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Brie appetizer is fit for season’s festivities


Makes 8-10 servings

6 to 8 brined grape leaves
(see Note)

1 (4- or 6- inch) medium-ripe brie

1 tablespoon olive oil

Remove leaves from jar and pat dry. Cut out thick center stems. On work surface, overlap three or four leaves with stem edges in the center. Position cheese on the leaves, then pull edges up around the cheese. Overlap 3 more leaves on top and tuck edges under. Brush well with half the olive oil.

Tie with raffia or cotton kitchen string to make a neat package and hold leaves in place.

Store in refrigerator if not serving immediately.

To warm, heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Brush with remaining oil and place in skillet until leaves begin to brown and crisp and the cheese softens. Untie raffia and slightly open the package. Serve with crackers or a toasted baguette.

Note: Reserve remaining leaves for later by storing in resealable plastic bag in refrigerator up to two weeks or freezer up to two months.
— Judith Dunbar Hines

Updated: April 14, 2014 4:48PM

Everyone loves getting a gift. And at this time of year, we love to give them too. We are all focused on those lists of people to treat to a package, tied with a ribbon and filled with promise.

As I look at my own list of family and friends and search for the perfect gift for each, I include the gift of entertaining them at this festive time.

There are years of hosting holiday parties in my past, and I love to remember the parties and the friends who have attended as I plan for this year. The guest list is made. The house is decorated, and now favorite recipes, many of them made just once a year, are on my mind.

Here is one that I have made year after year. I think your guests will love it as much as mine do, especially because it looks like a present from under the tree ... perfect for the season.

The host will appreciate that it takes few ingredients and can be made ahead of time. It is easy to make in multiples to suit the number of guests expected. Only a few brief minutes in a hot pan at the last minute, and this “gift package” goes to the party table.

Choose a medium-ripe brie-style cheese from one of the area’s cheese makers. I found several at the market from Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. Serve with thin slices of toasted baguette from your corner bakery or unique locally made crackers such as the rosemary flavor from Potter’s Crackers in Madison, Wis., or something from Nicole’s Divine Crackers, which offers delicious choices, some of them gluten-free for guests with dietary issues.

I hope all your holiday packages are as tasty as this one.

Local Attractions uses the best of regional produce and products and hopes you will do the same.

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