Bonding over Brie. And bevies. Lots of bevies.
Oh, hello again lovely reader! A lot of things happened when I turned 40 in 2017. Among the highlights: I lost 30 lbs, I started exercising, I discovered gin, and I met my best friend.
It all happened one night in October, 2017 when I crashed a party. I found myself at some random woman’s beautiful ranch-style house, sitting in her kitchen, while the people around me celebrated their friend’s 40th birthday. If you know me at all, you know I love a good shindig. But if you really know me, you’ll understand how uncomfortable I was to be 1) sober at a party and 2) only familiar with two people there. All good parties revolve around the food and drinks, so I parked myself on a stool at the kitchen island and watched the action happening around me while I munched the yummy snacks and drank one small gin.
I was so out of my element that I pretty much devoured an entire wheel of Brie out of sheer nervousness.
After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally introduced to Joanne, the birthday girl, who had been celebrating for hours and who had the most vivacious personality of anyone I’d ever met. Quick introductions were made and then she skittered away on sock feet across the floor and into the other room. Back to the stool I went, and I continued to dig into the yummy Brie.
I’m quite certain I made zero impression on my future best friend. But the Brie cheese was making quite the impression on me.
The following month, I crashed another 40th birthday party I wasn’t actually invited to. The date was November 18, the day before Steve’s birthday. And lo and behold, Joanne was there again. I re-introduced myself when she said I looked familiar… I told her I’d crashed her 40th birthday party. We had a good laugh about that when I told her how I ended up there. She introduced me to many of the ladies who’d been at her birthday party, and introduced me to some of her old buddies from elementary school, people that would also soon become very important people to me… and we had a great time singing karaoke, drinking wine, and snapping selfies for the rest of the night.
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
So Joanne and I slowly got acquainted with each other; she’d have me over for play dates with our kids. We drank “gin and drops” and she turned me on to martinis. I’d have her over too. Our dogs Willow and Molly would play as well.
I also met Kelli, the gal who brought the amazing Brie cheese I’d eaten the night of Joanne’s birthday party.
I told Kelli how delicious her Brie dish was and she happily shared the recipe with me. It is so easy to make and quite the showstopper in looks and taste. I made it at many house parties I hosted in Calgary, and I even made it one night when I came back to Calgary for a visit and we had a get-together. Of course, I added a few extras to make it my own, such as the ever-present Cholula, and some basil and pepper. I also increased the garlic because anyone who knows me knows I love garlic! I guarantee that the party people will eat it all up. I say, bring it to the next party you attend; you just might meet your future best friend.
A WORD ABOUT MINCED GARLIC
I used to be the person who used the minced garlic in the jars for all my recipes. The jarred garlic is convenient and easy, and I’m pretty lazy sometimes. But what I’ve discovered is that fresh garlic is the best choice for a dish that highlights garlic, as this dish does. Use the jarred minced garlic for recipes like marinades or in chili, when it’s just used as an underlying flavour. But in a showstopper garlic recipe, fresh garlic is best.
Another thing I should mention about minced garlic is getting the right tools for the job. I don’t mind using a chef’s knife and taking 10 minutes to peel and chop my garlic. But it’s not super time-efficient to do that. A lot of garlic presses I’ve used seem to get gummed up by the garlic skins, and are a huge hassle to clean. However, Joanne swears by her easy peasy garlic press, so I got one too.
It came with a garlic peeler too. People assure me this thing works. You just put the garlic inside and roll the gadget around with your hands and the skins come right off.
Party Crasher Brie Cheese with Garlic and Sun-dried Tomatoes, aka Best Friend Brie
- 1 big wheel of double cream Brie cheese
- 1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes, plus some oil from the jar, chopped small
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1-2 Tbsp dehydrated or fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp Cholula
- pepper, to taste
1. In a medium bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, parsley, basil, Cholula, and pepper. Mix to combine. Add as much oil as required to make everything stick together but not so much as to make the mix sopping wet. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow the flavours to develop.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
3. Place your Brie in a stoneware Brie baker, or on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Top with the tomato mixture.
4. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is somewhat melted on the inside but not coming out the sides. If you used a cookie sheet, carefully transfer the Brie to a serving platter. Serve with crackers.