Shea asked me to do a guest post I had to gulp twice because I’d never done one and in a matter of 2 days I was asked by two really good blogger friends. What to do? I admitted my inexperience and Shea explained how easy it was. It’s one thing to write on your own blog whatever comes into your head but writing for someone else puts pressure on. Nobody wants to look like a goombah on someone else’s blog.
I relaxed, took a deep breath and headed for the kitchen where I was watched from above by the food patrol also known as Tallulah. How she gets up there is a mystery. We’ve never seen her do it and it’s a huge jump to the floor when she comes down. She sits up there across the room watching the entire cooking process.
I love mixing savory and sweet for appetizers and one of my favorites is baked brie in phyllo dough with caramelized balsamic onions and cashews. I get the creaminess of the brie, the sweetness and the tartness of the onions and the crunch of the cashews all doing a dance in my mouth.
As with all dishes with baked phyllo, there IS the mess factor but when you see how good it tastes, you’ll forgive me for the crumbs. We begin with making the caramelized onions. You CAN buy these from the supermarket but making them yourself allows you to determine how sweet or sour you like them. Slice the onions and s l o w l y sauté them until they are translucent and they begin to take on color. This takes a long time so be patient. Do your nails, clip the dog, watch Anthony Bourdain on TV but don’t leave the house because you need to stir these onions and keep adding just a bit of water. You don’t want them to dry out.
Then add a tablespoon or two of nice balsamic vinegar – don’t use the cheap stuff because if you do you’ll be disappointed. I’d rather have you leave it out completely than regret making this appetizer because it doesn’t taste right. Add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar and a little bit of water and cook until the onions are completely soft, dark brown and delicious.
Once the onions are cool, melt the butter and begin to assemble the parcel. There were only two of us and we had dinner coming soon so I only cooked a wedge of brie. If I was making this for company I would have used the whole wheel.
Open the phyllo dough and working quickly place one thin sheet on your work surface and brush it with melted butter. Place another sheet on top and butter that and then do a third, fourth and fifth sheet.
Now you’re ready to assemble.
Place the brie down, place the onions on top or next to the cheese and then toss in the cashews. Wrap the parcel like a gift, tucking the ends under it. Brush the top and bottom with butter so it will brown nicely. Place it in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with your favorite crackers. I love a glass of champagne with it.
I read on someone’s blog the other day that brie was out of fashion – not at our house. If you love brie like we do, you can use lots of different toppings — mango chutney goes really well in a parcel with brie. Another favorite of mine is to toast some walnuts in a skillet and stir in some Kahlua and brown sugar to coat them and place them on top of the brie in the parcel. Let your imagination go wild. Your guests will love every variation.
Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions and Cashews
5 sheets phyllo dough brie cheese – 1 wheel
2 large onions – sliced thinly
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs brown sugar handful of cashews
½ cup butter – melted
Sauté onions over low heat until they begin to get some color and then add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to your taste. Continue to cook until onions are very soft and dark. (This takes a long time and you might need to add some water so they don’t dry out.)
Let the onions cool.
Place one sheet of phyllo dough on your work surface and brush lightly with melted butter. Place second sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first and brush lightly with butter. Do the same thing with the remaining 3 sheets of dough.
Place the brie on the center of the dough and top with the caramelized onions and cashews.
Trim the phyllo dough so there is enough to wrap around the cheese but not so much that there’s a wad of phyllo dough under the cheese. Think gift wrapping. Place the ends under the cheese and you’ll have a pretty package. Place on a baking sheet with baking paper and brush top and bottom lightly with butter. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Serve with your favorite crackers.