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Two Ways to Give Your Brie a Boost

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Frances Strange addresses a sold-out cooking class at Central Market.

Brie is a favorite appetizer for many because it’s easy to work with. Just wrap the cheese in puff pastry and bake until ready.

But that’s not the only way to serve this creamy favorite.

During a recent Central Market cooking class, Frances Strange of Don Strange of Texas offered two different yet tasty brie recipes that go together quickly and can be done in advance. That will leave you with plenty of time to  spend with your guests.

That’s the point of entertaining at the holidays or any time of year: “Don’t let the little things stop you from being with the people who mean something to you,” she said.

So, make some Mango and Brie Quesadillas, in which the cheese melts into avocado slices as well as the juicy fruit. Or try a Baked Brie without the pastry but with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil.

When making the quesadillas, it’s easier to work with the cheese after  it’s been in the freezer for a short while, cooking school instructor Emily Carlos said. The cheese is harder, so it can been peeled and sliced quickly. That approach would also work for the Baked Brie, as well.

Mango and Brie Quesadillas (right) with Baked Brie.

Giving you the confidence to entertain in style is what Frances Strange hopes to offer in her new book, “Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes” (Shearer Publishing, $34.95), written with Terry Thompson-Anderson.

“There’s talk of a second edition and it’s only been out a week,” she said, slightly awed at the response it has received.

Good food is always welcome, but that’s not the secret to a memorable party, said Strange, whose family has been in the catering business for decades. It’s something she learned from her husband, Don, who built the nationally recognized business without “one minute of food training.”

“It’s not about the food, it’s about the people you’re with,” she said.

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