She wore a CRANBERRY beret..
I just adore cranberry sauce. I love cranberry sauce so much that I make THREE versions and often also open a can of jellied kind because I LOVE CRANBERRY SAUCE. Something about the tart and sweet contrast of cranberry brings me joy. When I was first vegetarian, a million years ago, I got really into making an epic stuffing/dressing since that essentially became my main dish. I still have the pan from my first year at the Friend Thanksgiving a group of us did each year in college. It's green. It's my stuffing pan for life. Sorry, I totally can't stop calling it stuffing even though I don't stuff if in anything, it's ingrained in my soul that this is what it's called. Anyway, stuffing is so rich and savory, that a tart and sweet and bright cranberry sauce is an automatic perfect best friend for stuffing, and I started making that too. Hopefully one of these (or all of them) can become a part of your traditions.
Grandma Ralpha's Cranberry Orange Relish
It all started with my grandma Ralpha's recipe, which became my mom's standby, and is now mine. I know my grandma Ralpha didn't learn the recipe from her mother, but I'm not joining Ancestory.com to get to the bottom of this- I'm just giving the credit to Ralpha and assuming it's her own recipe. Born and raised in Sacramento, California, where cranberries don't grow, Ralpha was surrounded by orange trees, so her relish is a combination of the classic and the convenient- with some sugar to bring it all together.
1 bag cranberries
1 whole orange (cut in slices with skin on and try to get out most seeds)
Sugar or maple syrup or dates to taste (lots if you are my mom)
Simply blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender (if using a high speed blender, keep it at a low setting and pulse because there will be seeds from the orange and you want it like a relish, not a puree) and then add sugar and adjust to taste. This really does vary. I like it really tart and have done it with just some dates for sweetener, my mom likes a cup or more of sugar. Just make it how to like it. You can make it the day of Thanksgiving, but it's best if it can sit overnight instead.
Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish Gone Vegan
If you listen to NPR during the Thanksgiving season, you've maybe heard of the Susan Stamberg's family recipe for cranberry relish that looks like Pepto Bismol and tastes amazing in spite of a strange collection of ingredients. Although most cranberry sauce is obviously vegan, this recipe requires 2 tweaks. First, it calls for sour cream. I use either Tofutti Sour Supreme or 3/4 of a cup of raw cashews with just enough water to cover them blended until smooth. The other ingredient that is sometimes hard to source vegan is prepared horseradish. Most brands have egg in them. Bubbles is my favorite vegan choice, if it's available, but I can't find it locally, so I've had to order it. I like this one and it's a great savory addition to brown gravy too, in case you aren't sure what to do with leftover. I also like to use maple syrup instead of sugar, but either works well. Make sure you blend this in a food processor rather than a blender so it is chunky and doesn't become a liquid. You want bits of onion, bits of cranberry, all in a pink sauce.
Mama Stamberg's recipe suggests freezing and leaving it partially frozen. I've tried this, and honestly I prefer it chilled, but not frozen. It's such an odd combination of flavors and so delicious, but that texture addition of icy bits just doesn't do it for me. This is great on sandwiches too, if you have leftovers. Once you become addicted to the odd onion/sugar/horseradish/cranberry flavor weirdness, you'll just want to eat it with a spoon.
Recently, I was thinking about this post and how a friend with food allergies she's working around, and I thought Tofutti (soy-based) and cashews (a not-so-common allergen) might make this impossible, so I was trying to think of another way to make it creamy. I decided to try a batch with no creamy addition. It was still really good. It still hits all those flavor notes, just doesn't have the creamy consistency. So, if allergies or preference have you avoiding some of that stuff, you can make it without.
Sweet and Spicy Cooked Cranberry Jelly
If you are on Facebook, you can watch me make this in real time- and the whole process start to finish is under 17 minutes. This is inspired by the familiar sweet flavor of the classic canned cranberry sauce but with some warming spices and a pepper kick!
1 12oz bag fresh cranberries
1/2- 1 cup maple syrup (I prefer it a little less sweet, but I made it with the full cup too and that's more like the sweetness of canned)
1 cinnamon stick
3 slices of ginger root about 1/4 inch thick
zest of one lemon (or lime or orange)
1 jalapeno (totally optional. I made one batch with and one without and both were yummy and even without it has a nice warming spice)
Put everything in a pot and cook over medium heat until all the cranberries are soft and it gets a jelly-like consistency stirring so it won't burn to the sides or bottom (about 13 minutes). Take out the cinnamon stick and ginger slices and serve warm or cold. Great on sandwiches.
If you have leftover cranberries because you got over-zealous and thought you would make 5 cranberry sauces this week... Like some people might have... You can juice the fresh cranberries or add them to your smoothie. I made this juice twice this week and loved it:
1 12oz bag cranberries
Not only is is tart, sweet, and super packed with antioxidants, but it's also a really pretty salmon color.
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