25 November 2011

Green Grapes and Sour Cream

Working through my drafts folder has meant wading through post ideas that were often nothing but a link, or a link and a sentence, or a headline.

Like one that was headlined:

Green Grapes and Sour Cream

And contained naught but a link:

Go ahead. Click that link. Or just parse it and note that it's from July 2010 - more than a year ago.

Smitten Deb had published a recipe, for a raspberry brown sugar gratin, a three ingredient dessert. And I'd read it and drooled, but mostly I remembered a recipe my mother used to make, an easy recipe for casual dinner parties.  She'd take some sour cream, stir it up with a few drops of vanilla, blob it over green grapes in a shallow dish, sieve brown sugar over the top, and run the whole thing under the broiler. You'd get the cold juicy grapes, with the tangy unctuous cream, and the toasty caramelized sugar, and it was a joyous mess with shades of crème brûlée.

I haven't made either of them, either Moky's grape version, or Deb's raspberry one. But recipes like that become so much more than just recipes. They're memory prods, Proust's madeleines. They transport you back to a period when people had dinner parties, and women wore perfume, and children were neither seen nor heard. The oven is open, just so, the broiler is going, and just to my right is the big black Garland stove, and there's a marble slab on the counter over the oven, with a waiting cooling rack, even though the grapes never get hot so you don't really need the rack.

What can you taste just by thinking about it? And conversely, what tastes conjure up indelible memories?

As for me, I think I'll make the green grape/sour cream gratin the next time my gluten-free friend comes for dinner.


Bibliomama said...

I read the post title as 'sour grapes' the first time. And the second time. I have a hard time looking at it and NOT seeing 'sour grapes'. What's WRONG with me?

Okay, okay. Um. My Mom's rice pudding. I haven't had rice pudding in years. Decades maybe.

Pinky said...

I made that for dessert one night many years ago, when Howie and I had Wally over for dinner. They both laughed and laughed and thought it was the craziest damn thing they'd ever seen!

I love it.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I've done the grapes with sour cream and brown sugar, but never caramelized it--I will try that.

All of Thanksgiving dinner reminds me of my mother--a lot.

Anna said...

when i was still but a young lady in my twenties, my roomate and i used to throw the most delightfully over the top dinner parties... thank you for the memory. if only we had had the green grape sour cream recipe back then, it would surely have been a hit!

Kizz said...

Broiling them is a surprise! My mother always served fresh strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar. You held on to the hull and dipped your berry in cream then sugar. Divine!

Anonymous said...

A housemate of mine, my best friend from college, made that grape thing, without the broiling. I remember thinking it was the oddest thing ever until I tasted it -- it's delicious! She also introduced me to the cream cheese and olive sandwich, another thing I was very very sceptical of until I tried it.