MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Nov 1, 2012) - (Family Features) Buffets are a great way to provide party fare for a festive holiday gathering. These beautiful and enticing self-serve recipes get fresh flavor and color with grapes from California.

Green, red and black grapes from California are still in-season during the holidays, so fresh grapes can be your "go-to" ingredient as an everyday treat, or in party foods like these.

Smoked Salmon Appetizers with Grapes -- These elegant, open-faced sandwiches show how grapes complement the flavors of smoked fish and cream cheese with their refreshing tang -- a balance of sweetness and acidity that is key to the grape's versatility. The chopped grape garnish provides another color accent to these beautiful bites.

Pickled Grapes -- Currently all the rage on "little plates" in fine and casual restaurants, they can provide that "wow" moment at your table, too. These easy-to-make accompaniments are perfect with bread, crackers, cheeses and sliced meats.

Grape Rosemary Martini -- To create made-to-order craft cocktails like this, you may need to employ a barkeep of some sort. Whether that's one of the hosts, a volunteer among the guests or someone you hire, you'll be pleased with the green-hued, aromatic and spirited results. The drink works equally well without vodka, too.

Grape Salad with Feta and Olives -- A green salad is always welcome at a holiday feast. The inclusion of grapes in this Greek-inspired salad balances the peppery arugula and salty olives, while also enhancing the flavor of the mint.

For more grape snack and recipe ideas, visit www.grapesfromcalifornia.com, or www.facebook.com/GrapesFromCalifornia.

Set Your Table with Grapes for Heart Health
Grapes may be the perfect finish to a heavy holiday meal high in fat. In a small study of healthy adult males conducted at Ohio State University and supported by the California Table Grape Commission, grapes consumed along with a high-fat meal helped prevent the reduced blood flow typically observed with a high fat meal. Grape consumption also helped improve the function of blood vessels and increased the presence of antioxidants in the body.

Smoked Salmon Appetizers with Grapes 
Makes 16 appetizers 
1 cup finely diced red and green seedless California grapes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
  Pinch salt
4 tablespoons low fat cream cheese
4 slices (roughly 3 x 5 inches) Danish-style rye bread, each cut crosswise into 4 pieces
2 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

In small bowl, combine grapes, dill, vinegar, sugar and salt.

Spread cream cheese on bread slices and top with pieces of salmon. Drizzle with the grape relish and serve.

Nutritional analysis per appetizer: Calories 37; Protein 1.6 g; Carbohydrate 6 g; Fat 1 g; 23% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 3 mg; Sodium 105 mg; Fiber 0.5 g

Pickled Grapes
Makes 3 pints
1 pound green, red or black seedless California grapes, cut into medium size clusters on stem, rinsed
1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  Large pinch red pepper flakes
  Wedge of Manchego or sharp cheddar cheese
  Multigrain crackers or toasted baguette slices

For pickled grape clusters: Place grapes in several large clusters into large bowl. Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns, cloves and pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir just until the sugar has dissolved and pour over the grapes. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Place into serving dish of choice, and serve with the cheese and crackers or bread.

For more intense flavor: Remove grapes from stems. With a sharp paring knife, cut an X in the stem end of each grape. Divide between 3 pint-size canning jars. Make pickling sauce according to directions, then pour over the grapes in each jar. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

Nutritional analysis per 1/3 cup serving: Calories 40; Protein 0.2 g; Carbohydrate 10.2 g; Fat 0.06 g; 1.2% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 28 mg; Fiber 0.3 g

Grape Rosemary Martini
Makes 1 cocktail
2 ounces vodka
1 small sprig rosemary, plus additional for garnish
1 ounce freshly made green California grape juice*
  Green California grapes for garnish

Combine vodka, rosemary, fresh grape juice and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake hard. Strain into a martini glass. Thread 1 grape on a rosemary sprig and place in glass. Serve.

*To make fresh grape juice, puree 1 cup seedless green California grapes in a food processor or blender and strain through a fine sieve. It will make about 1/3 cup.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 160; Protein 0.3 g; Carbohydrate 8 g; Fat 0.2 g; 1% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 3 mg; Fiber 0.5 g

Grape Salad with Feta and Olives 
Makes 6 servings 
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried mint*
  Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups halved green seedless California grapes
2 cups halved red seedless California grapes
6 cups arugula (about 5 ounces)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives

In small bowl, combine red wine vinegar, Dijon, olive oil, mint and salt and pepper to taste. Blend well.

In large bowl combine remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over mixture; season with salt and pepper, toss and serve.

*If you can't find peppermint in the herb section of your grocery store, just buy bulk peppermint tea.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 269; Protein 5.2 g; Carbohydrate 22 g; Fat 19 g; 61% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 22 mg; Sodium 650 mg; Fiber 1.5 g

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