Sticky Port Cranberry Chutney – made with a mere handful of ingredients. And almond crackers – served with an assortment of cheeses, fruit & nuts, makes the perfect start to any soiree, or as the centerpiece in a food basket for those gourmands in your life.
The almond crackers I’ve been making for decades. Back in Australia I put the recipe (slightly different from this) into a cookbook I co-wrote. Then in another one of my past lives, this one in Canada, I wrote a Christmas cookbook & combine the crackers with a simple, unique & fabulous port cranberry chutney. Together on a cheese plate they’re completely brilliant.
Easier to make than you might consider, the crackers are so much better & less expensive than anything you’ll buy from the store using ingredients you’ll more than likely to have on hand.
Completely make-ahead, you can have both the crackers & the chutney done a week before your gathering. Gone are my days of fussing myself into a cooking exhaustion when hosting a get-together. If it’s make-ahead, relatively easy & uses little processed ingredients as possible then chances are, it’ll make it on my menu.
Port Cranberry Chutney & Almond Crackers served with just two or three good cheeses & a decent vino is my favorite start to a special meal. I particularly love serving this because all that’s left to do 30 minutes before guests arrive is take the cheese, chutney & fruit from the fridge & arrange it on a platter or board. Then nestle the crackers in & around everything else right before serving.
Which cheeses you select is up to you but a good guide is: something nutty, something sharp & something creamy. I tend towards a very creamy Brie or Camembert; a mouth-puckering, sharp cheddar & a nutty blue such as a gorgonzola. A word, stay away from the overly processed, bordering-on-plastic cheese for a nice cheese platter.
Add a couple of small bunches of grapes, plump medjool dates (exceptionally with blue cheese) and/or dried apricots & some nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts or brazil nuts.
All that’s left to do is pop the cork on some bubbles or your favorite wine. Because I go above & beyond for you, dear loyal readers of my blog, I have also tested this platter with vodka, bourbon, beer & an assortment of cocktails – martini, cosmo…suffice to say you can serve this cheese platter with any booze. As you know, I have an penchant for all things rustic & simple, so for me this is a perfect start to a party or a meal. After some other easy hors d’oeuvres to serve to your guests this festive season? Then you might like to also try Warm Moroccan Olives & Feta Herb Tartlets. Thanks so much for stopping by Fresh Hunger. I’m toddling off to enjoy this blustery, snowy day we’re having in small town Indiana & photograph a beautiful winter salad & watch one of our resident squirrels hurriedly looking for where he hid his walnuts…brrrr little guy, scurry back to your cozy home.
Let’s chat soon, okay. You I mean, not the squirrel.
Port Cranberry Chutney & Almond Crackers
2 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1 scant cup flour
1 cup whole natural almonds
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
PORT CRANBERRY CHUTNEY
2 cups port
2 cups dried cranberries
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
To make the almond crackers: Grease an 8 x 4-inch (20 x 10cm) loaf pan & line with non-stick paper. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
Beat egg whites & sugar in medium bowl, using electric beaters, for about 3 minutes or until mixture is white and thick (not meringue).
Add flour, almonds, spices & salt; mix until well combined. Spoon or lightly press into prepared pan; smooth top using the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until lightly browned around sides; cool in pan.
Turn out onto cutting board & cut into about 1/8-inch(3mm) thick slices. Place slices in single layer on non-greased baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until crisp and lightly golden; cool completely before storing.
Port Cranberry Chutney: Combine port, cranberries, sugar, vinegar and salt in medium saucepan & stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thickened, chutney will thicken further on cooling. Serves 6.