From gingerbread cookies and delicious desserts to egg nog and fine wine, the holiday season is quickly approaching with all of its palatable glory, and it’s never too early to start planning. For the endless holiday celebrations, we pair two of Oceania Cruises Executive Culinary Director Jacques Pépin’s recipes perfect for entertaining friends and family.

Jacques Pépin’s Sweet Cheese Medley

(Makes about 30 appetizers)

½ pound assorted cheeses (such as feta, blue, Gouda, Gruyère, or Camembert), room temperature

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (see tips)

1/3 cup dark raisins (soaked in port, if desired)

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Freshly ground black pepper

Kosher or sea salt (optional)

1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted

Cut or crumble the cheeses into pieces about ¼ to ½ inch in size. Place in a medium bowl.

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly and watching to ensure they do not burn.

Add the pumpkin seeds, raisins, honey, and lime juice to the cheeses. Stir to combine. Season to taste with pepper and salt, keeping in mind that salty cheeses may not need any additional salt.

Serve on top of toasted baguette slices.

Jacques Pépin’s Champagne on Fruit Rocks

(serves 4)       

1 (12-ounce) package frozen unsweetened raspberries

½ cup blackberry preserves

1 bottle sparkling wine

Defrost the raspberries overnight in the refrigerator.

Pass the berries and preserves through a food mill. If you want seedless ice cubes, pass the fruit through a fine mesh strainer after the food mill. You should have about 1 1/3 cup of berry purée. Pour the purée into ice cube trays and freeze overnight (see tips). Once frozen, remove the cubes from the tray, place them in a freezer bag, and keep frozen until ready to use.

About 30 minutes before serving, place 2 to 3 cubes into each of 4 glasses. Place the glasses in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or on the counter for 15 minutes to soften the cubes. Pour the sparkling wine over the cubes and enjoy.

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