Chutney

59 Comments

I truly love condiments, especially those seasonally-based, like chutneys. And, because I love to “play” in the kitchen and use whatever ingredients I have on hand or am in the mood to use, I wanted to show how easy it is to make your own chutney sans recipe.

It’s about creating a chutney that you love, customizing the ingredients to your tastes, according to the seasons. Indulge. Chutneys are fabulous.

I have an actual recipe following this “primer” of chutney making below, but seriously once you make a chutney, you’ll see how creative you can be and how well they turn out. A recipe is not necessary.

Create Your Own Chutney

A chutney is about combining fruits – the sweet factor, and aromatics – the savory factor, and then adding seasoning and flavorings.

The sweet-savory ratio is important, however. I use about 2/3 fruit to 1/3 aromatics in my chutneys. You don’t want it all fruit, or it would be a jam.

I season the chutney according to my tastes and the time of year. There are spicy fall and winter chutneys, and there are light, vibrant chutneys you can make for spring and summer appearances as well. (Like my Strawberry Onion Chutney.) It’s all about seasonal ingredients.

Fruit:
You can use fresh fruit: apple, pear, mango, apricot, plum, cranberries, strawberries, peach, etc.
And you can use dried fruit: cranberries, cherries, figs, apricots, raisins, dates, blueberries, etc.
A combination of fresh and dried makes a nice consistency, like pear-dried fig, peach-raisin, apple-dried apricot. Using three fruits works really well, like apple-mango-dried cherry. Or cranberry-apple-date. You get the idea.

If you’re using dried fruits like raisins or cherries, you can soak them in port or fruit juice first to soften them and soak up the flavors, then use it all in the chutney-making process.

Aromatics:
I always use a combination of fresh onion, garlic, and sometimes shallots and fresh ginger. You definitely need onion; the rest is optional.

Sugar:
There is always a sweet component in chutney to balance the aromatics. If you’re using tart cranberries, you would definitely need more sugar than if you were using, say, ripe peaches or strawberries. You can use brown sugar, white sugar, turbinado sugar and so forth. Liquid forms of sugar don’t work well in chutney, because they’re too, well, liquid. A prepared chutney is soft, but not a pile of syrupy mush. But you can add a teaspoon of maple syrup or boiled cider.

Seasonings:
Except for salt, you don’t have to season a chutney at all, although I happen to love black pepper, white pepper, and cayenne.

For fall and winter chutneys, I like them full of flavor – especially when they’re going to be served alongside fairly bland meats. The choices are vast, depending what you want your chutney to taste like.

I, personally, love that what curry powder adds to a chutney. But separately, you can use cumin, cardamom, coriander, etc. A cinnamon stick adds flavor while the chutney is cooking, but ground cinnamon can be used as well. And nutmeg, cloves, and allspice are always yummy. Think of them in an apple-pear-dried fig chutney served with a pork loin. YUM.

Another fun ingredients are small pieces of crystallized ginger.

You can also add ground chile pepper, like ancho or even chipotle powders, to a chutney. And also adobo or adobo powder – especially if you’re making the chutney for a Southwestern-inspired meal.

Vinegar:
Any vinegar will work in a chutney. I love cider vinegar and red wine vinegar, but a white balsamic vinegar works well also. Nothing fancy is required.

Cranberry Apple Raisin Chutney

2 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 purple onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 12 ounce bag cranberries, rinsed, sorted
1 apple, peeled, cored, finely chopped
1 cup golden raisins, loosely packed
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cinnamon stick, optional
2 teaspoons vinegar

Add the oil to a hot stock pot and let it heat over medium. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, without allowing browning.

Give the garlic a stir into the onions, then add the cranberries, apple, and raisins. Stir together.

Allow to heat up, then add the sugar, cinnamon, curry powder, salt, and the cinnamon stick.


Stir well, then cover the pot, turn down the heat to a simmer, and let cook for at least 15 minutes. It will look like this.

Add a couple teaspoons of vinegar and stir in gently. Unless there’s excess liquid, remove the pot from the heat.

Let the chutney cool, remove the cinnamon stick, then store in sterilized jars.


It freezes well.

