Add a little warmth to the cooler months
Let’s be honest. The time between the harvest and the holiday season can feel like an eternity. The weather grows colder by the minute and the sky seems to be perpetually grey, yet there’s no snow on the ground to lift our spirits. So how can you make the time pass a little faster? Why, with a tummy-pleasing appetizer, of course. A personal favourite of mine, and one that I know will put a smile on your face, is Canadian Brie Fondue.
Now, you don’t need to be a wine aficionado to know that nothing complements cheese like a nice glass of red or white. But you may need a little help to know which bottles will take this appetizer to the next level. Personally, I recommend a white Sancerre. A bottle of Domaine Fournier Père & Fils Grande Cuvee Vieilles Vignes 2010 would be an excellent choice. It’s crisp and citrusy, so it will cut through the fondue’s creaminess. But if you’d prefer a nice glass of red, I’d suggest a Grenache. It’s earthy yet not too fruity and pairs very well with Canadian Brie. Try a bottle of 2010 Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita Priorat.
1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
1 minced clove garlic
¼ tsp dried thyme or
½ tsp (2 ml) fresh thyme
¼ cup (60 ml) finely chopped onion
¼ cup (60 ml) finely diced butternut squash
¼ cup (60 ml) diced red bell pepper
¼ cup (60 ml) finely chopped apple
1 tbsp (15 ml) water
1 6½ oz (200 g) round Canadian Brie cheese, divided in half
4 to 6 cups (1 to 1.5 L) cubes French Bread or baguette
1 tsp (5 ml) Maldon sea salt or coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 °F (190 °C).
In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, thyme, onions, squash and peppers; sauté for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add apple, sauté 2 minutes. Stir in water and sauté for about 8 to 10 min or until squash is tender and liquid has evaporated.
On large ovenproof platter, arrange Canadian Brie halves (semi-circles) with backs touching and cut edges facing out; spoon vegetable mixture on top of each half. Bake for 8 to 12 min or until the cheese melts and spreads across the platter.
Remove from oven; place half of the bread cubes into melted cheese and sprinkle with Maldon salt*. Serve immediately with remaining bread in a basket alongside the platter with knives to spread once the cheese sets.
If entertaining a larger group, double or triple the recipe and prepare a few platters, your guests will be wrestling for the last cube!
Make ahead: Cover and refrigerate, for up to one day, bring to room temperature before baking or allow extra time for melting.
Brie cheese size does not have to be exact nor does it have to be a circle, that’s the beauty of this recipe! You should just consider which side of the plate the cheese is going to spread to when it melts.
*Maldon salt is a pyramid-shaped soft flaky crystal sea salt that adds a little crunch and fresh flavour to foods. Crush it between your fingers before sprinkling. Maldon salt can be found in the spice section of most grocery and specialty stores, if not available use coarse sea salt.