Happy Hour: Brie Puff Pastry, Orange-Beet Salad, and Stuffed Peppers

26 Oct

Every Friday, I make happy hour at home. For one, it is waaaay cheaper than going out to happy hour all the time. And secondly, it lets me make a few small things that I don’t have time to make during the week. Sometimes I get my ideas from when I eat something delicious at happy hour and try to mimic it and sometimes it comes from reading a lot of blogs and magazines about entertaining. Happy hour Fridays are definitely the meal that the boyfriend and I look forward to all week. After a long week at work, it is perfect to come home and cook a few fun recipes and open up a few bottles of wine — and for a fraction of the cost of the exact same thing at a bar or restaurant!

So, for this most recent happy hour, I made three dishes:
1) Goat cheese and cilantro stuffed red bell peppers
2) Orange and beet salad
3)Puff pastry wrapped brie with caramelized onions

The goat cheese and cilantro stuffed bell peppers were super easy. I got the idea from being at one of my favorite restaurants where they offer stuffed piquillo peppers. I am so cheap, that although those sounded tasty, it also sounded super easy. I opted out of trying them at the restaurant and added it to my list of things to make.

Since I already had red bell peppers in a jar at home, I chose to not buy piquillo peppers and just use what I had. I tend to have jarred bell peppers at home because they make a great hummus. For this recipe, you only need three ingredients:
1) Jarred red peppers
2) Goat cheese
3) Cilantro

I then let the goat cheese get to room temperature so I could mix it easily with the chopped cilantro. Then, simply stuffed the peppers with the cheese mixture and baked them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until the cheese started to melt a little.

The beet salad is also an idea from the same restaurant’s menu. I have made beet salad a few times but usually with argula. In the past, I have had really negative opinions about beets because when I was in high school, I loved the movie Harold and Maude. In this movie, Harold eats beets and it is a huge turn-off from the vegetable. (If you have never seen this movie, I highly suggest it. It is a beautiful, if highly unconventional, love story. And the soundtrack is possibly the best ever — it’s all Cat Stevens. Ah, I want to watch this movie right now!)

Anyway, my older brother told me to try beets because he had an amazing beet salad. I was still reluctant. Then, I went to the above discussed restaurant, saw it on the menu, and boyfriend and I decided to try it. Now, to recreate it…

For this recipe, you need the following:
– 1 bunch of beets (about 3 bulbs)
– 2 oranges
– Olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar
– Walnuts

To begin with, slice the beets.

Aren’t they an amazing color? Don’t wear your favorite white t-shirt as you do this though. Beets have a beautiful color and that beautiful color might stain your shirt.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat the beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until they start to release their juices. I always taste test one until it is soft, but still has a good bite to it.

Next, take one orange and juice it. Then, combine with olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper to taste for the dressing.

With the other orange, do your best to make nice slices. I can’t do this yet, so mine ended up being chunks. But whatever, it tasted the same.

For the walnuts, get out a pan on medium heat. Add the walnuts and once they start to toast, add a pinch or two of sugar until the walnuts start to caramelize. This only takes a second so don’t ignore your pan! Otherwise you will end up with burned walnuts and those aren’t delicious.

Then, it is just a matter of plating. Layer your beets, top with oranges and walnuts, and then pour the dressing. Since I already had goat cheese from my stuffed peppers, I also added a little goat cheese. If you want more of a salad feel, I think arugula at the bottom of the dish would add that perfect peppery bite to contrast the sweetness of the orange. Plus, I just really like arugula.

And, for the puffed pastry brie dish. Last year, I went to a Christmas party and one of my friends had made something similar. I don’t remember what her toppings were, but the combination of flaky puff pastry with melted brie cheese was stellar. My favorite Tia has also baked brie with pine nuts on top before that I really enjoyed with crusty bread slices. So, for this happy hour, I decided I wanted to incorporate those ideas. I read a bunch of recipes for sweet versions of this, but I wanted something savory. I decided to go with onions — I think I saw this somewhere, but can’t give the appropriate credit. The recipe that I saw and saved was for a sweet variation.

To begin with, I went and bought Pillsbury puff pastry. This stuff costs a lot more than I expected – $5 for 2 sheets. I may have to start looking for a recipe to make and freeze my own for future recipes because this recipe is definitely one to repeat for me.

To start, I had to caramelize the onions. This is a bit of a long process, but nothing is challenging about it. I took one medium sized white onion and sliced it. Then, I took my cast iron pot and melted a little bit of butter with some olive oil. Once the onions started to cook a little, I added some cracked black pepper, salt, and a tiny bit of sugar for the sweetness. Since the onions take over half an hour to caramelize, it is really important that you cook them on a low temperature and stir frequently. I also added a few tablespoons of water throughout the cooking process to make sure the onions didn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. At the very end, I added a dash of balsamic vinegar. Rachael Ray always deglazes her pan to get whatever goodness has stuck to her pan, and I decided to use that logic with this. I almost used red wine. I think that would have been a good choice also, but I voted against it and drank the wine instead. I mean, it was happy hour!

When it was defrosted, I cut the brie cheese in half and laid one half of it down with the rind side down. Then, I took the caramelized onions and layered them on the cheese.

Layer on the other half of the brie cheese…its like a cheese and onion sandwich..

Then, wrap it up in the puff pastry. When you bake it, make sure to put the seam side down.

Then, like everything else I cook, bake it at 350 degrees. I think it took about 20-25 minutes. I basically just waited until the top of the puff pastry was golden brown. I think that goldness would have been improved if you brushed it with egg white, or whatever bakers do to make their pastries have that nice golden sheen, but I didn’t do that.

The best part is when you cut it open and all that cheese comes oozing out….

I am a little ashamed about the fact that between three people, we cleaned off all three of these plates. Not to toot my own horn, but it was pretty delicious. Now, what am I going to make for happy hour at home next time?

The Boyfriend Rates It: 5, It is even better than it looks! The pastry was crispy and flaky and oozing with cheese and sweet onions, orange-beet salad was bold and refreshing and the stuffed peppers were amazing ( I love goat cheese.) Cant wait till next week 🙂

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2 Responses to “Happy Hour: Brie Puff Pastry, Orange-Beet Salad, and Stuffed Peppers”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Happy Hour: Crostini with Brie and Dates, Black Bean Dip, and Chorizo and Cheese Puff Pastry « Mexicanese - November 9, 2012

    […] before so I decided to do something else with chorizo and cheese. And because I recently did that brie puff pastry for happy hour that I already want to make again and have to restrain myself from, I wanted to use puff pastry […]

  2. Happy Hour: Puff Pastry with Brie and Strawberry Jam « Mexicanese - January 29, 2013

    […] sticky. In the next round of these appetizers, I think I would do the same concept as I do with the caramelized onion brie puff pastry and stuff the puff pastry with the round of brie and jam instead. It would come out as one dish and […]

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