Cheese-fruit pie is 'best of two worlds'

March 08, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

WILLIAMSPORT -- Monty R. Jones was so tired of cheesecake, he came up with his own version -- cranberry almond-brie with a puff-pastry crust.

To be clear, Jones's cranberry almond brie pie neither resembles nor tastes like what you'd think of as a traditional cheesecake.

The taste of the cheese is subdued and the almond is the most prominent flavor. There's a "twang" from the cranberry. Preparation for the pie isn't that much different from any other pie, and seemed pretty approachable for a person who's made a pie or two.

The end result looks like what would happen if you made a massive fruit dumpling in a pie pan, except instead of thick flaps of pie crust, thin layers of puff pastry are folded to the center of the pie.


Once sliced open, the inside looks like a pie-baklava hybrid, with striations of phyllo dough, cheese and cranberry-almond mix.

Jones came up this recipe for Thanksgiving, when cranberries were plentiful. But you're not limited to cranberries, he said. Feel free to swap them out for something else.

"I can't think of a fruit that wouldn't work with this," Jones said.

Peaches, pears or cherries came to mind after a quick brainstorm among Herald-Mail staffers.

He said the phyllo dough is probably the only ingredient pie-makers might write off as newfangled. But he said it isn't so scary to work with if you follow the directions on the package.

Ahem, this might be the silver lining for those still intimidated by the puff pastry: You don't have to make the crust from scratch.

Jones, the outgoing assistant mayor of Williamsport, has seen lots of food in his day. At 45 years old, he's spent a good portion of his career in the restaurant business, as did his relatives. The Jones family has ties to the now-closed Richardson's Restaurant off Dual Highway in Hagerstown and owned other restaurants in the region.

This recipe, perhaps, was the best of two worlds. Jones said he was tired of the same old pie -- "Everybody has apple pie, pumpkin pie, blueberry pie; we all grew up on that stuff." -- and he also has a fascination with cheese.

"I mean, I put cheese on my Pop Tarts," Jones said.

At home, Jones leaves a good bit of the cooking for his wife Renee -- at least that's what she told The Herald-Mail on a recent visit to the Jones's residence.

"It's kind of like the plumber who comes home and doesn't fix his own pipes," said Renee Jones. She added that she watches Paula Deen like many people watch The Weather Channel.

But every one in the house -- twin sons Timber and Tyler included -- are fans of the almond cranberry brie pie, Renee said.

Monty chatted recently with The Herald-Mail about phyllo dough and creating recipes in the restaurant business.

Almond-cranberry brie pie

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 10-ounce jar almond pie filling

3/4 cup cranberry relish

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted; reserve some for garnish

1 8-ounce package of phyllo dough, about 9 inches by 14 inches

1 12-ounce piece of brie

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine eggs, vanilla, pie filling, relish and most of the almonds. Mix thoroughly.

Prepare the phyllo dough according to the package directions. Place the phyllo in an 8-inch pie pan. Cover the base with brie, then top with the fruit-and-nut mixture. Fold the sides of the phyllo over the top of the filling.

Brush the top with the egg wash and top with sliced almonds.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Can be served warm or cold.

Serves 10.

-- Courtesy of Monty R. Jones, Williamsport

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