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GardenSMART :: Party Time Calling

Party Time Calling

By Tommy C. Simmons, an enthusiastic cook
Photograph by Tommy C. Simmons

My husband's batch of muscadine jelly this year is our prettiest and tastiest yet. I think it's because the muscadines were late in fruiting and stayed on the vines long enough to develop more flavor and color. The wild muscadine vines growing in the treetops next door are still producing fruit and we picked a few this week to snack on.

If you are not familiar with muscadines, the wild grapes, which can be cultivated, are also known as scuppernongs and mustang grapes. The grapes have a tough skin and seed, so they are best enjoyed in juice and jelly. A muscadine product we discovered at a local farmers' market is muscadine-flavored honey.

Heavens, it is delicious. The honey producer said the beehives were placed near several muscadine vines and the flavor of the honey came from the muscadine blossoms.

I know honey can also be flavored with fruit jelly and spirits so if you don't have access to muscadine-flavored honey don't avoid making the easy Honey Brie With Nuts appetizer I'm sharing this month. This appetizer can be adapted to what you have in season. I use Georgia pecans in my version, but if I had some native Pointe Coupee pecans from New Roads, LA, I'd use those. Pistachios would work well, too, and look festive for the holidays.

You can use dried fruit of choice or even chopped fresh red grapes. Not muscadines, though, too tough, remember. This will be an appetizer you'll enjoy throughout the holidays.

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Honey Brie With Nuts is a tastes-like-more appetizer.

Home kitchen-tested recipe

Honey Brie With Nuts

Serves 8. Recipe is from Corinne Cook's "Extra! Extra! Read More About It!" cookbook.

1 (7- to 8-oz.) wheel of Brie cheese

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted pecans, walnuts or pistachios

3 tbls. dried sweetened cranberries (or raisins, sliced red grapes, etc.)

Crackers or apple slices for dipping

  1. The top rind of the Brie can be cut off or left on. Try to have the Brie at room temperature. Place on a serving dish.
  2. In small pot, heat honey over medium heat until it bubbles. Stir in nuts and cranberries.
  3. Pour warm honey and fruit over Brie. The heat will soften the cheese. Serve with crackers or sliced apples.

Testing note: You can also add 1 teaspoon of Grand Marnier to the honey as it heats, if you aren't able to find a luscious flavored honey like the muscadine honey.


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