Here is an appetizer that is fast, looks good, tastes great and will surpise your guests. The method is this: think of clam chowder in a bread bowl. Here we use a 20-ounce brie as the bread round, and add porcini.
ounce round brie
2 T dried porcini mushrooms, soaked
Choose the small odd-shaped dried porcini that are at the bottom of the bag when you've taken out the larger pieces for fancier dishes. Or use a combination of shitake and porcini. Soak for 20 minutes in water. Remove, rinse off any grit you feel, chop fine with a sharp knife so it's not mushy.
While the mushrooms rehydrate, unwrap the brie. With a tableknife, scrape and discard the papery covering from the entire outside of the brie. With a sharp knife, carefully cut a 'lid' from one flat side of the brie, like cutting the top from a pumpkin. Leave only 1/2 inch border around the edge. Slide the knife under the lid and cut it away from the cheese inside. Set aside.
With a spoon, scoop out the cheese inside the brie, leaving an even 1/2 inch shell. Take care not to gouge the shell. Put the scooped out cheese in a microwave bowl, cook on high for approximately 20 seconds, until soft, but not runny. Too long and the oily ooze begins. With a fork, work the brie until smooth, then add the chopped porcini until uniformly mixed.
Spoon cheese and porcini mixture back into the brie shell, pat down firmly so it's flat again. Add 'lid' and wrap in plastic wrap tightly. Refrigerate about 4 hours or overnight to let the flavor of the porcini permeate the cheese.
To serve, place unwrapped cheese cut side down, allow to warm to room temperature. Serve with baguette or crostini, along with a glass of Mafalda.