warm brie with fennel salad

Ah, the life of a chef. I love developing new recipes, and the challenge associated with pairing delicious food with an absolutely amazing wine. Once again, Brian Carter Cellars has asked me to taste their upcoming releases for summer, and I wanted share with you my  choice of an appetizer to match. Enjoy with a glass of Brian Carter Cellars Trentenaire 2008!

warm brie with fennel salad and blackberry fennel butter

Make it on the grill and keep the kitchen COOL!

for the salad:

1 bulb fennel
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Chardonnay smoked sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Trim fennel bulb, reserving  feathery frond tops. Cut in half through the root. Rub with one teaspoon of the olive oil. Place on preheated grill, cooking and turning every 2-3 minutes, until the fennel just begins to soften. Remove from heat; slice VERY thinly. Toss with balsamic vinegar, sea salt, black pepper and remaining olive oil.

Slice the top from a small round of brie. Place brie in an oven proof dish, heat until softened on the grill. Top with grilled fennel salad and blackberry fennel butter (recipe follows). Garnish with fronds.Serve with crackers or toast points.

blackberry fennel butter

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup butter
¼ cup blackberries
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In small skillet, heat olive oil and fennel seeds just until  fragrant. Remove from heat and cool.

Soften the butter, then stir in cooled fennel mixture. Mash in blackberries, season with salt and pepper.

To store, place the butter mixture in the center of a piece of plastic wrap. Fold one edge of the plastic wrap over the butter. Glide your hands back and forth over the butter to shape it into a cylinder. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap shut and refrigerate until firm.

Compound butter can be kept refrigerated for several days or frozen for up to a month. To use, simply slice off the desired amount and continue to store the rest.

 Chef’s note: This is also a unique and mouthwatering topping for a grilled steak!


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