The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

July 13, 2013

COOKING WITH SIMON: Grapes, wine and Christmas cheeseĀ 

By SIMON WEBSTER
Palestine Herald-Press

— To be perfectly honest, I haven’t been spending much time in the kitchen lately. In case you haven’t heard I planted a vineyard a few years ago and this year will be the first grape harvest.

I’ve been splitting my time between the vineyard and the kitchen and both places are equally demanding. All these years I have been watching the vines and wondering everyday if they would actually produce fruit, and maybe, just maybe, we can eventually make some wine.

The grapes are here and the wine is the next step. And to celebrate the grape harvest, we have planned a week of events that include a celebration dinner, cooking demonstration, grape stomp and wine and cheese on the deck.

So all this talk about grapes means my mind isn’t really on food. Instead, I am thinking about the clusters of red grapes that are ripening on the vines. Everything is in order, and we’re going to have a great time, but like all new experiences you tend to be a bit anxious.

Like the day I first started high school, dressed in my new uniform, and my head was full of excitement for all the new learning experiences I would have. Now I find myself learning how to grow grapes and make wine. Life’s lessons never end.

So when I think of wine and grapes, the first food that comes to mind is cheese.  This week’s recipe is one that I wrote about last Christmas.

It’s one of my favorites, no mater the time of year.

Speaking of Christmas, Palestine is celebrating Christmas in July. Another reason to enjoy this recipe. Christmas, grape stomp, wine harvest or any day – it’s always a good day to enjoy cheese. For more information about the Sabor a Pasion harvest activities go to www.saborapasion.com or call me at 903-729-9500.

 

 ALMOND-CRUSTED BRANDY CHEESE BALL

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese

1 tablespoon brandy

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups sliced almonds

2 green onions thinly sliced


 

Directions

Place cream cheese in a bowl. Add brandy and orange juice and mix well. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Add the green onions and mix until all ingredients are combined. Place sliced almonds on a cutting board. Spoon cream cheese onto middle of almonds then roll until the cream cheese is completely covered and formed into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. 

If you like a bit of spice add a few chili flakes or a few shakes of tabasco sauce.

———

Simon Webster is the Executive Chef of Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro a multi-faceted dining destination just outside Palestine. For more information go to www.saborapasion.com or call 903-729-9500.