Monday, December 27, 2010

A fruit platter and cheese grits soufflé are perfect brunch side dishes

Pineapple with cranberries & mint
I hope each of you had a great Christmas and Santa was good to you. We had planned to celebrate Christmas in the mountains, so in early December we left our little pied-à-terre in south Florida and headed for home. No sooner than we unpacked the car it began to snow and soon we were snowed in. It didn’t take long to realize that going home for Christmas was a bad idea and as soon as the first thaw, we jumped back in the car and set the autopilot for sunny Florida.

We spent Christmas morning at Meakin’s brother’s house where we enjoyed a scrumptious brunch after opening packages. As you can see, our little nieces were thrilled with what Santa brought them.

Our niece loves The Little Mermaid

Our niece showing Aunt Tammy her new boots

While my SIL prepared her famous popovers

and fried Nueskes thick sliced apple-wood smoked bacon, Meakin scrambled eggs and I prepared a pineapple fruit platter with cranberries mascerated in rum and baked a cheesy grits soufflé.

Pineapple with cranberries & mint
Pineapple fruit platter with cranberries and mint
Adapted from Ocado

1 large fresh pineapple
About 3 tablespoons (or more if you wish) dried cranberries
1 – 2 tablespoons gold rum
1 lime, zest grated and juice reserved
About 3 tablespoons (or more) fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Using a sharp knife, cut away the skin from the pineapple and discard the skin and top. Cut the flesh into quarters, remove and discard the woody core, and slice into spears. In a small bowl, pour some gold rum over the dried cranberries and set aside to plump.

Arrange the pineapple spears on a serving platter and squeeze the lime juice over, and then scatter the cranberries over the pineapple and drizzle with the rum. In a small bowl, add the chopped mint, lime zest and brown sugar, and mix well. Drizzle the mixture evenly over the fruit, then chill the fruit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Before serving, bring back to room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

Cheddar cheese grits souffle
A sautéed sweet red bell pepper was added to the cheese grits for a holiday accent. When you cook grits, always, and I emphasize always, salt your water before adding the grits. If you skip this, you will never be able to properly season the grits and they will taste flat and unseasoned.

Cheese Grits Soufflé
Adapted from Southern Living

4 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup finely chopped parsley or herbs of your choice
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring milk just to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add salt, then gradually whisk in butter and grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, whisking constantly (whisking keeps grits from spattering on you and the stove), 5 to 7 minutes or until grits are done. Remove from heat and taste for salt. (We usually add more salt.)

Into the hot grits, stir in the lightly beaten egg, freshly ground black pepper, cheese, and chopped parsley. Pour into a lightly greased soufflé dish. (You could also use a 11- x 7-inch baking dish.) Sprinkle the grits with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until mixture is set. Serve immediately. Garnish, if desired. Yield: 6 – 8 servings.

Cheese grits souffle with red peppers
Optional red bell pepper addition for cheese grits

Prepare grits as above and add the sautéed red peppers at the same time you add the cheese.

1 sweet red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a 10” non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil, and then add the chopped red bell pepper and sauté for about 4 to 5 minutes, until it softens. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and add to the hot grits when you add the cheese.


  1. I'm glad you all had a wonderful Christmas. I made the ham with Ina Garten's glaze to bring to friends house and it was a huge hit. Thanks for posting that recipe earlier. It's not the warmest here in Florida but no snow so that's okay. Take care.

  2. We ate pineapple all Christmas Day but it was not as lovingly prepared as your platter. High praise for Nueske's apple-smoked bacon! And the grits warmed the cockles of my heart. Love the photo (photos sort of) of your niece. She has very good taste in mermaids!

  3. Lovely food! I am a big fan of popovers.

    Good to know you had a wonderful Xmas.



  4. After all our snow (always expected), I've been checking out Florida rentals for next winter!!

    Your Christmas looks like a lot of fun and delicious. Andrew made a cheese grits souffle for our Christmas brunch. Not as tasty as yours looks but very good. His recipe was from the Chicago Tribune a few years ago. I do believe Southern Living's would win hands down!!


  5. Cheese grits souffle sound wonderful!!!

  6. Mmmmm....looks wonderful. What a nice brunch.

  7. So glad to hear you had a wonderful Christmas and welcome back to Florida! Only problem is, it's in the 30 degrees here but at least it's not snowing, right?! A fruit platter is always great to have in the fridge & yours looks delicious as do those amazing grits! Thanks for the tip about salting the water beforehand - I will be sure to keep that in mind:)Love the photo of the popovers too - I love to make (and eat) them served with strawberry butter a la Neiman Marcus. What a spread you guys had - Cheers to your fabulous and talented family!

