Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Belated Easter Dinner

Because, I'll be honest, holidays these days are more about the fact that I get to cook a big, fun meal for family and try out new dishes. This past Easter weekend was no different - despite the usual spiral ham, all other dishes were left to my choosing this year. This was the menu I settled on:

Easter Spiral Sliced Ham
with Twice Baked Potatoes, Spiced Apple Carrot Casserole and  Steamed Green Beans

I bought a fresh pineapple and cut half slices, pinning them onto the ham with toothpicks. Cherries are a nice addition too!

Before dinner comes appetizers!

Raspberry Baked Brie
1 8 oz. round brie
1 sheet of Pepperidge farms puff pastry
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 TB brown sugar
1 TB seedless red raspberry jam
1 TB red raspberry preserves w/ seeds
Serve with green apple slices, green grapes, crackers, dried cranberries

When you open your brie round you'll notice it has a thick rind on the exterior - it's supposed to be that way and yes, you are supposed to eat it! This recipe is great for a dinner party - but can be difficult to eat, so be sure to have small plates and silverware available. What I like is that you don't have to serve this with just bread and crackers - fruit is great with brie - I love the tartness of green apples and green grapes.
Grind your walnuts in a nut grinder if you haven't already bought them chopped. Add them with the brown sugar to a small bowl, mix together until well combined. While you're working on this step be sure your puff pastry is out of the freezer and laid out to defrost.
Pour the brown sugar nut mixture in a circle in the center of the puff pastry sheet. Try to make the circle about the size of the brie round because you'll put the brie on top of this area soon. In a separate small bowl stir together the two different TB of raspberry jam/preserves. It's not necessary to have the 2 different types - I just don't like a lot of seeds in my jam so I like a little seedless mixed in.
Pour the raspberry jam mixture right on top of the chopped walnuts and brown sugar. It should be a little thick and sticky, so don't worry about the jam spreading over the edge of the round nut area. At this point your puff pastry sheet should be pretty well defrosted so that in the next couple steps you'll be able to mold the pastry around the brie round.
Put the brie round right on top of the jam and nut round area. Follow the pictures below here to mold the puff pastry round the brie, turning up each corner, one by one so there are not any open seams on the edges (or else the cheese might melt out and make a big mess!). Once you've folded the last corner, place it seam side down in a round, glass baking dish. Make a few cuts in the top of the pastry dough with a knife.

Like wrapping up a present!

Bake for 25 minutes at 360 degrees until the pastry is golden brown and puffy. When you take it out of the oven, let it cool for a bit - the hot melted cheese will ooze out when you cut it open!

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