Cathie Campbell

Roll out a wheel of Brie

Once upon a time, I did not like the soft cheese known as Brie. Or rather, I thought I didn't like it, until I truly gave it a fair chance. Then I was pleasantly surprised at the earthy, almost nutty, flavor. If you are a fan of this great cheese, too, perhaps you will find a recipe here that you would like to prepare for your holiday guests. I know you all are very talented cooks, so feel free to add or substitute ingredients as you see fit. As you plan your holiday menus, remember to take a break once in a while and treat yourself to some relaxing moments, either alone or with loved ones. Many blessings to all.

Baked Brie with caramelized onions

2 tablespoons butter

8 cups (4 large) onions, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper, to taste

Brie cheese (One 8-inch diameter, 32 to 36 ounces, packed in wooden box - save the box)

2 baguettes of French bread, sliced

1. Melt butter in heavy very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; saute until just tender, about 6 minutes. Add minced thyme, reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are golden, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup wine; stir until almost all liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes.

2. Sprinkle sugar over onions and saute until soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup wine; stir just until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; cool. (Can be prepared 2 days in advance; cover and refrigerate.)

3. Preheat oven to 350. Unwrap Brie, reserving bottom of wooden box. Cut away only top rind of cheese, leaving rind on sides and bottom intact. Return Brie to box, rind side down.

4. Place box on baking sheet. Top Brie evenly with onion mixture. Bake until cheese just melts, about 30 minutes. Transfer Brie in box to platter. Surround with baguette slices.

Baked Brie en croute

A nice chutney is a great substitute for the apricot preserves, if you like.

1 sheet puff pastry (frozen puff pastry, prepackaged)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup apricot preserves

1 8-ounce round Brie cheese

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

Crackers, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 375. Defrost puff pastry for approximately 15 to 20 minutes; unfold.

2. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.

3. Saute almonds in butter until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add cinnamon and stir until the almonds are well coated.

4. Carefully slice the top rind only from the round of Brie. Spread apricot preserves (or chutney) over the top of the cheese round.

5. Place the almond mixture over the top of the Brie and fruit and sprinkle brown sugar over the top.

6. Lay the puff pastry out on a flat surface. Place the Brie in the center of the pastry. Gather up the edges and fold toward the center; tie together with a length of kitchen twine. Brush beaten egg over the top and sides of the pastry.

7. Place Brie on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and flaky. Serve with an assortment of crackers.

Salmon and Brie torte with dill

1 wheel Brie cheese

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

Smoked salmon

Fresh dill, coarsely chopped

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1. Carefully cut the Brie into halves horizontally. (You can use a length of monofilament line for this, as it works great.)

2. Spread the softened cream cheese on the cut surfaces of each cheese half. Place some smoked salmon and dill on the bottom half and carefully place the top half over that.

3. Garnish with additional fresh dill and red bell pepper strips. Refrigerate and until thoroughly chilled; cut into wedges for serving.

Kahlua pecan Brie

1 15-ounce round Brie cheese

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons Kahlua

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Remove top rind of cheese and place the round on a serving platter.

2. Heat the pecans, Kahlua and brown sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Pour brown sugar mixture over cheese.

3. Serve with sliced apples, assorted crackers or gingersnap cookies.