  8. That cheese grit dish looks wonderful Sam! Gotta give that one a try. Let me get this didn't like the snow? I'm about to plunge into depression because we've hardly had any snow at all this Winter. I love having 4 seasons so don't think Florida would work for me. Love the niece photos.

  9. Wishing you had a merry Christmas too and the best od new years too! I would have loved coming to that brunch. Cheese grits are our favorite and we make them hearty and easy! The pop-overs look wonderful. I haven't had them since I lived in Hawaii, my cousin would make them on Sundays. good!

  10. Is the boot close enough:)? I smiled:)

    All the food looks of our local chefs..Mtl..actually uses Christmas tree sugar on his citrus platters:) Nice twist..I bet the mint was so refreshing!

  11. Your fruit salads never cease to amaze me and I love cheese and grits in any fashion. Snowed in for Christmas in the mountains is what you're supposed to hope for. The roaring fire, a glass of good wine, sitting in the clothes optional hot tub with your man - what could be better?

  12. That souffle is sinful!!!
    Love those popovers, wow!
    Happy New Year Sam & Meakin!

  13. I had such funny comments about the boot picture really being what the niece learned from watching the UFC MMA stuff and was going to ask about those pop over trays....

    Then I saw those glorious cheese grits. I am a ***** for grits and those look **** ***** ***** good! Seriously *******ing good. Did I mention I love real grits and these look *********** perfect?


  14. What a wonderful brunch! Though we haven't done badly here in snowed-in WNC . . .

  15. Oh my, what a lovely breakfast! I would love your fruit salad, Sam, especially with the addition of the boozy cranberries. And a souffle...and popovers...heaven!

  16. Wow Mary, that grit recipe looks tempting. Happy there are no egg whites to mess with... On my list. Stay warm for the rest of us!

  17. Ah, so you avoided the snow! Good maneuver! And, it looks like your meal combined the best of Carolina and the sunny tropics. Here's to a Happy New Year, Sam!

  18. Wow, this all looks FABULOUS! Not sure what I like more ...those adorable boots or those popovers but I will take a litle of every thing please! :) Nice round up post!

  19. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas, Sam, snow aside. Well, Florida is not exactly warm right now either, but no snow at least. :)

    I love a grits souffle. Have been making one for years! The food looks marvelous...those popovers are making my mouth water. With a little fruit butter, they are yummy!

    Happy New Year, Sam!

  20. It sounds like a fabulous way to begin a holiday morning. Your fruit platter stole the show, but those grits were a close second. I hope you've arrived safely back in Florida and will be able to enjoy the remainder of the holiday. Blessings...Mary

  21. great salad and he he nice you could head back to the warmth of FL :-) hugs Rebecca

  22. Happy to hear you made it back to sunny FL!!! Love everything you made! I'm going downstairs right now to make that pineapple platter, and souffle - I have all the ingredients! Thanks for the great recipes! Happy New Year!


  23. The pineapple platter looks marvellously tasty and fresh...and that souffle!! Wow, I wish I had a big bowlful right now...having some unseasonly cold and windy weather here in Cape Town, South Africa!

  24. What a refreshing salad. Love all the fruits and colorful mix of ingredients i it.

    Happy 2011 to you!

  25. What a fantastic spread! Hard to beat a SL grits recipe but I have to say that fruit salad was beautiful! What a great idea for presentation. Sorry about getting snowed in! It certainly was a White Christmas for much of the country - that's for sure;) Happy New Year!

  26. Cute photos, Sam! I'm glad you had a wonderful Christmas and the brunch dishes look fantastic. Glad to see you using some, fine Wisconsin bacon ;) Nueskes my favorite too. They even sell it at a kiosk in one of our nicer malls.

  27. The cheese grits souffle sounds excellent, I like the addition of red bell pepper, an excellent Christmas morning brunch!

  28. The food looks DELICIOUS! I'm definitely going to try the Cheese Grits souffle!

  29. Nothing better than a fruit platter if you ask me. I'm planning to have much fruit in the upcoming year. That's my resolution!


  30. Happy New Year Sam! I just love your fruit platter, I will be borrowing that!

  31. Funny thing, Sam . . . I decided to put together a simple fruit salad for Christmas eve for the first time to lighten up our dinner and with the pineapple, dried crans and more, it was a huge hit! It was just tossed though and not presented as nicely as yours is. Now those grits, I've just got to try soon! Roz

  32. You just reminded me of how I made popovers at the assisted living I worked at years ago, and I loved them so much!

  33. I just bought some grits (the slow-cooking kind, though) to try out. I like cheesy grits, but have never made them myself--yours look wonderful!


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