Cranberries. They are mandatory at Thanksgiving, but I don’t know too many people to elbow someone out of the way to get to the cranberry sauce. It’s weird, you only see the stuff once a year, and wouldn’t it be better to save room for pie?

Due to European friends’ fascination with cranberries, I thought that they were found only on the North American continent, but I am mistaken (or at least Wikipedia tells me so). As it turns out, the humble cranberry is not solely indigenous to Canada and the United States, but it is cultivated in Europe. It’s not seen much in markets, however, so they’ve left creativity and uses for it to us Americans. So here you are, two cranberry recipes that have absolutely nothing to do with that congealed, canned glob that no one ever eats at Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy!

Merry Cranberry, or Cranberry Salsa

Cranberry Salsa --photo credit www.dishmaps.com

Cranberry Salsa
–photo credit http://www.dishmaps.com

My father-in-law deserves the credit for introducing us to this concoction. We were all spending the holidays up in Montana, where a common evening activity is playing cards. Elvin came out of the kitchen with a big bowl of this chopped red stuff and some lime tortilla chips. We had no idea what it was, but since that leg of lamb he’d grilled had been so fantastic, who were we to not experiment?

We. Could. Not. Stop. Eating. It.

For those of you wondering how to serve this, might I recommend putting it in an airtight container for a few hours and then serving it on those lime tortilla chips. Perfection!

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into 3 inch lengths
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Sugar to taste. Depending on how sweet/tart you like things, I’ve generally added anywhere from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop cranberries. (I really hope that you have a food chopper, or better yet, a food processor.)
  2. Seed and mince jalapeno. Add jalapeno to chopped cranberries.
  3. Mince green onions and add to chopped cranberries.
  4. Add lime juice, sugar, and salt to the chopped cranberries. Stir well.
  5. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Serve at room temperature.

Erin’s Cheats

  • Get a good food processor. You’ll love it and use it for lots of things, like chopping cranberries and nuts. And when you’re done, you can use it to crush some ice for a tasty adult beverage.
  • If you like a bit more heat, don’t worry about seeding the jalapeno.
  • I’m of the “I loathe cilantro” tribe, so I never add cilantro to this recipe. Some, however, love the stuff, so they’ll stem one bunch and chop the leaves, adding it to the mix.
  • I’ve seen versions that use ginger, cumin, and the like. I’ve never tried them, but I must confess that I one day will as they sound completely yummy.

Cranberry Bread

cranberrybread

Homemade Cranberry Bread –photo credite http://www.thesisterscafe.com

 

My mother used to make cranberry bread every year at the holidays. Everyone thought it amazing for one simple reason: it was. She brought it up to the ski hill, tucked in into gifts, sent it home with visiting friends. I thought that she had made the recipe up as she was the only one I know to make it, but then I discovered it on the back of the bag of cranberries. That’s when I started making it myself for friends and neighbors at the holidays.

Well done, mum, well done!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Grease and flour a 9″ x 5″-inch loaf pan. (See Erin’s Cheats below.)
  3. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening, and egg. Mix until well blended.
  4. Stir in cranberries and nuts.
  5. Spread evenly in greased and floured loaf pan.
  6. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from pan; cool completely.
  9. Wrap tightly in two layers of tinfoil. Can be stored in the freezer, making it an easy grab as a hostess gift as you head out the door.

Erin’s Cheats

  • Go to Target and get those miniature loaf pans. Alternatively, find someone that does Pampered Chef and get the stoneware miniature loaf pan. I’ve used both variants, and both have made this easier and less expensive.
  • Baker’s Joy, which is this non-stick spray with flour. It’s found in the sugar/spice/flour/baking supplies aisle, and it will save you the step of greasing and flouring pans. If you’re in heavy-duty baking mode, this is a nice time saver.
  • Penzeys Spices has a large jar of dried orange peel. This is much, much, much easier to use in place of zesting oranges.

I must also confess to making an apple-cranberry pie for the Thanksgiving table, but I’ll save that for a different post. Right now, I’m off to use my food processor to pulverize some ice. Holiday beverages are calling!