Not only does this chutney go beautifully with Thanksgiving turkey, but also with chicken and pork. Here I’ve served it with roasted pork and sweet potatoes.


As you can see, there’s a lot of leeway when creating a chutney. They can be simple or complicated from an ingredient standpoint, but they are very easy to prepare.

Chutney is also wonderful topping a baked Brie, and can be used in individual Brie and chutney bites.

Just remember to cook off any extra liquid over extremely low heat, and also don’t overstir. You want to see the beautiful pieces of fruit in your beautiful chutney!

Cranberry Salsa

74 Comments

Years ago I was visiting with my favorite florist Dan, who is quite a foodie, and he asked me if I’d ever had cranberry salsa.

Cranberry salsa? I’ve never heard of such a thing! Where have I been? This just made me absolutely giddy. It’s always so exciting to come across something new and different.

Dan printed the recipe, and gave me a few suggestions on adaptations he’d made to it. But he promised me I’d absolutely love it with the turkey I’d be serving on Thanksgiving.

And I did. Here is that recipe. Thanks, Dan!

Cranberry Salsa

1- 12 ounce package cranberries
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup super-fine white sugar
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

Place the cranberries in a colander. Remove any bad ones and give the rest a good rinse.

Then place the cranberries on a towel to dry.

Place the jalapenos, garlic and sugar in the food processor and pulse until you can’t see any large pieces.

Add the cranberries, cilantro, oil and lime juice and pulse all of the ingredients, without over-processing.

Pour the salsa into a bowl and fold in the sliced green onions. I’ve found that this is easier than using the food processor to chop up green onion.

Cranberry salsa is really good, and I serve it with tortilla chips or pita crisps.


You can refrigerate the salsa overnight, but serve it at room temperature.

And as a condiment, it’s spectacular with turkey.


I make turkey cutlets often, and the pairing is fabulous.

Whether served as an appetizer or as a condiment, you’ll enjoy the zing of the cranberries and jalapeño.

The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, but I can’t fathom adding more than the 1 cup of sugar I used. It’s perfect to me just the way it is.

Next time I might consider adding some toasted walnuts or pecans to the salsa at the last minute.

Also, ginger could be used along with the garlic. Or, crystallized ginger…

Cabbage Rolls, Deconstructed

62 Comments

I am completely aware that the term “deconstructed” is overused these days, but that’s exactly what innocently came to mind when I first thought about this recipe.

Cabbage rolls have always been a favorite of mine – mostly because of all the varieties of stuffings potentially hiding inside. Ground pork with rice and raisins, reminiscent of dolma, or sausage rolled in cabbage, smothered in red sauce – all delicious, comforting, and reliable.

There’s nothing tedious or challenging about making cabbage rolls, but it’s easy to run out of the nice big cabbage leaves.

So I was staring at a cabbage the other day, and thought I could simply parboil the cabbage, and create a layered “casserole” of cabbage and sausage. But I also needed a white sauce and cheese.

I not only was thinking of traditional cabbage rolls, but also a recipe I made which was bacon and mushrooms in béchamel and wrapped in cabbage leaves – more of a side dish than a meal, and deliciously rich.

So here’s what I did, combining the components of both recipes.

Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls
printable recipe below

1 large head of white cabbage, about 3 pounds
1-2 tablespoons oil or bacon fat
2 pounds Italian sausage
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Approximately 4 cups of bechamel, double this recipe
Grated Gruyère, about 16 ounces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Have a large pot of slightly salted water heating on the stove. Slice the cabbage in half and remove the core.


When the water comes to a boil, add the cabbage halves and keep them submerged. I used a plate with a weighted lid.

Cook the cabbage for about 6-7 minutes, or until the leaves soften a bit. Place the cabbage in a colander to drain and cool. When you can handle the leaves, separate them slightly and let them drip dry on a dish towel or paper towels.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage, pork and onion over medium-high heat, along with some oil, until barely any pink shows; don’t overcook.


Add the fennel seeds and white pepper. Taste for salt.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13″ baking dish.

Begin with adding cabbage leaves to the bottom of the dish.

Next add one-fourth of the sausage mixture, topped by one cup of bechamel, and sprinkle with about 4 ounces of grated cheese.


