SOURCE: California Table Grapes

October 31, 2013 05:00 ET

Holiday Buffets Taste and Look More Festive With Grapes

MISSION, KS--(Marketwired - Oct 31, 2013) - (Family Features) Clusters of colorful grapes are traditional additions to many holiday tables. Whether they are used for a centerpiece, a garnish for the main course (think turkey, crown roast of pork, baked ham) or a "must" addition to a fruit and cheese plate, grapes offer beauty, flavor and freshness to the season.

But there are many other ways to add grapes to special meals and party fare. The recipes included here are easy-to-make, beautiful and tasty examples of unique ways to prepare and serve grapes. Luckily, many varieties of fresh grapes from California are available throughout the holiday season and into January. For more recipes and serving suggestions, visit www.grapesfromcalifornia.com.

Grape Tuxedo Bites, 3 Ways
Sometimes, the amount of cookies and other sweets served during the holidays can be overwhelming. Grape Tuxedo Bites 3 Ways are the exception. These three recipes, featuring white and dark chocolate, caramel, toffee bits, almonds and peanuts, are definitely rich, but because the center of each is a refreshing, juicy grape, they avoid being overly sweet.

Chocolate Toffee Grapes
Makes 25

  25   green or red seedless California grapes
  1/2   cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
  1   teaspoon vegetable oil
  1/2   cup finely chopped toffee bits

Put toothpicks into grapes, set aside. Line baking sheet with wax paper or parchment.
In small double boiler, melt chocolate and oil together over medium-low heat, stirring until melted, about 5 minutes (or in microwave on high power 30 seconds, stirring once). Dip grapes in chocolate and then in toffee. Place on baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment. Repeat until all grapes are used. Chill until set.

Nutritional analysis per dipped grape: Calories 47; Protein .5 g; Carbohydrate 6 g; Fat 3 g; 48% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 2 mg; Sodium 20 mg; Potassium 22 mg; Fiber .24 g

White Chocolate Almond Grapes
Makes 25

  25   green or red seedless California grapes
  1/2   cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
  1   teaspoon vegetable oil
  1/2   cup finely chopped salted almonds

Put toothpicks into grapes, set aside. Line baking sheet with wax paper or parchment.
In small double boiler, melt chocolate and oil together over medium-low heat, stirring until melted, about 5 minutes (or in microwave on high power 30 seconds, stirring once). Dip grapes in chocolate and then in almonds. Place on baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment. Repeat until all grapes are used. Chill until set.

Nutritional analysis per dipped grape: Calories 48; Protein 1 g; Carbohydrate 4 g; Fat 3.5 g; 61% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol .71 mg; Sodium 17 mg; Potassium 49 mg; Fiber .5 g

Caramel Peanut Grapes
Makes 25

  25   green seedless California grapes
  1/2   cup finely chopped salted peanuts
  1/2   cup caramel bits or 10 unwrapped caramels
  1   tablespoon heavy cream

Put toothpicks into grapes, set aside. Line baking sheet with parchment. Place peanuts in small bowl and set aside. In small saucepan, melt caramel and cream together over medium-low heat, stirring until melted, about 5 minutes. Keep warm. Dip grapes in caramel and then in nuts. Place on baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment. Repeat until all grapes are used. Chill until set.

Note: You can also melt caramel in microwave. Put caramels in microwaveable bowl or glass measure and zap on high 30 seconds. Stir until smooth and zap an additional 20 seconds if necessary.

Nutritional analysis per dipped grape: Calories 38; Protein 1 g; Carbohydrate 4.5 g; Fat 2 g; 46% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 1 mg; Sodium 19 mg; Potassium 8 mg; Fiber .3 g

Grape Relish
For a small holiday party, a festive assortment of cheeses, meats, breads and crackers is an easy solution. This pretty Grape Relish provides the perfect foil to the rich assortment, combining sweet, tart and aromatic elements. The relish is also a wonderful accompaniment to poultry dishes, too.

Servings: 8

  2   cups finely chopped red and green seedless California grapes
  2   tablespoons minced shallot
  2   teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  1   tablespoon sherry vinegar
  1 1/2   teaspoons sugar
  1   teaspoon safflower or vegetable oil
  1/4   teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper
  1   baguette, sliced thinly

In medium bowl, combine chopped grapes, shallot, thyme, vinegar, sugar, oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to small serving bowl and set aside. Makes 2 cups. To make crostini, preheat oven to 350°F. Spread baguette slices on baking sheet and toast until crisp, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Nutritional analysis per 1/4 cup grape relish: Calories 27; Protein .3 g; Carbohydrate 6 g; Fat .63 g; 19% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 74 mg; Potassium 57 mg; Fiber .3 g

Suggested buffet platter selections to accompany relish: Crostini, ham, sliced duck breast, pâtés, additional grape clusters, assorted mustards in small condiment bowls or custard cups and cheeses, such as St. Andre, Manchego, aged cheddar or goat cheese.

Grape Roquefort Canapés
The welcome combination of grapes, cheese and nuts on holiday buffet platters is fairly common, but these tasty Grape Roquefort Canapés roll all three altogether in one simple bite-sized serving. Creamy cheeses, with the distinctive bite of Roquefort, the juicy sweetness of grapes, the crunch of nuts and the anise hint from the tarragon are just the kind of easy-to-eat appetizer that quickly satisfies without being heavy. Plus, they're very elegant.

Makes 20

  1/4   cup cream cheese, softened
  1/4   cup crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese, at room temperature
  1/4   cup heavy cream
  1   tablespoon chopped tarragon
  20   red seedless California grapes
  1/3   cup finely chopped toasted pistachios or toasted walnuts

Line small baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper. Set aside. In small food processor (or mix by hand), combine cream cheese, Roquefort, heavy cream and tarragon until well mixed. Transfer to medium bowl and stir in grapes. Put nuts in small bowl. With tablespoon, scoop up grape and gently coat in cheese mixture. Roll in nuts and place on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours and serve.

Goat Cheese Variation: Substitute 1/4 cup soft goat cheese for Roquefort; 1/4 cup finely cut chives for tarragon; and 1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans for pistachios.

Nutritional analysis per canapé: Calories 42; Protein .9 g; Carbohydrate 1.4 g; Fat 4 g; 79% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 9 mg; Sodium 34 mg; Potassium 30 mg; Fiber .2 g

Set a sparkling table with frosted grapes

Set amid a selection of other treats, frosted grapes make quite an impression. Delicate, but ever so tempting, these easy-to-make beauties are also a lovely garnish atop cakes and custards.

Frosted Grapes

  2   pounds seedless California grapes, cut into 2- to 4-inch clusters
  2   large egg whites, beaten or 1/4 cup pasteurized liquid egg whites
  1   cup superfine granulated sugar

Hold one grape cluster by the stem and brush lightly with egg whites. Transfer to rack set over wax paper, then sprinkle with sugar. Using fingers, turn cluster to lightly coat. Gently shake off excess sugar. Repeat with remaining clusters. Let grapes dry, uncovered, at room temperature, about 2 hours.

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