Ex­cel­lent En­ter­tain­ing

El­e­gant ideas for a meal worth cel­e­brat­ing

The Oakdale Leader - - NEWS -

De­light­ing guests in un­ex­pected ways is the hall­mark of ex­cep­tional en­ter­tain­ing. With a lit­tle creative flair, you can el­e­vate your menu to im­press guests with ev­ery course.

A sa­vory ap­pe­tizer is set off beau­ti­fully by fresh, sweet grapes in this Grape and Goat Cheese Cros­tini. Fes­tive, bright and re­fresh­ing, grapes are a ver­sa­tile in­gre­di­ent that take dishes to the next level, mak­ing them ideal for spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

Not only are grapes a smart choice to keep on hand for healthy snack­ing and ev­ery­day eat­ing, the vi­brant col­ors and fla­vors bring ex­tra life to a ba­sic pro­tein. For a unique twist on a main dish, try dress­ing up chicken with an el­e­gant ad­di­tion like fresh grapes, as in th­ese Seared Chicken Breasts with Grapes and Ar­ti­chokes.

The se­cret to a win­ning dessert is pre­sen­ta­tion, and the vi­brant col­ors of red, green or black grapes lend just the right look to th­ese tasty Mini Pavlo­vas with Lemon Cream and Grapes. What’s more, the juicy sweet­ness off­sets the tart­ness of the lemon for an ex­plo­sion of fla­vor per­fec­tion.

Plan your next spe­cial oc­ca­sion with the host of recipes at Grapes­fromCal­i­for­nia.com.

Grape and Goat Cheese Cros­tini Serves: 8

2 cups quar­tered green, black or red Cal­i­for­nia grapes (or a mix­ture) 2 tea­spoons lemon juice 2 tea­spoons honey 1 ta­ble­spoon chopped fresh thyme leaves 1/4 tea­spoon kosher salt 1/4 tea­spoon freshly ground black pep­per 1 ta­ble­spoon ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil 16 baguette slices, thinly cut on di­ag­o­nal 8 ounces fresh goat cheese

In medium bowl, com­bine grapes, lemon juice, honey, thyme, salt, pep­per and olive oil. Spread each baguette with goat cheese and top with grape mix­ture.

Nu­tri­tional in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 200 calo­ries; 9 g pro­tein; 23 g car­bo­hy­drates; 8 g fat (36 per­cent calo­ries from fat); 4.5 g sat­u­rated fat (20 per­cent calo­ries from sat­u­rated fat); 15 mg choles­terol; 340 mg sodium; 1 g fiber.

Seared Chicken Breasts with Grapes and Ar­ti­chokes Serves: 4

2 bone­less, skin­less chicken breasts (8 ounces each), but­ter­flied length­wise into 4 cut­lets salt, to taste pep­per, to taste 2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil, di­vided 2 cloves gar­lic, minced 1 leek, white part only, halved and thinly sliced 2 ta­ble­spoons chopped fresh oregano 1 1/2 cups quar­tered ar­ti­choke hearts, frozen, canned or jarred 1/2 cup dry white wine 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock 1 ta­ble­spoon lemon juice 1/2 tea­spoon lemon zest 2 tea­spoons but­ter 3/4 cup green Cal­i­for­nia grapes 3/4 cup red Cal­i­for­nia grapes 2 ta­ble­spoons chopped flat-leaf pars­ley

Sea­son chicken breasts with salt and pep­per, to taste. In saute pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 ta­ble­spoon olive oil. Add chicken breasts and sear 3-4 min­utes per side. Re­move chicken and set aside.

Add re­main­ing olive oil to pan, along with gar­lic, leek and pinch of salt; cook on medium heat 2-3 min­utes to soften leek. Stir in oregano, ar­ti­chokes, wine, chicken stock, lemon juice, lemon zest and but­ter. Sim­mer 2-3 min­utes then add chicken back to pan, bast­ing each breast with sauce. Add grapes and sim­mer 3-5 min­utes, or un­til grapes are just soft and chicken is cooked through.

Stir in fresh pars­ley and serve.

Nu­tri­tional in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 320 calo­ries; 26 g pro­tein; 23 g car­bo­hy­drates; 12 g fat (34 per­cent calo­ries from fat); 3 g sat­u­rated fat (8 per­cent calo­ries from sat­u­rated fat); 70 mg choles­terol; 390 mg sodium; 5 g fiber.

Mini Pavlo­vas with Lemon Cream and Grapes Serves: 6

4 large egg whites pinch of salt 1 cup su­gar 2 tea­spoons corn­starch 1 tea­spoon vanilla 2/3 cup heavy whip­ping cream 1/3 cup lemon curd 1 1/2 cups halved Cal­i­for­nia grapes chopped smoked or tamari al­monds (op­tional)

Heat oven to 350 F. Line bak­ing sheet with parch­ment paper. With electric mixer on medium speed, in large bowl, beat egg whites and salt un­til firm peaks form. On low speed, add su­gar 1 ta­ble­spoon at a time un­til meringue forms stiff peaks. Whisk in corn­starch and vanilla.

Di­vide meringue into six 4-inch cir­cles on bak­ing sheet. With large spoon, make in­den­ta­tions in mid­dle of each. Place bak­ing sheet in oven and lower tem­per­a­ture to 300 F. Bake 30 min­utes then turn off oven and leave bak­ing sheet in­side an­other 30 min­utes. To serve, whip cream to soft peaks and stir in lemon curd. Dol­lop onto meringues and top with grapes. Gar­nish with al­monds, if de­sired.

Nu­tri­tional in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 350 calo­ries; 4 g pro­tein; 58 g car­bo­hy­drates; 12 g fat (31 per­cent calo­ries from fat); 8 g sat­u­rated fat (20 per­cent calo­ries from sat­u­rated fat); 55 mg choles­terol; 90 mg sodium.

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