It’s never too late for dreams to come true, y’all! As a former teacher, I love showing people how to do things. Talking, teaching and sharing is hard-wired in my DNA. My Mom was a teacher, my Dad was a college professor, my grandmother taught music and Grandpa? Well, grandpa was a sailor. That might explain a few things about me too. Ha! So anyway, when I got an email a few months ago, asking if I were interested in doing a demo for the Orange County Fair, I jumped at the opportunity! How cool would it be to share the Culinary Stage with some true culinary masters?
Oh my gosh, I was so excited! Then my brain kicked in and I had to think about recipes! What to make? How to share? Prayers to the Gods of Culinary Wisdom were said repeatedly. My wonderful friends at Melissa’s Produce were exceptionally generous and provided the majority of fresh ingredients for all my demos! (Thank you Robert!!!)
For the first demo, I focused on Grapes! They are at their peak during the summer and were a perfect fit for the Fair. Melissa’s produce sent Champagne Grapes, Jelly Drop Grapes and three different colors of Muscato Grapes for me to use. I made recipes with all three!
The first recipe was this Creamy Grape Salad with Candied Walnuts! I have fond memories of this from my childhood. It uses Muscato grapes – any color is beautiful in this recipe! Grandma would bring this salad to church potlucks and it always disappeared very quickly. Summer wouldn’t be the same without this on the table for family gatherings!
Creamy Grape Salad with Candied Walnuts
- For Candied Walnuts:
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- For the Grape Salad:
- 8 oz Sour Cream
- 8 oz Cream Cheese softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 TBLS vanilla extract
- 8 cups seedless Muscato grapes preferably red and green (about 2 1/2 pounds)
- To prepare walnuts:
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Line a small baking pan with parchment paper or foil; coat with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a small bowl, toss walnuts with water.
- Sprinkle with brown sugar and salt and toss to coat.
- Transfer to the prepared pan.
- Bake at 400 until the sugar is melted and the nuts are barely starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Cool in the pan until the sugar hardens, about 6 minutes.
- To prepare Grape Salad:
- Combine sour cream, cream cheese, honey and vanilla in a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.
- Transfer to a large bowl and add grapes. Stir gently to combine.
- Transfer to a serving dish.
- Crumble the candied walnuts on top of the salad just before serving.
Thanks to all these wonderful folks who were in attendance at the OC Fair and came to my Great Grape Demo! Y’all were awesome!
Stay tuned for the rest of the Grape recipes and more Fair pictures too!
Here are some additional fun facts from the Melissa’s website about the Muscato Grapes used in this recipe:
Melissa’s Muscato grapes vary in color from green to red to black and are hybrids of some very special seedless grape varieties. They make a perfect summer snack with their crisp texture and mouthwatering, juicy interior. Muscato Grapes are much sweeter than the average grape, measuring at a brix (sweetness) level of at least 22 compared to the average grape brix of about 16.
Toss Muscato Grapes into a summer fruit salad, add to your favorite sauce, or, one of my favorite ways to eat them, right out of your hand. These delectable summer treats are a great addition to any dessert too!