Tuesday, December 20, 2011

cheesy grapes

I like it best when parties have themes.

(I also like games at parties, but since I seem to be the only adult on the planet who feels that way, let's just keep that to ourselves, shall we?)

So, our friends Catherine and Guthrie had a Christmas open house this weekend and the theme was 60s finger food.

60s finger food!

Genius. Catherine had a big pot of fondue simmering, we drank mulled wine, we ate deviled eggs and tiny skewers of salami and pickle, and so many girls wore cute 60s dresses. (Wish I'd thought of that.)

I did think long and hard about my contribution and ended up with cheesy grapes. (The title alone – are you hooked yet? I bet you're just skipping on down to the recipe now, desperate to make them.)

I first ate these at a Christmas party seven years ago. They were crunchy and juicy and creamy and salty and somehow it all worked. Luckily, my friend Hilary is generous with recipes and she shared it with me. Turns out, it's originally from Canadian Living magazine, which is always a good source of retro and old-fashioned recipes.

The grapes are smothered in a creamy mixture of blue cheese, cream cheese, garlic and ground ginger. This sounds odd, but you'll just have to trust me. And really, can you go wrong with blue cheese and nuts on anything? (Although I do find I always have to eat quite few as I'm rolling them, just to – you know – make sure they're still tasty.)

I did stick a toothpick in each cheesy grape for the party. After many years of trial and error, I've learned that you have to make it easy for people to try your odd-looking potluck dish. After all, no one wants blue-cheesy hands when they're meeting new people.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 Last December: tipsy rum balls

note: almonds only stay crunchy for so long – try to make this no more than a few hours before your party

cheesy grapes
slightly adapted from Canadian Living

114 g. (4 oz. or 1/2 c.) cream cheese
24 g. (7/8 oz. or 1/4 c.) blue cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
60 seedless red grapes
1 1/2 c. roasted almonds, chopped finely

Wash the grapes and dry them thoroughly. (I liked a clean tea towel for this.) Set aside.

Put the almonds in a small bowl – big enough for the nuts to move around, small enough to easily roll a grape. Set aside.

Cream the cream cheese, blue cheese and mayonnaise together. Stir in garlic and ginger. Carefully stir the grapes in, so that each grape is coated. Roll each cheese-covered grape in the almonds. Place them in a single layer on your serving dish. Poke a toothpick in each one for easy handling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until your party starts.

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