Holiday Recipes from Barbara Kobsar’s Cottage Kitchen


Barbara Kobsar has been writing Edible East Bay’s What’s in Season column almost since we started publishing in 2005, but her main gig is making jams from farmers’ market produce and selling them each week at the Walnut Creek and San Ramon farmers’ markets. Following are several recipes she created to enhance our holiday party tables.

Artwork by Charmaine Koehler-Lodge

Cottage Kitchen’s Red Pepper Brie

1 round of Brie cheese (approximately 8 ounces, but use any size you prefer and adjust the ingredients accordingly to fit the cheese)
4 ounces Red Pepper Jelly from the Cottage Kitchen
1–2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil plus whole leaves for garnish
Score the top of the cheese. Place in an ovenproof dish. Spoon the pepper jelly on the Brie and sprinkle with chopped basil. Bake at 350° for about 5 minutes until the cheese is warm and slightly soft. Remove from the oven and garnish with whole basil leaves if desired. Serve immediately with mini-bagel, assorted crackers, or a baguette.
Other ideas: Mix equal parts red pepper jelly and mayo to serve with crab cakes or pork tenderloin, tuck a little in an omelette, use as a shrimp dip, add to sandwiches or serve as an accompaniment with chicken or roast beef.
Cottage Kitchen’s Baked Brie with Pepper Jelly or Pear Jam

Serve with crackers or sliced baguette. Garnish the tray with fresh, in-season fruit.
One 8-ounce wheel of baby Brie
½ pound puff pastry, thawed for about 40 minutes at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Peach Pepper Jelly, Jalapeno Pepper Jelly, or Pear Jam
1 egg white mixed with 2 teaspoons cold water
Preheat oven to 400°. Gently unfold puff pastry, mending any broken spots. Cut the Brie in half lengthwise and place one half, rind side down, in the middle of the pastry. Spread with jelly and place the other half of the brie, rind up, on the cheese. Trim excess pastry as necessary and then fold it over the cheese, sealing the edges. Place seam down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. If desired, decorate the brie with decorative shapes cut from the excess dough and brush with the egg white/water mixture. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Cottage Kitchen’s Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies
½ cup butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, separated
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or coconut, or a combination
½ cup of your favorite Cottage Kitchen jam
Cream butter until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg yolk. Add sugar and beat until light and creamy. Add flour and baking powder. Mix until well blended.
Roll into small balls about 1 inch in diameter. Beat egg white until foamy. Dip balls into egg white. Roll in chopped nuts.
Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Make a small depression in the center of each using your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon.
Bake at 325° for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, deepen depression with the end of a wooden spoon, and return cookies to oven to cook an additional 5 to 8 minutes until lightly browned. Cool and then fill depressions with jam.