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Autumn Berry Tapioca Parfaits & Caramelized Onion and Brie Croissants at Grace-Marie’s Kitchen

Posted By Lynne On September 23, 2010 @ 11:42 pm In Appetizers, Breakfast and Brunch, Desserts and Pastry, Grace-Marie's Kitchen | 7 Comments

The theme for the Saturday Afternoon Tea class this week at Grace-Marie’s Kitchen at Bristol Farms in Manhattan Beach was Back to School Autumn Tea. I had never been to one of her Saturday Teas before, but I was looking forward to it because she said this was the class where everyone laughed a lot. Also, the regular lunch classes have three to four dishes, but all of the Tea Classes have six recipes. This week the menu was Apple and Cheddar Bread, End of Summer Zucchini Soup, Caramelized Onion and Brie Croissants, Smoked Salmon Tomato Cups, Autumn Harvest Brandy Pear Cake and Autumn Berry Tapioca Parfaits. It smelled so good in the kitchen when I walked in. Yum.

I was also looking forward to being there so Grace-Marie and I could dance a little jig, because Bristol Farms, at long last, put a link on their Cooking School web page to my blog. So now anyone perusing the class schedule on Bristol Farms can click over to my website and check out all the posts about Grace-Marie’s classes. We had been waiting months for this to happen. Very exciting. Yea! Check it out!

Grace-Marie pins up the six recipes on a cork board right next to where she is cooking. The class room is just like going to her home kitchen. There is cooking art all over in the room and it feels so friendly. In fact, at the end of the class, one of the students said to me, “I just love coming here. I love the way I feel when I’m here with Grace-Marie.” Aaaw…

Grace-Marie started out with the Autumn Berry Tapioca Parfaits so they would be finished and cooled by the end of the class. The important thing about the Parfaits when making the strawberry – cranberry concoction is not to use cranberry jelly, but get the sauce with the whole cranberries in it. This dessert was so delicious with the bright berry sauce topped with the vanilla flavored tapioca and whipped cream. I loved being served and eating this dish in a martini glass. It was like red jewels encased in crystal.

Next Grace-Marie prepared the onions for the Caramelized Onion and Brie Croissants. The onions and garlic were cooked until translucent and then covered with apple juice, along with brown sugar, rosemary and thyme. Then it was cooked slowly for about an hour until reduced and caramelized. While it was cooling, the mini croissants were sliced in half lengthwise and baked about 10 minutes until crisp. Then pieces of Brie were placed on each slice and topped with a generous spoonful of the caramelized onions, and baked until the cheese melted. Ooozy Brie cheese, crispy croissant, and sweet savory onion jam. Oh man. These were to die for.

Because all of the recipes at this Tea Class were so wonderful, I am going to do three posts total. Two recipes per post. Next will Apple and Cheddar Bread, and  Autumn Harvest Brandy Pear Cake. So stay tuned.

For additional recipes from Grace-Marie’s Kitchen, look under Categories in the right-hand column.

Grace-Marie Johnston

For more information about the cooking classes visit Grace-Marie online at Bristol Farms or email her at gmj@bristolfarms.com.

Autumn Berry Parfaits

Serves 8

6 cups strawberries, cleaned and quartered
1 can whole cranberry sauce, not jelly
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon kosher salt

1. Using a food processor and working in batches, pulse the strawberries to roughly chop. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cranberries, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Chill until ready to assemble.

4 cups water
1 cup small tapioca pearls (not instant)
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1. Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in the tapioca, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it is translucent (15 minute). Stir in the cream, vanilla, sugar, nutmeg and salt. Cook, stirring, until the tapioca is cooked through (5 minutes). Transfer the mixture to a bowl, bring to room temperature to thicken.


1. Divide the berry mixture into wine goblets or martini glasses. Top with the tapioca mixture. Chill 15 minutes before serving. (Note – cover, refrigerate and when ready to serve set them at room temperature for 30 minutes).

1 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped
To garnish – mint sprigs

Top with a spoonful of the cream and a mint sprig.

Carmelized Onion and Brie Croissants

Serves 8

Onion Jam
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cups red and brown onion (mixed), diced medium
¼ cup garlic, thinly sliced
3+ cups apple juice or cider
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 raglespoon rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon thyme, minced
To season – kosher or sea salt & ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1. Warm the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, just until tender (3 minutes). Stir in the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, until translucent (5 minutes).

2. Stir in the apple juice using just enough to cover the mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and stir in the brown sugar, rosemary and thyme. Slowly cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has the consistency of jam (45 minutes or longer).

Note: Throughout this process it is important to add more apple juice to the skillet to avoid browning the mixture. This may be needed several times as it evaporates and the mixture caramelizes.

3. Once cooked, cool in the skillet then stir in the balsamic vinegar and parsley. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

8 mini-croissants, cut in half lengthwise
8+ ounces Brie cheese, chilled then thinly sliced with the rind on

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Arrange the croissant halves on the baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted (10 minutes).

3. Top each croissant half with some of the brie. Add a generous spoonful of the caramelized onions on top.

4. Bake until the cheese begins to melt (5 minutes).


To garnish – flat leaf parsley, chopped

Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with additional parsley.

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