Spirited Fruit and Cheese Hors d’Oeuvres from Grace-Marie’s Kitchen at Bristol Farms

by Lynne on February 10, 2011

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Spirited Fruit&Cheese Hors d'Oeuvres

This tasty appetizer was served as part of an Afternoon Tea which also included Holiday Sweet Potato and Turkey Empanadas, Roasted Pear and Blue Cheese Salad, Green Onion Scones, Toffee Pumpkin Bars and Chocolate Pecan Praline Tassies. Grace-Marie has a wonderful ability for creating a medley of dishes that work together and totally satisfy your taste buds and your holiday menu.

The dried fruit for these appetizers is cooked with apple cider and Port wine until they are soft and luscious. The Cheddar cheese spread that tops the wheat crackers is tangy and spicy with Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard and hot sauce. This is a starter worthy of any brunch, tea or dinner party.

Spirited Fruit Matrix

I had been attending Grace-Marie’s classes at Bristol Farms for about 14 years, way before I decided to create my food blog. I sat at the tables in front of her work counter and stove, totally enjoying her recipes and charismatic presentation. Grace-Marie is one of those people who is smart and funny, and you wish she was your best friend. But one of the mysteries of the kitchen was the back room, from which emanated the hustle and bustle of cooking assistants and the plated dishes. I really wanted to know what was back there in that room, but it would have been the height of impropriety to walk back and look into that private, off-limits place.

So now, as I have the run of the entire Kitchen, I can reveal to you the mysteries of the back room. That is, if you haven’t seen it and are dying to know.

Kitchen Matrix 2

This little room is a paradigm of organization, with every space neatly occupied. I would bet that Grace-Marie could find whatever she needed in the dark. Also, all the white china plates, bowls and cups are stacked up neatly in a floor to ceiling closet that takes up one whole wall. In the middle of the room is a cloth covered platform, upon which the food is plated. I think I would like Grace-Marie to come and organize my closets and maybe my garage. Definitely the garage.

Kitchen Matrix 1

For additional recipes from Grace-Marie’s Kitchen, look under Categories in the right-hand column.

Grace-Marie Johnston

Grace-Marie Johnston

For more information about the new schedule of cooking classes, visit Grace-Marie online at Bristol Farms or email her at gmj@bristolfarms.com.

Print Recipe Print Recipe

Spirited Fruit and Cheese Hors d’Oeuvres

Serves 8

3 cups mixed dried fruit (any variety), diced small
1 cup apple cider
1/3 cup Port wine

1. Combine the fruit, cider and wine in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat. Cool until most of the liquid has been absorbed (15+ minutes). Drain well.

2 8oz boxes cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon Dry Mustard
1 tablespoon Hot Sauce (any favorite)

2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese (or any favorite), shredded
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup chives, minced

1. Using an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese, cream, Worcestershire, mustard and hot sauce.

2. Stir in the Cheddar, parsley and chives. Cover and refrigerate until firm (4 hours).

1 box wheat crackers (any favorite)
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1. Using a small ice cream scooper (or teaspoon), top each cracker with the cheese. Garnish with the dried fruit and parsley. Arrange onto a platter and serve.

Note: The cheese mixture can be rolled into a ball and rolled in chopped nuts for a cheese plate. It can be used to stuff pears, placed under the skin of roasted chicken or on cucumber rounds.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lentil Breakdown February 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm

What’s Grace Marie’s home phone number? I need her to clear out my office! Hopefully she’ll bring some of these beautiful fruit and cheese hors d’oeuvres with her.

Magic of Spice February 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Wow, now that is organized…these fruit and cheese appetizers look wonderful!

Lana February 12, 2011 at 1:17 am

I am always so drawn to small bites, so unassuming, easy to eat and tasty. Those look very interesting – I bet that the flavors play along wonderfully.
Lovely photo, Lynne:)

Kathryn Benson February 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Oh my goodness…I lived in Palos Verdes Estates until 1993 and remember well when the Bristol Farms store opened in Rolling Hills. I think I was there every day and took many cooking lessons. Later I was working in Manhattan Beach and enjoyed the nearness of that Bristol Farms store. Now I’ve been in Washington state all of these years but always made a stop at Bristol Farms when I was in California. Advancing age keeps us closer to home now but my dear daughter sent a link to this site. Seems like old times. Please add me to your distribution list. Best wishes! and long live Bristol Farms.

Monet February 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm

So orgainzed…I think this is one of the keys of kitchen success. These little bites would be the perfect start to a party…I’m throwing my sister a bridal shower in May so I’m always looking for good ideas! Thank you for sharing these fruit and cheese treats. I hope you have a wonderful Sunday. Rest, rejuvenate and spread some love!

polwig February 13, 2011 at 10:40 am

I so need help with organization, or maybe I just need another room. Yeah back room filled with goodies would be perfect. Those goodies must include this appetizer.

Lynne March 14, 2011 at 6:23 pm

From Karen Schaffer:

Your photos are great with each dish looking fabulous. Whenever I check in, I always see several recipes that I want to try from both you and Grace Marie. It is so very generous of Grace Marie to share her recipes here so that when I miss a class of Lunch with Friends at Bristol Farms I can find often find the recipe here.

Thanks for making it so easy to print the recipes.


Karen Schaffer August 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Several friends and I attended your Aug. 10th Cool & Casual Caribbean. Everything was great. We plan to make the Jamaica-Me-Crazy Chicken with Captain Morgan Smashers & Red Pepper Mango Sauce for our ladies’ bridge potluck. I made the Curry Spiced Heirloom Tomato Salad for dinner.

With my recent large crop of home grown tomatoes I used one of my favorite recipes from your class years ago. Spiced Tomato Jam with Herbed Goat Cheese. It has become a tradition in our extended family.

Thanks for inspiring me with new recipes.


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