We are thrilled to be working with California Giant Berry Farms' Brand Ambassador Brandie Kajino, the brilliant blogger behind SpoonandSaucer.com. Brandie, much like us, has berries on the brain, especially as she's crafting menus and prepping dishes for the upcoming Christmas holiday. Below, she shares some creative tips for making your favorite, classic holiday dishes even better with berries!
The lights are twinkling on rooftops, draped on trees and carols fill the speakers of cars and shopping centers everywhere. Families huddle around the fire, reading stories passed on from generations before. The holiday table is filled with classics, like sparkling champagne, creamy hot chocolate, cranberry sauce, and spicy gingerbread.
These flavors are familiar, and I look forward to them every year. I love the classics, and sometimes I want to put a twist on them. How fun would it be to add some berries into the mix with those old favorites? Here are some ideas to get your creative berry juices flowing:
In the Bubbly: Sure, there's the standard shortcake thing, but that's more of a summer dish. Around the holidays, we raise a glass of bubbly, and wouldn't it be nice to see a deep red plump berry perched on the side? Or bobbing around in the bubbles? Ahhh yes.
Creme Brulee: Yes, that creamy dessert really has no time it shouldn't be on the table. A fanned out gorgeous (chocolate dipped?) strawberry laid on top of that crackling top? Swoon.
Creamy Berry Hot Chocolate: There's nothing quite as good as sipping on a creamy, thick cup of hot chocolate. Raspberries and chocolate are the best of friends. What about a tart sweet raspberry syrup drizzled on top of the whipped cream? Sip, sip, sip... sigh.... Click to check out my recipe for from-scratch hot chocolate!
Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce: I love a tart and slightly sweet cranberry sauce. This year, I'm going to add some raspberries to my homemade whole berry sauce. Then maybe spoon it on top of that creme brulee, or a mix it up with some champagne. How could this be a bad thing?
Gingerbread with Blackberry Jam: Gingerbread is a holiday staple for many families. I love those little gingerbread men, so cutely decorated with little buttons and white piping. The thing is, I'm absolutely useless when it comes to art on cookies. It's pathetically sad, but true. But a loaf of gingerbread? I can do that! I envision a thick slice of spicy gingerbread, with a schmear of fluffy mascarpone cheese, and topped with a sweet tart blackberry jam. Or just blackberries on the side, sprinkled with cinnamon. And coffee... there must be coffee.
Open House Table: Fresh berries are easy to put out for a crowd. Here are some flavor combinations you can get on the table in a hurry, so your guests can mingle and enjoy the party:
Fresh Berry Fruit Salad: Mix it up, with a surprise ingredient. Use whatever berries and fruit you can find. I tend to leave the citrus out, as it overpowers everything else, although they do make for terrific little fruit cups.Click here for my personal favorite fruit salad recipe.
Blackberries and Yogurt or Creme Fraiche - Little cups of creamy goodness, with the tart blackberries. Add a dash of cinnamon to really set it off.
Raspberries, Gingersnaps and Goat Cheese - You'd be surprised how this works! Thin, crunchy gingersnaps or wafers, spread with thick goat cheese, topped with a raspberry. Go ahead, try it.
Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar - Everyone thinks I'm crazy when I suggest this, until they try it. The vinegar brings out the deep strawberry flavor that almost makes your mouth explode. Slice the strawberries, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and let them sit. Taste after 15 minutes or so, and add a little honey if needed. This goes beautifully on cheesecake too!
How will you incorporate berries into your holiday masterpieces? Let us know, we'd love to try 'em out!