FAMILY FEATURES — Holiday elegance begins at the table with meals, desserts and drinks shared among loved ones. This year, let grapes add an easy elegance to seasonal recipes as a signature ingredient perfect for special occasions.
Find more sweet ideas for celebrating the holidays at GrapesfromCalifornia.com.
Braised Pork Chops with Spiced Honey and Grapes
4 thick pork chops (about 3 pounds)
4 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups whole California red or black grapes
1/3 cup honey
2 small cinnamon sticks, broken
3-5 whole teeth
1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat a saucepan or sauté pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Dust the pork chops with flour and slowly brown them in melted butter. Don’t let the flour burn.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the grapes, honey, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt and pepper. Cover and place in the oven. Slowly braise for 50 to 60 minutes, or until pork is tender. Remove pork from pan and keep warm. Remove the sauce from the pan of excess fat. Arrange the pork chops on a serving platter, pour over the sauce, and sprinkle with chopped mint, if desired.
Basque cheesecake with grapes
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus chilling and chilling
Baking time: 40 minutes
2 cups California green grapes, divided
1/4 cup, plus 2/3 cup, granulated sugar, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large pinches of kosher salt
21 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup cold heavy cream
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack in the center. Use a 12-by-16-inch sheet of parchment paper to line a 9-inch springform pan in the center. Press the paper down at the bottom edge of the pan and smooth out any wrinkles around the sides. Place the dish on a shallow baking sheet.
In a mini blender or food processor, blend 1 cup grapes, 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese and remaining sugar until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually pour in heavy cream; scrape and beat on high speed until mixture resembles smooth whipped cream, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down between additions. On medium speed, gradually add grape puree mixture; scrape and mix until well blended, 1 minute.
Pour batter into prepared pan, transfer to oven, and bake 38 to 40 minutes until cake is puffed and top is caramel golden brown. Cracks will appear around the edges and the cake will wobble when gently touched with your finger. Place the cake pan on a baking sheet set on a wire rack to cool. The cake will sink to half its height. Cool at room temperature, 1-2 hours, then refrigerate uncovered. Do not remove the cake from the pan until it is very cold, at least 5 hours or overnight.
Cut the remaining grapes into halves or slices. In a small bowl, combine the grapes with the orange liqueur, if desired, and set aside. When ready to serve, remove the side of the pan. Carefully remove crumpled parchment from side of cheesecake then transfer to serving plate by removing parchment from bottom of cake and under pan while gently pulling cake onto plate and parchment. Garnish the top of the cheesecake with the grape liqueur mixture, if desired, or with fresh grapes. Cut the cake into wedges with a thin, sharp knife.
Spicy Grape Cider
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 1 hour
5 cups California red grapes, plus additional for garnish, divided
3 cups of water
1 tablespoon honey
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise (optional)
1 large navel orange
6 ounces of amber rum
In a large saucepan, combine 5 cups of the grapes with water, honey, cinnamon, and star anise, if desired. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until grapes are tender, 50-60 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.
Place a medium mesh strainer over the bowl and pour in the grape mixture. Press gently on the solids to remove the juice from the fruit for about 2 cups of grape cider.
Using a peeler, remove the orange zest into large strips and add to the warm juice. Let cool, cover and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, gently heat the cider over medium heat. Pour 1/2 cup of cider into each cup. Add 1 1/2 ounces of rum and garnish with an orange twist and a small skewer of grapes.