One of the easiest appetizers ever is a fix-your-own platter of crackers surrounding pepper jelly poured over a block of cream cheese. We’ve got three ways you can up your game and impress everyone at your next dinner party.
Hot Mustard from Asheville
Mustard on cream cheese and a cracker? Yes. Try it. Flavorful mustards go really well with creamy dairy. And Asheville’s Lusty Monk Mustards are nothing if not flavorful. They’re spicy hot whole grain mustards with big flavors. We tried the Honey Mustard and loved it. Keep it refrigerated even before opening so it will keep up its strength. You’ll enjoy it on sandwiches and it will punch up your favorite deviled eggs, but try it in vinaigrettes and your next potato salad. In addition to honey mustard, they make original and chipotle flavors. $6.99 per 9-ounce jar. The Mercantile, 1660 DeKalb Avenue NE, Atlanta. 404-378-0096. http://lustymonk.com/
Red Onion Jam from Chattahoochee Hills
Yes, we love pepper jelly. But what about onion jam? Serenbe Foods makes a Red Onion Jam we're now addicted to. Red onions, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt combine to make a tart, savory, sweet jam that we’ve been enjoying on top of grits, in a biscuit, spicing up a stir fry and glazing a salmon fillet. And yes, it’s perfect on top of a cracker spread with cream cheese. It comes in a generous jar so you’re free to dollop it on all kinds of things. Serenbe Foods offers a line of pickles, fruit butters and jams made from local ingredients including vegetables grown at Serenbe Farms. You can buy it online or at the Serenbe Farmers Market. $13 for a 12.7 ounce jar. https://serenbefoods.com/
Hot Pepper Bacon Jam from Clearwater
Terrapin Ridge Farms in Clearwater, Florida added bacon to the concept of hot pepper jelly and came up with a delicious result. They call it “Hot Pepper Bacon Jam” and it’s a chunky mix with bits of roasted peppers and jalapeno. You taste the smoke from the roasted peppers enhanced by the smoke of the bacon. Some of testers didn’t even recognize it as bacon, just knew they loved the smokiness combined with the sweet and the hot. Ryan Bowersox of Wilbur & Rudy’s Farmtable Market in Milton says it’s their bestselling jam by far. You’ll have no trouble using up this jar whether it’s on cream cheese and a cracker, as a condiment on your cheese plate or on top of anything you take off the grill. $8 to $9.99 per 11-ounce jar. Wilbur & Rudy’s Farmtable Market, Milton; Strippagio, Atlanta; Branch & Vine, Peachtree City. https://terrapinridge.com/