Repeat these layers three times or, if your baking dish is shallower, form only three layers, using thirds of the sausage mixture, bechamel, and cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, until golden. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before slicing.


Serve with some buttered potatoes for a really hearty meal!


One could certainly add celery, carrots, and parsley to the meat mixture.

Or, go a different direction with seasoning the meat component to make it Italian-inspired. There are so many options.

note: This deconstructed cabbage roll casserole would be just as good with a red sauce instead of a cheesy white one, and definitely less caloric, if you worry about that sort of thing.

 

 

 

Mimi’s Christmas Biscotti

34 Comments

I’m not the first person to come up with the festive combination of dried cranberries and pistachios. They’re red and green, which, of course, is all about Christmas and the holiday season.

_mg_3062

Biscotti are twice-baked cookies. They’re first baked in flat logs, then sliced and baked again to dry them out.

I’ve always loved making different variations of biscotti, because they lend themselves to limitless variations. Because of that, I wanted a cookie base I could depend on, and this is my recipe for that base.

To it you can add dried cranberries and pistachios, or any other fruit and nut combination.

I’m going to type up my recipe as it was published in a local cookbook called “Cooking by the Boot Straps” – A Taste of Oklahoma Heaven Cooked Up By The Junior Welfare League of Enid, Oklahoma. I was honored that they included a few of my recipes in their book, which was published in 2002.

51pwez3odwl-_sx425_bo1204203200_

So here’s the recipe:
bisc2

Mimi’s Biscotti

Cookie Base:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour

Fruit and Nut Additions:
1 cup chopped dried fruit
3/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts

Beat the butter in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add the sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat just until combined.

Fold in the dried fruit and nuts with a wooden spoon. Chill, covered, 4 hours or overnight.

bisc11

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Place 1 portion of the dough on a hard work surface. Use a small amount of the remaining scant 1/4 cup of flour to shape 1 portion of the dough into a log approximately 2 inches in diameter.

Arrange the log along the long side of a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Repeat the process with the remaining portion of the dough.

Pat each log into a rectangle about 1/2 inch in height.

bisc6

Place the logs in a preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown and slightly firm to the touch. Do not over brown. Remove from oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees and let the cookie logs cool for about 10 minutes.

bisc5

Slide the logs on to a cutting board using a metal spatula. Cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. My kids always begged for the “rejects,” which are the ends and any broken biscotti!

bisc31

Arrange the slices cut side down on a baking sheet.

bisc4

Dry in the oven for 30 minutes; turn. Dry for 30 minutes longer. Both sides should be hard and dry.

If necessary reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and dry for 1 hour longer. Remembering that you are drying the cookies, not toasting them.

Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in re-sealable plastic bags. May freeze for up to 1 month.

_mg_3097

You may use dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots, dried blueberries, dark or golden raisins as well as coconut and crystallized ginger for the chopped dried fruit.

bisc (2)

For the nuts, they all work – almonds, walnuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and hazelnuts.

_mg_3101

Be creative. Try cherry almond, cranberry pistachio, golden raisin pecan, hazelnut apricot or your favorite combinations. You may also add cinnamon, poppy seeds, sweet citrus oil, citrus zest and any extracts.

Makes 5 dozen biscotti.

Cranberry Aigre Doux

57 Comments

Mr. Paul Virant, author of The Preservation Kitchen, claims that aigre-doux means sweet and sour. He also uses the term mostarda, and there are mostarda recipes in his book as well.

He states that both terms describe “preserves for cheese snobs and wine geeks.” Well that got my attention! They are supposedly not interchangeable terms, but both “frequently mix fruit with wine, vinegar, and spices.” Confusing? Yes, a little.

61hhn4ttxnl-_sx447_bo1204203200_

His book was published in April of 2012. The first recipe that I made from the book that summer was Blueberry Aigre-Doux. It was simply a matter of putting fresh blueberries in canning jars, covering them with a spiced wine “syrup,” then canning the jars. When I was ready to sample the blueberry aigre-doux, I served it with a log of goat cheese and it was fabulous.

He also has recipes for vegetables aigre-doux. I have made and posted on butternut squash aigre-doux; here I used the squash on a salad. The squash was outstanding.

ad11

Being that I made the blueberry aigre-doux a few months before I started my blog, there is no photographic evidence of it. But I knew I would be making the cranberry version.

