What To Do With All These Cranberries?
Every year, when the first fresh cranberries arrive in the market, I buy several packages and freeze them. I love the bright splash of flavor raw cranberries bring to roasted vegetables; add them ten minutes before the vegetables are done and they’ll be lightly caramelized. I enjoy cranberry chutney, cranberry jam, and cranberry bread, and am always experimenting with different takes on cranberry relishes cooked or raw. This year, however, I apparently went a little wild, since a recent rummage through the freezer turned up six large packages of cranberries. Hmmm. Here’s what I’ve got so far…
Savory Cranberry Relish With Maple Pecans
Spicy-tart and just a little sweet, this snappy relish adds zest to hearty holiday feasts. It’s tasty right away but a day or two in the refrigerator lets the flavors meld and intensify. Bright and lively, it provides a perfect counterbalance to rich foods and makes an intriguing dressing for a fresh cabbage-and-carrot slaw. It’s especially delicious when some spicy candied nuts are mixed in at the last minute to preserve their crunchiness.
Candied nuts are seriously irresistible, especially when we add a dash of smoked hot paprika and a sprinkle of sea salt to the maple syrup base. Indeed, this method works wonders with any kind of nuts, from almonds to cashews, or hazelnuts or pecans, or peanuts or even pumpkin seeds. If you don’t eat them all before meal time, use these crunchy tidbits as a garnish for steamed vegetables, toss them into a salad or chop them and fold them into unsalted butter to slather on a warm cinnamon roll. For a vegan version, use avocado oil in place of butter; they’re just as scrumptious! I make these in a 2-egg sized cast iron frying pan but a heavy-bottomed saucepan works fine too.
Savory Maple (Wal)nuts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or avocado oil
1 cup walnut halves or any nuts/seeds
2 tablespoons dark maple syrup (Grade B)
Pinch-1/8 teaspoon smoked hot or mild paprika
1/8-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or flaked sea salt
In a small, heavy-bottomed pan, bring butter or oil to a sizzle over medium heat. Add nuts, stir to coat, then cook until lightly browned (2-3 minutes), shaking pan often. Add maple syrup and stir until syrup is thick and bubbly and nuts are well coated (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and gently toss nuts with paprika and salt to taste, then spoon onto parchment paper and push apart so they dry individually. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed glass jar for up to a week. Makes 1 cup.
Raw Cranberry Ginger Relish Or Dressing
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed
1 organic orange, chopped
1 organic lime, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
or 1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup spiced candied nuts, chopped (optional)
Combine first five ingredients in a food processor and grind to a fine slurry, adjusting sweetener to taste. Chill until serving time, then add chopped nuts (if using). Makes about 3 cups.
Flip-Flopped And Fabulous
The first time I made this luscious cake, I used a heavy frying pan with a long handle that made the flip-flopping part so awkward that the cake went sliding face down across the (fortunately flat) stovetop. Fortunately, a quickly brushed on layer of apricot jam hid the damage and the cake tasted marvelous despite the cosmetic accident. This lovely adaptation of an old fashioned favorite is also excellent when made with tart pie cherries or fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries.
Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup hazelnuts or almonds, chopped
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons avocado or vegetable oil
1 orange, juiced, rind grated
1/2 cup apricot jam or red currant jelly, hot
Preheat oven to bake 350 degrees F. In a heavy 9- or 10-inch iron frying pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles. Remove from heat and evenly layer on cranberries and nuts, set aside. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg. Stir in the egg, oil, orange rind and 3 tablespoons orange juice to make a thick batter. Spoon batter over the cranberries and bake until cake is golden and firm to the touch (30-35 minutes). Cool for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate and coat berries with hot jelly, which will be liquid enough to apply with a clean pastry brush. (Spoon it on if you don’t have a brush.) Serves 8-10.
Vegan Chocolate Pudding
For lots of folks, treats aren’t treats if there’s no chocolate involved. This remarkably toothsome recipe comes from Harmony Hill Retreat Center, nestled above the Hood Canal. Harmony Hill is a peaceful and stunningly beautiful place for any event or get together; the accommodations are charming, and the largely vegetarian or vegan food is spectacular. Harmony Hill is also home to a series of retreats for people whose lives are touched by cancer, and I can attest first hand to the powerful emotional and spiritual healing such retreats can foster. Thanks to generous donor support, the cancer retreats and workshops are offered at no cost to participants.
Over the years, this favorite vegan recipe from Harmony Hill’s kitchen has pleased every chocolate lover at my table. If you don’t mention the ingredients, no one will ever guess that it’s based on tofu, which adds extra protein to this creamy and satisfying dessert. Be sure to use silken (boxed) tofu or the texture may be grainy.
Chocolate Silk Pudding
1-1/2 cups firm silken tofu (1 box)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 teaspoons vanilla
few grains sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. You can also use an immersion stick blender and prepare this right in the serving bowl. Serve immediately or chill. Serves 4.
May the coming year bring you both peace and adventure!