At the Inn, we have had a flurry of activities: guests coming and going from all over the country, new recipes being tried out, and the redressing of some of our rooms. It's been a while since I had some of my antique pieces recovered. But I went ahead and redid two wing-back chairs and a lounge chair and ottoman, in our second floor suite.
In august, we booked three rooms for the Derby. I decided that was enough because, after 17 Kentucky Derby celebrations, I knew how work intensive it would be. But, honestly, this year seemed easier and more relaxed than in the past. John, my regular assistant was there to help me and Chandra who has worked for me on and off for the past three years came in to give some extra assistance.
We have changed our activities at our Inn over the years. Originally, we put on a Bar-B-Q for my guests on Thursday evening when they arrived. (I always have between six and ten guests.) But after years of dodging the rain on Thursdays, we switched to an indoor Cocktail Party. We also do a Champagne brunch on Derby morning, with Mimosas and a beautiful buffet.
We really go all out at the both events, but the Cocktail Party is special. We serve: Brie wrapped in Puff Pastry or Filo. We used Filo this year and it was delicious. In fact, I still have a little in the frig that I secretly stowed away to eat tomorrow. I love it! We also served Curried Meatballs in an awesome sauce, Artichoke Dip, fresh Marinated Mozzarella, Boursin cheese dip with Tuscan Toast and crudites, fresh shrimp, and Derby Pie. Yum.Everything was made from scratch, except the Derby pie and shrimp. And, of course, we serve Mint Juleps. The guests loved everything. And so did the help (me, John, and Chandra.
1 round of Brie (6 or 8 inch)
I package Phyllo dough sheets (most super markets carry this)
Take top off of chilled brie cheese. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and brown sugar. Place in 350 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, until sugar is melted and Phyllo is brown. Serve with small chunks of French bread, toasted bread, or crackers. Garnish with red and green grapes.
Phyllo-Wrapped Brie with Caramelized Onions
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
4 medium onions, cut into thin wedges (about 2 cups)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (filberts) or walnuts
8 sheets (17x12 inches) frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
2 4 1/2 ounces rounds Brie or camembert cheese
1/4 cup apricot spreadable fruit
Baguette-style French bread slices, pear and/or apple wedges, or assorted crackers
1. Melt the 1 tablespoon margarine or butter in a large saucepan. Add onion. Cover and cook over medium-low heat about 15 minutes or until onion is tender and golden, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle sugar over onion. Cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes more or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in hazelnuts or walnuts. Cool.
2. Work with one sheet of phyllo at a time, keeping remaining sheets covered with plastic wrap until needed. Lightly brush one sheet of phyllo dough with some of the 1/4 cup melted margarine or butter. Place another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first sheet, and brush with margarine or butter. Repeat with two more sheets of phyllo, brushing with margarine or butter. Cut a 12-inch circle from the stack; discard trimmings.
3. Slice one round of Brie or camembert in half horizontally. Place bottom half in center of phyllo stack. Spread with 1 tablespoon of the apricot spreadable fruit; top with one-fourth of the caramelized onion-hazelnut mixture. Top with other half of Brie, 1 tablespoon spreadable fruit, and another one-fourth of onion-hazelnut mixture. Wrap phyllo up and over filling, pleating phyllo as needed to cover and slightly twisting phyllo on top. Brush phyllo with margarine or butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo, margarine, Brie, spreadable fruit, and onion-hazelnut mixture.
4. Place one wrapped Brie round in an 8x8x2-inch baking pan or two rounds in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Cover and chill up to 24 hours. Bake in a 400 degree F oven about 20 minutes or until golden. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with bread, fruit wedges, or crackers. Makes 12 servings.
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