As is the case every December, I feel like I'm behind. Behind on baking. Behind on shopping. Behind on decorating for the holidays. I've been a little busy with other things...
1. I just finished cutting and sewing the Christmas stockings above. My sister, Antique-of-the-Week Susan, sent me old German grain sacks made of handwoven linen with black printing that she envisioned as Christmas stockings for her five grandchildren. And now they are. Check that off my list of things to do...
2. The drapes I mentioned I'm making for my daughter's new, old house in a previous post are practically completed. The drapery hardware just needs to be installed, allowing me to sew the hems in place.. the last step. Finally!
3. And then... well, there's Midge. Midge visits me for 8 hours each and every weekday. Midge likes to take long walks... even when it's cold.
I have yet to even begin everything I plan to do in my kitchen during the month of December. But yesterday, deciding to take some time to relax, I made what I consider to be a perfect winter salad. I poured some wine, called a friend, and had a very nice evening. The greens of the winter salad are topped with wedges of baked, French Brie. It seems as though every grocery store I enter in December has rounds of Brie on sale during the month, and I stock up. Crisp, cold apples are the perfect partner to the creamy cheese. I used organic Gala apples in my salad but any variety will do.
Right before the Brie is placed in the oven it's sprinkled with chopped, toasted walnuts. I, fortunately, have a freezer full of black walnuts that my husband gathered this fall on his father's farm. He has spent many a day shelling and picking the nut meat from the large bucket of walnuts he brought back from Iowa. When he finally finishes the black walnuts, there are also English walnuts waiting for him.
The only thing I served with the salad was a crusty baguette and glasses of wine, but a little seared steak would be an awfully good follow-up!
• 2 organic Gala apples, or other apple of your choice, sliced into thin wedges
• Apple cider
• 4 slices apple-smoked bacon
• 1/4 cup apple cider
• 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• kosher or sea salt
• 1 8-ounce round Brie
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1/4 cup black or English walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
• 5 ounces mixed salad greens
1. Dip apple slices into apple cider to prevent browning; set aside.
2. Dice bacon and cook in a small skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings in skillet. Add 1/4 cup apple cider, balsamic vinegar, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar to the drippings; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown sugar dissolves, sprinkle with a little salt and set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 450˚F. Remove top rind from Brie. Cut the cheese into 6 wedges. Place wedges on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar and walnuts. Bake Brie for 3 to 4 minutes or just until soft.
4. Toss the greens with a portion of the reserved apple cider-balsamic vinegar mixture. Arrange lettuce greens, apple slices, and the wedges of walnut-baked Brie on plates. Drizzle with a little more apple cider-balsamic dressing, if needed and sprinkle with bacon.
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