A Berry Good Holiday!

Appetizers / July 6, 2013

Holidays are for relaxing and avoiding all things harried, but the prospect of having a day where you don’t have to do anything, leaves one poised in front of the stove, salivating over a recipe just waiting to be unlocked. “Don’t go to too much trouble.” My host says over email. “Just a simple appetizer and dessert are fine.” These words are of course bellow to the fire of creativity. You can’t wait to begin!

Below are the two recipes I created for our Holiday. Sweet Corn Muffins Stuffed with Berries and Anise Orange Glaze, and Red Grape Relish with Goat Cheese over Toasted French Bread.

Additional menu items:


Fig and Arugula Stuffed Prosciutto courtesy Sue


Zucchini and Onion Flatbread courtesy Vicky

Sweet Corn Muffins Stuffed with Berries with Anise Orange Glaze

This recipe was inspired by one from Cooking Light which used strawberries and strawberry preserves and whipped cream. I switched up the fruit by making it with a cooked compote, and moistening the batter, and added a kick to a glaze for topping.

2 packages corn muffin mix with the ingredients called for on package
1/4 C flour
zest from one orange
1 t vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt

3 C mixed berries fresh. I used 2 parts blueberries to one part black berries.
1/2 C sugar
1 T lemon juice
1 Tbsp corn starch
(cooks down to about 2 C)

2 C powdered confectioners sugar
1 tsp anise flavored liquor (can use orange liquor or amaretto if desired or add orange juice)
2 Tbsp salted butter
pinch of salt
milk to make into the consistency of glaze

(You can top with toasted slivered almonds if desired, especially if you opted for amaretto or almond flavoring in glaze.)

Put berries in a pan with sugar and lemon juice. Cook on medium low heat until a syrup begins to form and mixture is bubbling. Let cook for 5 minutes. Take off heat and add corn starch and whisk back on medium heat until it begins to thicken. You don’t want it too thick, just a pretty consistency for cascading over your muffins when you plate the dessert. Cover with plastic and set aside.

Now. Preheat oven to temperature as recommended on box. To begin, grease a 12 cut muffin pan and set aside. Follow instructions on muffin mix pan and add all the ingredients for the muffins as shown on box, then add the extra ingredients I show, and place in tins, not more than half full. When muffins are about 4-5 minutes shy of being done, but you can see they’ve raised in the oven but still a little wet looking on top, take them out and gently bump a small indentation in each. Add 1 T of fruit mixture to each muffin then return to the oven for the remaining 3 or minutes. Corn muffins get dry and because this is a dessert you don’t want to overdo the cooking at all. When finished, take out and cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a deep cake pan so you can cool them for later. (I was transporting them to a friend’s home and this worked well.)

Now, whisk together your glaze ingredients and taste to make sure it’s not overly sweet. Add a pinch of salt if needed.

To plate, put one muffin in center of dessert plate, add 1/4 C of the berries so they cascade down each side. Then drizzle glaze over the top. Sprinkle with nuts if desired and serve immediately. They would be best warm but we liked them after being cooled. You will have to be the judge.

Red Grape Relish Appetizer with Goat Cheese on Toasted French Bread

My friend Debbie, when tasting these, declared, “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten made with red grapes.” Surely she had forgotten about a good glass of wine, but I basked in the momentary glow of uniqueness and vowed to share this recipe with you. This was inspired by a recipe from Food and Wine. I changed these only slightly by using just red grapes and not adding black and green grapes to the mix. I also included fig balsamic vinegar and served with goat cheese instead of mascarpone cheese. Plus I did toast rounds instead of ciabatta bread.


3 C red grapes, washed and cut into quarters
1 heaping Tbsp finely chopped mint
2 Tbsp finely chopped white sweet onion
2 Tbsp honey
salt and pepper
1 T fig balsamic vinegar
1 tube of fine, soft goat cheese (I used Publix brand honey goat cheese – it was perfect!)

Cut a loaf of french bread into 1/2 inch slices, brush with fine olive oil. I used a grassy version and it was perfect. Place under broiler until toasted. Set aside. Assemble relish. Place in bowl surrounded by toasts and the cheese with spreader. Stack, spread and much! YUM!!!

(Note, this IS better nice and chilled so you may want to make the bread last because it’s better warm out of the oven!)

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