World’s Easiest Cranberry Sauce

I've always made this, I don't care if everyone thinks Delia invented cranberries, she can just sod off.

  • Take a pack or box of cranberries.
  • Put them in a saucepan and just cover with orange juice.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer until the berries pop.
  • Sprinkle all over with sugar, stir it in.
  • Simmer until it's all syrupy.
  • Put in a bowl and serve hot or cold.

There.

You can ring the changes with the liquid, although it needs some pectin / acid, and the amount and type of sugar, depending on how you like it. If you start with sugar in the liquid, the skins toughen and you will get whole berries in a thick jelly, which is fine if that's what you want, I prefer more of a jam. You can add shreds of orange peel, slivered nuts, whatever stuff takes your fancy.

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Cranberry Lime Chutney

We've been clearing out a bit, and I came across a box file full of my old American magazines. A copy of Cuisine, from December 1984, not only had full-page ads for cigarettes, but also some interesting recipes. This Cranberry Lime Chutney was a reader request from Rooney's restaurant in Rochester NY, where it was served with mesquite-grilled mallard breast. It's really simple, just put all the ingredients in a heavy pan, boil, simmer, stirring, until thick, which should take about 45 minutes. It looks like a proper preserving chutney, there's enough sugar and acid in there, it would certainly keep a while in a sealed jar in the fridge. They suggest that you could serve it warm.

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large orange, peeled, pith removed, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 medium tart apple (Granny Smith) peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice

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Red Couscous

Following the M&S couscous salad the other week, I decided to make something similar for a party tomorrow. I got down a big mixing bowl, and:

Filled it about a third full with dry couscous and added a little salt and enough boiling water to cover it plus about half an inch, and left it for 5 minutes.

Got out the food processor and roughly chopped:

  • a large red onion
  • a seedless clementine
  • half a packet of frozen raw cranberries
  • a handful of organic dried apricots

When the couscous had absorbed all the water, I fluffed it up and added the veggie mix, along with a drained tin of chickpeas. I would have put in two tins if I'd had them, it would have improved the texture.

Then I put the processor back together again (unrinsed) and blended:

  • a huge bunch of fresh coriander, stalks and all
  • orange juice (about a mugful)
  • lemon juice (about a half a cup)
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • enough olive oil to make it look like a salad dressing
  • lots of spices, biggest amount first - mixed spice, cinnamon, paprika, ginger, oregano, thyme, cardamom, nutmeg
  • three heaped teaspoons chopped garlic from the jar

until the coriander was quite finely chopped, then I poured it over the couscous.

Before I mixed it in I also added:

  • a handful of very good dried sweetened cranberries, that were almost like glace cherries
  • a mugful of raisins
  • a mugful of flaked almonds
  • half a mug of dried barberries
  • half a mug of dried pomegranate seeds
  • half a mug of raw pumpkin seeds

I stirred it all well, and topped it up by sprinkling some of the still hot water over it – when the dressing starts to get absorbed it will dry out. It felt like making a really good Christmas pudding.

Tomorrow I will taste it again, and see if it needs more salt, I don't use a lot of salt automatically anymore and tend not to add enough. Also for sweetness – it's going to be one of those things that initially tastes very sharp but has a lot of lasting sweetness in it, so the first taste might need mellowing and the longer tones sharpening – honey and onion will do that nicely. And for heat – it will need just a little kick and some more paprika or even cayenne might be in order.

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M&S couscous salad

Marks has a fruity couscous salad at the moment, which is dead yummy and consists of: about half cooked turmeric couscous, mixed with: chickpeas, oranges, red onions, raisins, apricots, sugar, cranberries (fresh), fresh coriander, and some bland oils.

It's dressed with a mixture of: lemon juice, soft brown sugar, wildflower honey, orange juice, salt, sunflower oil, cinnamon, garlic puree, black pepper, cumin, ginger puree, ground coriander, smoked paprika, cayenne, turmeric.

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Ultra Spiced Christmas Bread

Oops. I misread teaspoons and tablespoons again, this might be a bit much. Then again, it might not, so I thought I'd better write it down. From the bread machine recipe book, with extras:

Basic White, Bake Raisin, Extra Large, 4 hours

  • 1.25 tsps yeast
  • 1 lb 5 oz strong white flour
  • 1.5  tbsps sugar
  • 1 oz butter
  • 2 tbsps milk powder
  • 1.5 tsps salt
  • 400 ml water
  • In the raisin dispenser – 5 oz mixed dried fruit – today we have cranberries, blueberries, and cherries – and 3 tbsps (should be 3 tsps cinnamon) mixed spice – 1 tbsp ground cardamom, 1.5 tbsps speculaas spice, 0.5 tbsps cinnamon.

It's in the machine now, we'll see what happens …

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Christmas Day menu

Breakfast:

Beetroot-cured salmon, blinis, hardboiled quail eggs, creme fraiche, Ovruga fake caviar, chives and dill. Champagne or clementine juice, coffee.

Dinner:

Glass of Taylor's Chip Dry White Port, chilled.

Roast goose, goosefat roast potatoes, butter roast parsnips, sausages in bacon, sage and onion stuffing balls, plain boiled sprouts, petits pois, ginger cream sauce, port and redcurrant gravy. Choice of spiced pickled pears, sweet spiced prunes, cherry compote, cranberry and horseradish relish. Chateau Neuf du Pape.

Christmas pudding with cream or white sauce or rum butter. Orange Muscat Flora.

Coffee and Bendicks mints.

Late supper:

Winter apple, Comte cheese, clementine.

Phew.

 

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Dried Fig and Sour Cherry Chutney

A Nick Nairn recipe from Good Food December 2001. Dried figs are great, we always have them around on the holidays, but there's also usually quite a lot left over. This says serve straightaway or "leave to mature", which probably means it's a bit late to make for this year, but making it in January time and putting somewhere dark and cool for several months would work. This quantity says to make 1.5 pints, which is a couple of reasonable size preserving jars or one big one.

 

  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 in piece root ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsps mustard seeds (doesn't say what colour)
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 3 x 75 gm packets dried sour cherries (or cranberries)
  • 250 gms / 9 oz dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 1 cooking apple, peeled and chopped
  • 100gms / 4 oz light muscovado
  • 100 ml / 3.5 fl oz red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic, 2 -3 minutes. Add ginger, mustard, chilli, dried fruit, apple and sugar, salt and pepper and stir well. Pour in the vinegar and 300 mls / half pint cold water. Stir and boil. Simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, make sure it doesn't catch, or until the liquid has nearly all evaporated and the chutney is thick. Serve as is or put in a sterilised preserving jar and mature.

Sounds good – texture, acid versus sweet versus heat, all the elements of a good chutney. Not sure I'd use red wine vinegar, cider would be fine and slightly lighter. It's not so easy now to get the dried sour cherries, the supermarkets seem to have switched to sweeter ones. But I get barberries (sumac berries) from the local Middle-Eastern grocer, which are really sharp sharp sharp, and a mixture of those with the sweet cherries has worked well in vodka flavourings. Some asafoetida (hing) would give some of the sourness back as well.

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