BRIE WITH FIGS, PISTACHIOS & WALNUTS
Since ancient times and revered among many faiths, figs have symbolized security and prosperity. With its muscular and twisting branches and bright green tropical feeling foliage, this Mediterranean fruit tree yields a velvety skin, crunchy seed, and fleshy pulp that marries beautifully with creamy brie and crunchy nuts. At Weston Table's inaugural cooking demonstration, 20 guests enjoyed this appetizer and pleaded that we send the recipe out as soon as possible. Made and cooked in under 15 minutes, it is perfect anytime of year--add a handful of dried cranberries to add a bit of New England color and zest to this Mediterranean combination. To enjoy the fig's subtle taste, an inexpensive house brie is most definitely the cheese of choice. This is a guilty sensory pleasure type of appetizer that pleases nearly anyone. If fresh figs are available, cut two or three into quarters, toss in a bit of olive oil and place them on top before placing the cheese in the oven.
Nota bene: It is important to use an oven proof to serving vessel that fits the cheese and the topping comfortably. Too big and the brie loses its structure--it will still taste yummy but be bit unsightly. A 1" space around the cheese is about perfect. The STAUB 6" CAST IRON GRATIN ROUND BAKING DISH is the perfect size for a standard 9 ounce grocery store wheel of Brie. The same simple technique delivers consistent results with an apricot jam and almond combination. Allowing the brie to come to room temperature before placing in the oven shortens the cooking time and allows the plate to evenly heat and toast without burning the nuts.
6 tablespoons fig jam preserves
1 tablespoon water
2/3 cup dried figs, Mission & Turkish, sliced as thinly as possible
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1/3 cup walnut hearts, roughly chopped
9.5-oz mild French brie (room temperature)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place the fig jam preserves in a microwave-safe dish. Add the water and microwave for 30 seconds to thin (the jam should remain heavy but pour easily. Add water to thin more if necessary).
3. In a small bowl, combine the sliced dried figs with the nuts. Add half of the fig jam and mix well to coat the nut mixture.
4. Place the round of room temperature brie in a small cast iron skillet, or oven-safe dish. Using a small spatula or spoon, coat the brie with the remainder of the jam.
5. Top the brie with the fig and nut mixture.
6. Place the brie dish on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until brie starts to ooze, but not melt.
7. Serve warm with sliced baguette or crackers.