Not too long ago I went to one of my favorite restaurants in town and to my surprise they had a special that day of turkey and dressing. When the waitress came to take my order, I asked if the lunch special came with cranberry sauce. To my horror, it did not. I almost didn’t order the turkey and I told the waitress why, but decided I’d just try to do without the cranberry sauce this one time. To my surprise-horror now gone- my plate full of freshly cooked, sliced turkey and oh so good dressing, had a side of cranberry sauce! The waitress said, “they must have heard you back in the kitchen, because we are now serving the special with cranberry sauce”.
Cranberries are such a holiday tradition, not just for putting a little sauce on the turkey and forkful with the dressing, but to compliment whatever you may be having. I know that many of us will be having ham or roast beef or other traditional foods for the holidays, so I wanted to give you some recipes that will compliment whatever you choose to serve your family.
There are so many different ways to prepare cranberries that I had a hard time just limiting the recipes. But, I think that I’ve chosen four good recipes for you and your family to enjoy or to give as gifts for the holidays. We’ll begin with two this week and continue with two more next week.
Bon Appétit and Happy Holidays!
Let’s start with my all time favorite cranberry conserve recipe. This recipe was my mother’s. Mother usually served roast beef for Christmas dinner, but this recipe for cranberry conserve was on the table and oh so delicious with the rolls. Keep in mind that it’s also good over ice cream, and a little mixed in with your favorite ham salad recipe makes the salad out of this world.
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, halved
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 oranges, peeled, and sections cut away from membrane
1 cup raisins
1-1/4 cups water
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2-1/2 cups sugar
In a large saucepan, combine cranberries, orange peel, oranges, raisins and water. Cover and simmer over medium heat until cranberries are soft. Add pecans and sugar; stir well. Simmer uncovered 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Cool. Spoon into covered containers or sterilized glass jars. Refrigerate. Makes 3 pints. If you are canning the cranberry conserve, don’t cool but put hot cranberry conserve into sterilized jars and then follow canning directions.
Great gift idea for a next door neighbor-put this on a pretty plate, add some really good crackers, wrap in cellophane, and tie a bow around it. Deliver it right away with a bottle of wine.
1 (8-inch diameter) wheel Brie cheese
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 325º. Remove top rind from Brie. Place Brie in shallow baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the Brie is soft and heated through. Combine water, sugar, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add cranberries and return to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Add horseradish and Dijon mustard. Spoon the cranberries over the baked Brie. Serve immediately with crackers.
Note: This is a savory dish, but if you feel that you need a little crunch, add a handful of toasted chopped walnuts to the top.
Steve Asbell, freelance writer, blogger and illustrator.
Photographs Steve Asbell
It seems that ‘under the mistletoe’ is the hottest place to be for the holidays, and ‘kissing balls’ of mistletoe have adorned homes at least since the days of Victorian England. Unfortunately, real mistletoe is highly poisonous and it dies the moment it’s cut from the branch of its host tree. That’s where mistletoe cactus comes into its own.
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