The Beautiful Cranberry
The holidays the "Most wonderful time of the year" when we gather with family and friends to enjoy food and drink prepared with recipes handed down from generation to generation or a delight made to start a new tradition. Old traditions or new, most holiday menus include a dish made with cranberries...that beautiful red berry with so much color and flavor.
I did a little research on cranberries and was amazed to learn that cranberries, unlike fruits picked from a tree, grow in bogs and are actually a evergreen dwarf plant with white berries that turn red as the fruit matures. This unusual fruit can be found in North American especially in the New England States which is why, it is quite possible, the Native American shared cranberries with the Pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving and we have been enjoying them ever since. The fact is fresh cranberries have a very sour even bitter taste which is why, instead of eating them, kids make cranberry chains to drape around the Christmas Tree to add color. Thankfully more and more cooks have learned that by adding a little sugar, mixing with other fruits, or used in baking their true flavor comes out. Recently my 9 year old Granddaughter, Emilie, and I decided to start a new tradition using cranberries as the main ingredient of our dish thus began our experimenting with cranberries and are delighted with the results. Here are a few recipes we want to share with you and hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
The delicious and veritable crandberry
Cranberry Relish x 2
Cranberry relish is a staple at most holiday meals and taste better if made a day or 2 ahead of the feast. For the first recipe all you is:
- 1 pound washed sorted cranberries.
- 4 medium apples, washed, cored, and pealed
- 3 oranges-the whole orange just take out the seeds.
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 cup of sugar or to taste.
I love to use an old fashion hand grinder to mix the fruits but you can use a food processor or blender. Do not over blend as this is a relish that will serve 8. Please in an air tight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
The second is just as easy. In a large sauce pan blend:
- one pound of fresh washed cranberries
- 1 cup finely chopped sweet apples ( not Granny Smith)
- 1/2 cup of apple juice
- 1/2 cup of orange juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar ( or to taste).
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minuets our until the cranberries pop and the apples are soft. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8 to 10 and is a great left over
Cranberry juice, punch, and cocktail
Cranberries are wonderful to drink as well as eat! To make cranberry juice simply boil 2 quarts of water, 8 cups frozen or fresh cranberries. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover allowing the liquid to simmer for 20 minuets. Strain through a fine food strainer discarding the berries. Add to the juice:
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup orange juice
Simmer 10 minuets or until the sugar is dissolved. Chill and serve 8 people.
Cranberry Poinsettia is a adult beverage (21 years or older) and adds a wonderful splash to color to the buffet table. In a punch bowl mix:
- 2 liters of cran-apple juice
- 4 cups white grape juice
- 2 liters of Ginger Ale
- 3/4 cup vodka
Make an ice ring using 2 cups of the cran-apple juice to keep the punch cold.
For younger guest use the same recipe minus the vodka! To make it appealing for the little ones, I freeze 2 cups of the cran-apple juice in a Christmas tree or Santa shaped cake pan to float on top.
Fresh sliced oranges make a pretty garnish as well.
Now you are talking as no holiday meal is complete with out desert. Instead of the usual pumpkin pie delight your guest with a cranberry pie. Start by pre-heating the oven to 400F and assemble:
- 2 pie crust ( home made or store bought)
- 4 cups washed and pealed apples ( golden or red delicious is best)
- 2 cups washes cranberries.
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts ( this is optional)
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 teaspoon grown cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter-sliced
Lightly spray a pie pan oil to prevent the crust from sticking. Place the pie crust in the pie pan. Blend the cranberries, sliced apples, and nuts and spread over the pie crust. In a small bowl whisk the cornstarch, cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the apples and cranberries. Put small slices of butter all over the top and carefully place the top pie crust. Cut decorative slices in the top crust to vent the steam and bake for 45 minuets to an hour. Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream,