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Candied walnuts, fruit salsa add flavor to these tasty, unique brie quesadillas

Brie Quesadillas
March 16, 2005 - By BILL MILLIGAN

For the Mail Call

Every parent learns to shove something in front of their children when they're hungry — something other than a bowl of cereal.

Quesadillas were one of my favorite alternatives because my son would let me experiment with ingredients more with them than any other dish I whipped together. It was a great way to get him to eat fruit and vegetables he would have otherwise turned his nose up at. The candied Walnuts and tropical fruit salsa add a sweet flavor children can enjoy.

This tropical fruit salsa is a spin off of the salsas I started making after buying Diane Kennedy's "Cuisines of Mexico'' cookbook. After I found Reeser's Salsa available in my supermarket, I quit trying to make them from scratch.

I still use the techniques in Kennedy's book to make fresh fruit combinations, which I use in desserts and ingredients in other dishes.

Tropical Fruit Salsa

1 small can diced pineapple

Fruit of one peeled, cored mango

Fruit of one peeled, seeded papaya

1 red bell pepper, diced

Half a bunch of cilantro, chopped

Juice of one lime

1 serrano chile, seeded, minced

Toss all ingredients in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

I made the candied walnuts nuts originally to take to an office Christmas party or something. I've used them as finger food or an ingredient to any dish I feel like jazzing up. They're simple and quick. Just make sure you don't stray too far from the kitchen while you're making them. If they burn, they're ruined.

Candied Walnuts

1 cup walnut halves

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Combine nuts and syrup in bowl; toss to coat.

Spread nuts in even layer on baking sheet. Bake until browned and dry, stirring often, about 22 minutes.

Cool. Remove from foil. Pulse in blen-der. Can be made three days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

With the salsa and walnuts ready, you have all the ingredients for Brie Quesadil-las, at least the ingredients in my recipe.

Brie Quesadillas

Butter, room temperature

8 8-inch flour tortillas

1 pound Brie, rind trimmed,

cut into ˝-inch cubes

24 fresh cilantro sprigs

1 cup candied maple walnuts

Tropical fruit salsa

Butter tortillas on one side and place buttered side down on pizza pan, or baking dish. Top with cheese, cilantro and nuts. Add another tortilla and butter top. Can be made a day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Working in batches, cook tortillas in heavy skillet over medium heat until golden, about one minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Cut in pizza wedges to serve. Top with tropical fruit salsa.

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