Now I’m making it again. It’s that good.

When my daughter first tasted this cranberry aigre-doux a few years ago when she was visiting, she claimed that “it tastes like Christmas!” That is a perfect description.

_mg_2652

Cranberry Aigre-Doux

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons red table wine
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 vanilla beans, split in half with seeds scraped out
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 star anise
7 cups or so fresh cranberries

Rinse the cranberries, remove any bad ones, then let them dry on a clean dish towel.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the wine, honey, vinegar, salt, and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a boil.



_mg_2607
_mg_2613

I decided to add a cinnamon stick to the wine mixture, even though it’s not in the recipe.
_mg_2616

Scald 4 pint jars in a large pot of simmering water fitted with a rack – you will use this pot to process the jars. Right before filling, put the jars on the counter.

Add 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns and 1 star anise to each jar. Extract the vanilla bean haves from the wine-honey liquid and place one in each jar.

Pack in the cranberries, using about 6 ounces per jar. Meanwhile, soak the lids in a pan of hot water to soften the rubber seal.

Transfer the wine-honey liquid to a heat-proof pitcher and pour over the cranberries, leaving a 1/2″ space from the rim of the jar. Check the jars for air pockets, adding more liquid if necessary to fill in gaps. Wipe the rims with a clean towel, seal with the lids, then screw on the bands until snug but not tight.
_mg_2622
_mg_2621
Place the jars in the pot with the rack and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for 15 minutes (start the timer when the water reaches a boil). Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water for a few minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let cool completely.

The aigre-doux is quite liquid. Mr. Virant suggests that one “strain the liquid and set aside the cranberries. In a small pot over medium heat, reduce the liquid by half. Stir in the cranberries and serve warm.”

_mg_2644

He calls it an “ideal holiday condiment.”
_mg_2658
I served the cranberry aigre-doux over softened cream cheese.
_mg_2649
It is very good with goat cheese as well.
_mg_2655

Serve with croissant toasts, as I did, or water crackers.

Salad and Giving Thanks

46 Comments

This year I didn’t get the opportunity to cook Thanksgiving dinner, which is fine. The typical American Thanksgiving meal is quite involved, especially if you’re trying to make everybody happy and satisfy their requests. You can spend days in the kitchen.

But what one misses out on is Thanksgiving leftovers. And I really missed them this year. Fabulous, hearty and delicious food that reheats well, and is perfect for winter weather.

So I was inspired to create a salad inspired by Thanksgiving dishes, even though I had no leftovers. No problem. Grilled turkey, sausage, rice, wild rice, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, and more.

So the following recipe is more of a guide for a Thanksgiving-inspired salad using your favorite Thanksgiving ingredients. Not all of them – that could get quite messy!

Use rice, barley, wild rice, or even quinoa. And then just have fun with the ingredients. Serve at room temperature with your choice of vinaigrette or citrus-based dressing. Here goes.

Salad for Giving Thanks

Combination of brown and wild rice, cooked
Mini Italian sausage balls, cooked
Cooked Brussels sprouts
Turkey tenderloin
Sliced celery
Toasted pecans
Dried cranberries
Vinaigrette of choice

Have a serving platter large enough for the number of eaters. Plan on large servings, because this salad is delicious and addicting!

Have your rice cooked, and make a layer with it on the platter.
sal
Add the sausage balls, followed by the Brussels sprouts.


I cooked a piece of turkey tenderloin in a skillet, seasoned only with garlic pepper. Many Americans use poultry seasoning. I browned the turkey on both sides, then put on a lid and cooked it until it was 155 in the thickest part.

Place the turkey on a cutting board and let it rest. I sliced the tenderloin, but you could cut it up as well.
chick
Add the turkey to the salad. Then add the celery, pecans, and dried cranberries.

Serve the salad warm or at room temperature, topped with the vinaigrette.
an equal amount of sherry vinegar. I poured the mixture in a blender jar, added one clove of garlic, some salt, and about 2/3 cup of olive oil. Blend and go!

vin

salad1
note: I wouldn’t recommend using 100% wild rice, which is actually a grass and not legally rice. And because of that fact, too much of it creates a texture similar to alfalfa, which I can only imagine eating.

