Entertaining over the winter holidays is what I was born to do.
As a small child, I remember the thrill of being allowed to help my mother set the table for Christmas dinner. She always placed a perfectly ironed cloth napkin on each dinner plate and I would set a small mandarin orange in the center for a simple, natural decoration.
Now it’s a thrill to welcome young and old into my own home on cold December days to catch up over winter sangria and hot spiced apple cider. From intimate dinners with friends to rowdy brunches with armies of family members, my kitchen is command central and I am the general.
In order to properly enjoy the party and visit with my guests, the food has to be utterly simple. I specialise in canapés that come together in a matter of minutes, like these stuffed mushrooms. They can be assembled in advance and baked just before they’re needed. They may seem mighty impressive, but stuffed mushrooms really are very easy to pull off.
Often the best bites at a party are the simplest ones. These festive little bites were inspired by one of my most popular recipes, a baked Brie with cranberry sauce and heaps of walnuts. It’s another simple appetizer, but I wanted to create something tasty that left out the bread and crackers altogether. When I entertain, I try to steer away from copious amounts of bread and bread products; instead I prefer to get creative with seafood, vegetables, dried fruit, cured meat, cheese and nuts.
These Brie and cranberry stuffed mushrooms are an ideal vegetarian and gluten-free option to your Christmas soirée. Happy Holidays!
Festive Brie & cranberry stuffed mushrooms recipe
Serves 12 as a canapé
12 mini Portobello mushrooms
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp each sea salt and black pepper
¼ cup/60ml homemade or quality cranberry sauce
½ round of creamy Brie
12 walnut pieces
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Wipe mushroom caps with a damp cloth and remove the stem – this is a good job for little kitchen helpers.
Brush mushroom caps inside and out with olive oil. Place on the prepared baking sheet, stem side up, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon a dollop of cranberry sauce into each cap. Slice the Brie into bite-size pieces and tuck one into each mushroom. Top with a walnut piece and slide the pan into the oven.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with a few fresh thyme leaves and serve warm.