Enjoy the Gift of Surprise

Chris Brandl - Monday, December 21, 2015

The holidays are always full of surprises - gift giving, holiday parties,unexpected guests, and this year: the constantly changing weather. It can be a quite an adventure trying keeping pace with this exciting and demanding season. 

As a father to twin 5 year-old girls, I find the only way to survive happily is to just go with the flow and embrace the unforeseen. No other time of the year affords such an amazing opportunity to reconnect with friends and family. So, when your old college buddy, or in-laws suddenly show up on your doorstep - poor a glass of holiday cheer, relax and enjoy it!

With very little planning, you can whip up a quick snack and amaze your guests at a moments notice. Here are 2 of my time saving secrets: I always like to keep puff pastry in the fridge because it’s such an easy way to a seemingly “fancy” hors d’oeuvre. Also, I like to cook up a batch of caramelized onions ahead of time to keep in the fridge. Making these ahead of time allows you to add an exceptional level of flavor to just about anything. When paired with the versatile puff pastry and a few items from your pantry, your possibilities are endless. Get creative! 

Here are some of my simple holiday favorites, to get you started. 

Wishing you good food, good health, and much happiness in the coming year.

Brandl Belmar Blog - RecipesBrandl’s Perfectly Caramelized Onions

From the kitchen of Chris Brandl
Prep Time: 10 min   Cook Time: 45 min    Yield: 2 cups


INGREDIENTS
  1. 5 large onions
  2. 3 tsp butter
  3. 2 tsp olive oil
  4. 1 tsp sugar
  5. 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  6. Salt to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Slice onions into 1/2” pieces; lengthwise
  2. Sauté onions, butter & olive oil in a wide bottom pan for 10-15 minutes; until the edges of the onions become translucent
  3. Add sugar and salt 
  4. Sauté onions on medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes.  Stir occasionally; allowing the mixture to rest and brown in the pan for a few minutes without burning the onions. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to maximize flavor. 
  5. Add a little water as needed, to prevent mixture from drying out
  6. Add vinegar  & stir
  7. Store refrigerated for several days in an air-tight container


Brandl Belmar Blog - RecipesSavory Apple Turnover 

From the kitchen of Chris Brandl
Prep Time: 15 min   Cook Time: 20 min   
Stand Time: 5 min    Yield: 18 pcs


INGREDIENTS
  1. 1 large apple - 1/4” slices; core removed
  2. 1 cup caramelized onions  (recipe above)
  3. 2 puff pastry sheets
  4. 1 wedge of Brie (9 -12 oz)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Roll out dough to a 12” square on a lightly floured surface
  2. Cut dough into 4” squares
  3. Layer 1 slice of apple, 1 slice of brie, and 2 tsp. of onions
  4. Brush pastry edges with water
  5. Fold dough over the filling so corners meet and pastry is triangle shaped; press edges with a fork to seal
  6. Bake for 15-20 min in a 400 degree, pre-heated oven
  7. Let stand for a few minutes before serving


Brandl Belmar Blog - RecipesFestive Brie En Croute

From the kitchen of Chris Brandl
Prep Time: 15 min   Cook Time: 20 min   
Stand Time: 20 min    Serves: 12


INGREDIENTS
  1. 1 Egg
  2. 1 tbsp water
  3. 1 puff pastry sheet 
  4. 1/2 cup raspberry preserves
  5. 1/4 cup sliced almonds (Optional. We are a nut free house for my daughter, so we omit this.)
  6. 1 medium round of Brie (13–16 oz)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Roll out dough to a 14” square on a lightly floured surface 
  2. Spread preserves over dough to within 2” of the edge
  3. Sprinkle almonds over preserves
  4. Place brie in center and fold the edges over to cover with dough
  5. Trim the excess dough and reserve for decoration
  6. Press  dough to seal and paint egg mixture over the seam
  7. Place seam side face down on a baking sheet
  8. Form excess dough into festive shapes & place on top
  9. Brush remaining egg mixture over entire surface
  10. Bake for 20 minutes in 400 degree, pre-heated oven
  11. Let stand for at least 20 min before serving with crackers


Brandl Belmar Blog - RecipesSpicy Pepper Tartlet

From the kitchen of Chris Brandl
Prep Time: 15 min   Cook Time: 15 min   
Stand Time: 20 min    Yield: 16 pcs


INGREDIENTS
  1. 1/3 cup jalapeno pepper jelly
  2. 1 wedge of Brie (9 -12 oz)
  3. 1 puff pastry sheet
  4. Ground cumin to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Roll out dough to a 12” square on a lightly floured surface 
  2. Cut dough into 3” squares
  3. Grease muffin pan and press squares into the cups so there is a raised edge
  4. Place a slice of brie on top of dough in each cup
  5. Spread 3/4 tsp. of jalapeno pepper jelly over the brie
  6. Lightly dust with ground cumin
  7. Bake for 15 min in a 400 degree, pre-heated oven
  8. Let stand for a few minutes before serving


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