By Beverly Barbour
Tom Turkey isn't the only one who loves cranberries
As any cranberry lover knows you must take advantage of the jolly red berries while they are fresh from the bog. Buy them by the bag and toss the bags into the freezer. Cranberries out of season cost an arm and a leg and none of us want to sacrifice either limb, so if you want to bite the berry in 2007, bite the bullet and load the freezer now.
One of the many virtues of the tart, sassy fruit is that it makes almost any meat or fowl taste better and look prettier when paired with cranberries at the table. Cranberries bake well, too. In fact, they can be cut in half or chopped and substituted in most blueberry scone or muffin recipes. Because they are so tart they are often paired with apples or oranges or pears in baking.
Speaking of baking, a reader caught a sentence dropped from the recipe for Oatmeal Brownies in a recent column headed, "Cereal Based Cookies Are A Good Halloween Trick."
You may have figured it out for yourself, but flour and oatmeal should have been mixed together and then added to the cookie batter. Doing so helps keep the cereal flakes separate. When baking cookies and bars the order is not all that important, but had the recipe been for a cake, it would have been very important. My apologies!
1. Superfood: Cranberries offer more than average health benefits. They're a good source of antioxidant phenols and they contain an infection-fighting compound that reduces the risk of ulcers and may even protect your teeth.
2. Smoothies: Freeze a bag of cranberries, then whirl some with frozen blueberries, vanilla-flavored yogurt, orange juice, and a little honey.
3. Stuffings: Add a handful of fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped apples, toasted pecans, sage and a little maple syrup to a bread stuffing mix.
4. Chutney: Cook fresh or frozen cranberries with brown sugar, a little cider vinegar, minced ginger, star anise, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and pepper for about 5 minutes.
5. Pancakes, Scones or Muffins: Substitute 1/4 cup fresh cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped dates for each cup of blueberries in any recipe.
This is great on sandwiches, nice to serve with meats, and good on toast.
Bring all ingredients to a boil in heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer, uncovered, stirring now and then, until jam is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Jam will continue to thicken as it cools. Force jam through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding skins and seeds. Cool, stirring occasionally. Makes 2 cups.
Cranberry Pear Crisp
Bake in individual portions for elegance or in a larger pan for ease.
1 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine flour, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. With a mixer at low speed, or your fingers, mix or rub in butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs and begins to come together. Stir in walnuts. In a bowl, mix pears, cranberries and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Divide fruit among 8 small baking containers or pour into a 9-inch square or round baking dish; spread level. Top evenly with flour mixture. Bake until juices are bubbly, pears are tender when pierced, and topping is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes for ramekins, 40 to 50 minutes for large crisp. Makes 8 servings.
This is a great sauce to substitute for gravy and pass with chicken, turkey or pork. Interesting for dunking French-fries (made in the oven of course--less fat) or shrimp, too.
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
Over medium heat bring combined cranberries, onion and cider to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries are soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan. Stir in vinegar, honey, orange juice concentrate and remaining ingredients. Simmer until mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Store, tightly covered in refrigerator. Makes 1 1/4 cups.
Candied-Orange & Cranberry Compote Dessert
This does not go with turkey. The oranges are cooked to make sure all bitterness is released, so it is very important that they are sliced very thin. You will need an extremely sharp, thin-bladed knife for the job. This can be made 4 days ahead and kept chilled. Nice served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or orange sorbet or as a sauce over pound cake.
3/4 cup water
Bring water and sugar to a boil in heavy 2-quart saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, quarter orange lengthwise and slice paper-thin crosswise (including peel). Add orange and gently simmer over moderately low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peel begins to turn translucent and syrup is reduced to about 2/3 cup, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool. Stir in cranberries and Grand Marnier (or any orange-flavored liqueur) or add orange flavoring, to taste. Chill, covered, until cold, about 1 hour. Makes about 2 cups.
Enjoy cranberries all meal round and all year round!