Recipe: Lili’s Bistro’s Apricot-Jalapeño Brie
By Scott Nishimura
Photography By Nancy Farrar
Vance Martin has been in the restaurant industry for more than a minute — busing tables at 15 and eventually becoming an owner in 1988. He has owned Lili’s Bistro on Fort Worth’s West Magnolia Avenue for 16 years. Lili’s does everything from burgers to wildly popular fries — topped with Gorgonzola — seafood, fowl, pork, beef and vegetarian dishes. The day we stopped by for a chat with Martin in mid-July, he generously made us a “guinea pig” taster for that week’s dinner special: petite lamb tenderloin and cherry compote over soft rosemary polenta. Martin resists characterizations. “I decided to call it a bistro because it didn’t tie me to any style or ethnicity, which gave me permission to do what I wanted to do,” he says.
“For me, it’s about the flavor profile. It may have multiple things going on, but nothing dominates.” Martin does all the menu research and development for Lili’s, but it’s been years since he worked the line. “Once I’m done training everyone, then I’m out of it,” he says. “If I’m running the line, there’s big problems.”
Lili’s Bistro’s Apricot-Jalapeño Brie
This easy-to-make sweet and spicy accompaniment to brie is sure to please a crowd at your Friday night happy hour or dinner party. “You could use a wasabi spin on it, with fried wontons,” Martin says.
Makes enough to cover one or two 7- to 8-ounce brie wheels
• 1 cup pickled jalapeños, coarsely chopped
• 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced
• ¼-½ red pepper, diced small
• ¼ red onion, diced small
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, jarred
• 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Mix ingredients in saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer, 10-15 minutes, until flavors come together and fresh vegetables soften. Set aside.
• 1 cup apricot preserves
• ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
• ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
• ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a bowl, stir all ingredients together and mix well.
To assemble dish:
• 1 or 2 rounds brie, 7 or 8 ounces each
• ½ cup pecans, chopped
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Set the brie in the center of a heatproof bowl or a plate. Top generously with apricot mix, then the jalapeño mix. Sprinkle with pecans. Heat 5-10 minutes, depending on how soft and gooey you like your brie. Serve with water crackers, toasted baguettes or pita chips.