Cranberry Braised Cabbage

10 Comments

A while back when I made cabbage bundles, I only used 12 of the larger, outside leaves of the one green cabbage I purchased. And there was no way I was going to throw away the rest of the par-boiled cabbage. So what to do?

my par-boiled cabbage, sliced

my par-boiled cabbage, sliced

Even though it’s January, I’m still in a festive mood. And, I happen to love braised cabbage, especially because you never have to make it the same way twice. I especially love the look of purple cabbage. Last year I braised cabbage with chestnuts.

cab2
When I make braised cabbage, I typically start with butter and onions. But the fun part is choosing the braising liquids! There’s broth, wine, apple cider, and so forth. In fact, you can add sliced apples or pears along with the onions if you want that flavor as well. Jelly is traditionally added for a little sweetness, but I decided to use my cranberry-cherry chutsauce that I had left over. That made it a way more festive dish, and was a nice compliment to the green cabbage.
cranb1
So here’s what I did.

Braised Cabbage with Cranberry-Cherry Chutsauce

2 ounces butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small cabbage, thinly sliced
White wine, I used a Riesling
Pinch of salt
Cranberry-cherry chutsauce*

Begin by melting the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté them for about 5 minutes.
cab5
Add the sliced cabbage and sauté it for another 5 minutes, being careful that nothing gets close to burning.
cab6
Add about 1/4 of Riesling and the salt. If you’re using raw cabbage, use maybe 1/2 cup of wine; you can always reduce it later.


Bring to a light boil, then cover the pot and cook the cabbage for about 10-15 minutes, or until completely tender. It should be very wilted.

Remove the lid and reduce any remaining liquid in the bottom of the pot.

Add about 2 tablespoons of your choice of cranberry sauce or chutney and stir gently. Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly.


Once heated through, serve alongside pork, ham, duck, or roasted chicken.

cranb2

* My chutsauce recipe is not required for this braised cabbage, and I’m not trying to make anybody use my recipe in order to follow this braised cabbage recipe. Any kind of chunky cranberry sauce, preferably, or chutney with cranberries would be fabulous to sweeten the cabbage and spice things up a little. Especially with the individual berries still intact, as you can see in the photos. That’s what I was after. Just know the sweetness of what you’re adding so you can adjust the taste. I personally enjoy a little sweetness, but I don’t want my braised cabbage to taste like dessert!

Holiday Ebleskiver

30 Comments

Years ago my daughters bought me an ebleskiver pan for my birthday and I was thrilled. They know I love gadgets and different shapes and sizes of baking dishes. Trust me, I had big plans to use this fancy pan on every holiday.

By the way, I’ve also seen the spelling as ebelskiver and aebleskiver. But however the spelling, ebleskiver are round, filled pancakes that are Danish in origin. And they’re fabulous. Although I’ve only made them once.

The following Christmas I decided to make ebleskiver for the family on Christmas morning. The recipe I used came from a Williams-Sonoma catalog. This photo is from the W-S website.
img35o

The pancakes I made were filled with a dried cherry filling. The recipes for the batter and the filling are easy. But I had no idea what I was in for…

Two hours after starting these pancakes, I was finally done. They were stunning and delicious. And I think I’m the only one who ate any of them. One hates carbs, one just wanted a protein shake, one decided they didn’t pair well with bloody marys, and one is a vegetarian. (There is no meat in ebleskiver.)

So I think I learned my lesson. Making these is truly a lot of work, only because they are time consuming, and you really have to park yourself at the stove for a long time. Plus, the pan only makes 7 pancakes at a time.

eb99
So take my advice and don’t make these on a busy holiday, when you’d rather be hanging out with your family.
eb
But this year, I wisely decided to make these ebleskiver the Sunday before Christmas, and freeze them. That way, I can thaw and heat a few at a time, and any non carb-haters who want a delicious pancake bite can enjoy them, which might just be me. I know for a fact that they will pair perfectly with a mimosa.
eb890
So here’s the somewhat adapted recipe from Williams-Sonoma. The filling I used was leftover cranberry jam mixed with dried cranberries. Any kind of jam, jelly, cranberry sauce, or cooked fresh or dried fruit can be used as the filling.

