Brie Cheese has become one of the top ten favorite cheeses worldwide and yet I meet many that have never had it or are a bit intimidated to try it. I think it is the white chalky style rind that actually molds that has many leery, you think?
Now for those that have indulged in this creamy soft fragrant cheese and have eaten the rind not realizing that it is mold, don’t panic! It is totally edible and the flavor of the Brie and the rind vary depending on the ingredients and the environment in which it is manufactured. Those that have fallen spell to this wonderful cheese know just how addicting it can be.
Presentations of Brie range from sweet to savory, wrapped in pastry, phyllo or not at all; served cold or warm with rind on or rind removed, all adding amazing flavor to this cheese. Of course, you can just eat it plain, cold with crackers or flatbreads and your favorite mustard, it is still marvelous! Brie is a French cow’s milk cheese that is named after the French region of Brie where it was originated. Typically sold as a whole wheel or a wedge, always with the white rind.
Please give this flavorful very versatile cheese a chance as one of your appetizers at your next party, family gathering or just happy hour paired with a good wine! If you are still leery, definitely drink that glass of wine first, maybe two to loosen you up, haha! I promise you will love it! For years the Mediterranean region ranging from Istanbul to Athens appetizers are traditionally served in the middle of the day to go along with conversion and drinks. The Greeks call these appetizers “Meze”, also spelled Mezze or Meza which means ” middle of the day”. Greek Meze usually includes spanakopita, tiropita, olives, fish roe dip and cheeses, mine usually includes brie to these favorites.
I have many recipes for Brie, all delicious and all very popular for gatherings at my home, mezethes and for catering events. I am going to share one of my favorite and most popular Brie recipes. You will always get the “Wow factor when you show up to any event with this recipe. There will be no leftovers and everyone will ask you for the recipe. I always make extra or save some for later for how can one put all these delicious mouth watering flavors together and not get to indulge!
This recipe is basically a Tomato Brochetta mixture, not the typical Italian Brochetta, this one is a Greek Tomato Brochetta (although with a few changes, you could certainly make this an Italian version). Brie wheels come small and large. I will usually buy one or two large ones for parties over 20# guests. I like the small wheels if you are having other appetizers. Over time I will share with you my favorite ways to stuff them, stack them, make them sweet or savory and always a beautiful presentation to go along with your brief display… so many wonderful ways to present this creamy dreamy delight!
Mediterranean Brochetta Brie with Pine Nuts
Preparation time: 30 min
Cooking time: 15-20 min
Yield: 20 appetizer servings
- 2 small 8oz wheels of brie
- 1 cup pine nuts (toasted and coarsely chopped in food processor)
- 1 tbsp. good olive oil
- 4 spring onions (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp. Greek oregano ( or good dried oregano)
- black pepper & sea salt
- 1 large vine ripe tomato chopped or a 15oz can fire roasted tomatoes, drained)
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley or handful
- 1 tbsp. capers
- 3/4 cup feta cheese
- 1 egg
- 6 rounds of Pita bread (cut each into 8 wedges)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pine nuts on a baking sheet that has been covered with one piece of foil, toast for 15 minutes until fragrant and slightly brown. Transfer to Cuisinart and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped, put in a shallow dish or pie pan. Do not wash Cuisinart, place onion, garlic and parsley in processor and pulse until coarse chopped. Heat a small pan with olive oil on medium, add the spring onion, garlic, and oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Let sauté for about 5 minutes, until the herbs are fragrant and the room smells like heaven! Add tomatoes and #capers, toss gently, mixing well, let sauté for just a few minutes more, remove from heat, set aside. Capers are the bud of a flower and have a citrus flavor, perfect for this recipe At this point you could make brochetta the traditional way by placing one tbsp. of tomato mixture to the top of toasted french bread slices, then top with a sprinkle of feta and poof… a different appetizer!
Place the 4 pieces of pita bread on a cutting board, with a sharp knife cut in half, then turn & cut in half again, then turn cutting until you have 8 equal pieces. Repeat for the next 4 pita rounds. Remove the first 4 cut pita pieces and place on a separate piece of foil big enough to seal completely, set aside. Keep the last 2 pita rounds together and place on the oiled baking sheet, brush with olive oil and place in the oven for 10 minutes. While this is baking, in the same (not cleaned) food processor add 1/4 cup of the feta, 1 tsp. oregano and the egg. Pulse until creamy and egg is mixed through. Pour into a shallow bowl, now roll the wheel of brie through the mixture spreading the cheese mixture heavily around the rim of the brie wheel. Now gently roll in the toasted pine nuts until the wheel is covered.
Place Brie wheels right in the center of the toasted Pita rounds, gently top each with half of the brochetta mixture. If you want it heavy, use it all, if you want it light just use some of the mixture and use the rest to place around the brie after it comes out of the oven. Seal the remaining cut pita wedges in the foil and place them and the prepared Brie in the oven for about 15 minutes until warm and soft.
Move to a serving dish big enough to place the pita wedges around the brie, using a big spatula or gently sliding it from pan to plate. Let sit for 15 min, sprinkle the whole plate with the feta and serve with additional warm pita wedges.
A few notes: I really don’t like a big mess to clean up with a zillion, bowls, dishes pots, and pans to clean up. So I never clean my Cuisinart when I am making a dish that all items are basically same flavors. I used the Cuisinart for three different parts of this appetizer and never washed it until the end. Also, when you need to turn the Cuisinart bowl over to pour remember to put your finger in the opening on the bottom. This holds the blade in place and it will not fall out, plop into the bowl splattering everything all over! It also helps so you can get your spatula in between bowl and blade to get every last drop.
The best part of this recipe is you can make these brie in advance and just put them in the oven a half hour before you plan on serving. These are delicious and the smell of pine nuts, herbs and feta lure you in! Great for a Mother’s Day appetizer.