egg wash over the entire top and sides of the Brie packet, taking care to not let egg drip under the packet which can cause it to stick to the foil while baking. I know this from experience.
Place the tray in the freezer and freeze the Brie packet, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Place the frozen Brie, or Bries, in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the pastry has turned a golden brown and the cheese and filling begins to ooze out from the pastry. (I've never known this NOT to happen, so I I just play along like it's all part of the charm. Last night both of my Brie packets oozed filling like a dam had broken, as you can see from the photos.)
Lastly, take your lovelies out of the oven and, using a very wide spatula such as my fish turner (which worked perfectly, by the way, making it a truly multi-tasking tool), remove them to the plate or platter on which you will serve them.
Surround them with crackers if you wish and decorate the plate festively with sprigs of non-toxic greens and red berries. Or not.

Then get on that fabulous black dress with the slit to mid-thigh and the cleavage down to, well, you know, throw on your mother's rhinestones and your kicky black sandal heels and head out to the party.


  1. A work of art, a labor of love. A wonderful family tradition. Love the pastry design.

  2. Christine!!!!!! THAT IS SERIOUSLY FABULOUS!!!! But, you are actually going to share that with others? I would be like the Little Red Hen and refuse to share. :):):) That's my idea of perfection.

  3. That looks superb Christine.

  4. Love this stuff! I saw it on Emeril a while back and have made it several times, with walnuts and brown sugar and also with cranberries.

    I'll have to try it your way, Christine.

  5. oh-my-gosh!That is perfect! You "out-did" yourself-once again!

  6. Thanks Tanna.

    Thanks Sher but it's already shared and gone. I think I got all of 2 bites. There's more brie and pastry in the fridge though!

    Anne, Mimi and Jann,
    Thanks so much!

  7. Christine - that is beautiful! Very indulgent!

  8. I agree with the others, this looks just fantastic. I love everything in it, so I know I would love it. The way you styled the pastry is gorgeous.

  9. This recipe sounds great - really festive with lots of herbs inside.

    The ultimate in comfort food!

  10. I love brie--cold, heated, with fruit or without, it's all good. This definitely takes it up a notch or too!

  11. Thanks so much Catherine & Kalyn!

    Scott, Thanks for your comment and for stopping by.

    David, Thanks! Like your blog and think your Leftovers Tuesdays sound like a fun event.

  12. Scott,
    Just visited your blog and I love it! I'll be visiting yours and David's often.

  13. Oh my, does this look yummy!

    Merry Christmas!

  14. Those are just out of this world! I must try that. Absolutely amazing. And -- Ak-Mak! I love Ak-Mak!

  15. Katie, Sorry I missed that you had left a comment. I know from your posts that your Christmas was a great one. Happy New Year!

    Thanks so much. I also love Ak-Mak - it's so whole wheat-y delicious and light!


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