Ebleskiver
Makes 3 dozen

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup ricotta cheese or yogurt cheese
1/2 teaspoon orange oil, or orange zest
5 egg whites in a large bowl
Unsalted butter
Cranberry filling, make sure it’s quite thick

Begin by sieving the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
eb66
In another bowl, combine the egg yolks, buttermilk, ricotta cheese, and orange oil. Whisk well and set aside.
eb44
Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until stiff.


Using the same beaters, whisk the buttermilk mixture until smooth, if it’s lumpy.

Have the ebleskiver pan on the stove heating over low to medium heat. Have butter on hand, and the filling with a teaspoon. Also have a platter for the finished ebleskiver.

Begin making the batter by incorporating the flour into the buttermilk mixture. It will almost look like biscuit dough.


Then gently but forcibly fold the egg whites into the batter. Place a spoon in the batter and set the bowl near the stove.

Add about 1/2 teaspoon of butter to the indentations in the pan. Notice I just did a few to start. I really couldn’t remember how challenging the whole process was, and I didn’t want to ruin any.
eb55
Add approximately no more than 1 tablespoon of batter into each indentation. Add a very small amount of filling – about 1/2 teaspoon – on to the top of the batter. Then top with a scant tablespoon of batter.

Let them cook for about 3 minutes. They should not brown more than a golden color, but they might burn slightly if the sweet filling sneaks out.

Now here’s the fun part. The recipe says to use two forks to turn these guys over. Good luck with that. I ended up mostly using my fingers, because I must not have good fork coordination. I even tried with two wooden tools that you can see being used in the top photo, but still no luck. But somehow get them turned over and continue cooking them for another 3 minutes.


I did figure out that instead of worrying about turning them completely over at one time, it can be done gently in baby steps.

So now you can see I’ve become a little braver, and making all seven at one time!

Turn them out to the platter, and continue with the rest of the batter, unless you decided enough is enough and toss the batter and eat your 7 ebleskiver.

Open one up to make sure it’s properly cooked. They should be fluffy – not doughy or dry and tough.
eb789
I purposely omitted putting sugar in the batter, which was in the original recipe, and instead sprinkled a little powdered sugar over the ebleskiver. It just makes them prettier!
eb2
I decided to try them with real maple syrup as well. Really yummy!
eb4
Ebleskiver really are amazing, and the cranberry filling makes them holiday perfect!!!
eb7
And if you decide to buy one of these pans, don’t forget to try them with cheese for a fabulous savory treat! That’s next on my list!!!
eb6
Happy Holidays!

Cran-Cherry Chutsauce

38 Comments

As you might deduce, this recipe is a cross between a traditional cranberry sauce and a chutney, using a combination of fresh cranberries and dried cherries. My husband voted for chutsauce over sauceney…

Every November I make small batches of at least two different kinds of both cranberry sauces and fruit chutneys, because I love them so much. Sadly, I’m the only one who really enjoys them in my family, so I can’t make large batches. But to me, they’re so much fun to make, fun to experiment with, and just a good festive thing to do in the kitchen – with Christmas carols playing, of course.
crancherry1
This chutney-sauce would be fabulous with turkey or pork or duck, but it would also be a pretty and delicious topping a slab of cream cheese.

The recipe that caught my eye was on Epicurious.com right here. I altered it quite a bit.
crancherry2
Cranberry Cherry Chutney Sauce

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 purple onion, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
1/4 cup white sugar
12 ounces clean, sorted cranberries

crancherry22]
7 ounces dried, pitted cherries*
3/4 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1/4 cup ruby port
1/4 cup water

Place the butter in a medium-sized enamel pot over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the onion and saute them for about 5 minutes, without any extreme browning.
crancherry11
Add the salt, brown sugar, and white sugar. Stir together and cook until the sugar dissolves.


Add the cranberries, cherries, and the Chinese 5-spice powder. Give everything a stir.

Then add the port and water. Let everything cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat. It should take about 15 minutes until all of the cranberries have popped and the liquid is reduced.
crancherry6
Remove from the stove and let cool completely.
crancherry
To store, place the chutney sauce in clean jars, cover, and refrigerate. Or, alternatively, freeze the chutsauce/sauceney until needed.
crancherry4
* I used dried Rainier cherries, which are extremely large. The original recipe listed 1 cup of dried cherries, but didn’t indicate the size or kind of dried cherries, so I weighed mine instead of measuring out 1 cup. You can adjust according to what kind of dried cherries you use; dried cranberries can be substituted as well.

note: Instead of port or just water, which was in the original recipe, consider using a liqueur, like an orange liqueur, or just orange juice or pomegranate juice. It all works to help plump up the cherries and cook the cranberries. Orange zest could be included in this recipe as well.

Tablescape

69 Comments

I am not Martha Stewart. Nor do I want to be. Because people would hate me. I really like having friends who like me, and I especially like having daughters who aren’t doing a TV show making fun of me. So I’m totally okay with not being a wannabe Martha Stewart.

She’s been in the news lately because of her hateful comments towards bloggers – regarding our non-professionalism in the kitchen – even though it doesn’t seem that Ms. Stewart herself attended cooking school of any kind. So that’s a bit hypocritical of her. Many of us are self-taught, including you, Ms. Stewart.

And, let’s face a major biographical fact – this woman has been to prison. I haven’t.

But with all that being said, Ms. Stewart must be revered to some extent, at least I feel this way, for the fact that she really has good taste. She has fabulous resources, of course we would all as well if we were zillionaires, and is extremely creative and crafty.

I’m not sure if Ms. Stewart herself coined the term “tablescape,” however it’s become a commonplace appellation for the design of the party table. And if you look at her magazines or her entertaining books, Ms. Stewart is very talented at designing tablescapes. Or maybe her people are. I’m not sure.

I’m really envious of anyone who is creative in this way. Just look at Pinterest and you’ll know what I mean, just in case you’re one of the millions who hasn’t looked at Pinterest.

So I had a Christmas party a few days before Christmas in 2013. Normally I would have put clipped poinsettias and placed them in three or five vases along the middle of the buffet table and called it done. I probably would have used a green tablecloth, because that’s festive. My dining room is painted red, so the red and green would make things really festive, right? You can tell by my blog that I love colors, but I especially love red and green.

However, I have been saving this Pinterest pin on my Christmas “board” forever. Here it is:
wine-bottle-candlestick-centerpiece

This photo comes from this blog. The photo was from a wedding sit-down dinner; the white candles really add the wedding “feel” of the celebration. Beautiful.

So many years ago, because of this photographic inspiration, I forced myself to drink 13 bottles of Clean Slate Riesling, because I thought the bottles would be perfect for a buffet table. I didn’t know when I’d use them, I just knew I would…some day.

They’re fairly clear bottles – not aqua, and not dark green. Then I removed the labels, washed the bottles, and stored them in our basement. Until recently.

I decided to use the wine bottle-candle idea for my Christmas party! I really got excited, because for once I wanted to try my hand at a creative tablescape. Something beyond red and green.

I decided to go the non-color route, and started gathering goodies. More in natural tones, and a lot about nature. And then, it all just fell into place.

I found these beautiful carved wooden birds at my local florist shop.

party

Aren’t they really adorable?
party1

I purchased the dried clove-studded oranges and lemons, and included some pinecones my husband scavenged on a walk with the dogs.

party2

I then found some faux cherries, added faux walnuts, and threw in some raw cranberries for a little more color, at the last minute, of course.

party3

Right after the food was placed on the table, my husband lit the candles, and it all came to life.

party4

Since this is a cooking blog, I will tell you what I served for my Christmas party:

Smoked Scottish salmon with pumpernickel triangles
Cranberry Wensleydale and Cambazola with assorted crackers
Maple Pecan Baked brie
Pâté de foie and onion confit with cranberries, served with baguette slices
Roasted beef tenderloin sandwiches with apple-butter mustard
plus a variety of sweets, including Sugarplums, which were a huge hit

This may not be your style, but I am very proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone a bit and trying my hand at holiday creativity. I was very pleased at the subdued, natural look of the goodies strewn along the center of the table, and candle light just can’t be beat.

Happy New Year to all of you!