Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cranberry Chutney

Still have some cranberries? This is the other holiday recipe I look forward to all year long.

I crave the surprising blend of sweet and tart! It's a delicious addition to meat and fish, but my favorite way to eat is on a cracker with a bit of cream cheese. Get creative!

Cranberry Chutney

In a saucepan, simmer for 5 minutes:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
Then add:
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries
Simmer for another 15 minutes, or till thickened. I mash the cranberries a bit with a fork as they soften. Allow to cool.

This chutney will keep for up to six months in the fridge.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cranberry Cake with Caramel Sauce

This is one recipe in particular that has been a long-time family favorite, and something that I greatly anticipate making every Holiday season. It just wouldn't seem like Christmas without it.

It is made with fresh cranberries, their natural tartness a perfect contrast to the sweet caramel sauce. Even those who do not care for cranberries reach for a second piece of this dessert!

Cranberry Cake
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar (I only use 1/2 cup and prefer dehydrated cane juice crystals)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
Cream the butter and sugar. Stir in water, milk, flour, salt and soda. Mix well. Fold in the cranberries.

Pour into greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 until golden brown. Serve with warm sauce.

Caramel Sauce
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Place all ingredients except vanilla in a saucepan on low heat. Bring to boil and stir constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve hot over cake.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Herb Bread

My family loves bread and baked goods. I often find myself throwing together muffins or baking soda biscuits at the last minute to complement our dinner meal.

Last evening, I tried something new. It's a yeast bread, but by condensing to only one rise time it can be brought to the table in almost the amount of time as any 'quick bread' recipe.

It was a hit with everyone! It was soft and filling, the subtle herbs giving enough flavor that only butter was needed to top each slice. I love that you can tweak the herbs to include whatever you would like to fit your own tastes. This time, I happened to have fresh parsley and dried thyme on hand, so that's what I used.

I think that those little dried tomato pieces I've seen would be absolutely lovely as well. Or a bit of garlic and sage. The possibilities are endless!

I didn't have any soft butter and was too impatient to wait, so I used 2 Tablespoons natural shortening. It's non-hydrogenated, which is important to me. I still limit my usage of it, though.

The kind of flour you use in baking affects the nutrition the most. I prefer to use freshly milled soft white wheat. When I don't want to take the time to grind wheat berries (or the children are sleeping and I don't want to wake them with the loud mill) I use unbleached whole grain white flour.

Herb Bread
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons or more fresh or dried herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc)
Mix together 2 cups of the flour, yeast and sugar. Stir in the salt, water, butter and herbs. Knead for several minutes. (I used an electric mixer) Add in the remaining cup of flour and knead by hand until smooth.

Place in a greased and warmed large bread pan. (I like to warm my bread pans for a minute in the oven, which helps the dough rise quickly even on chilly days.) Cover with a towel and let rise until double.

Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes. It should be well browned on top.

Now here's the hardest part... Let loaf cool on wire rack several minutes before slicing and eating!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

Up until a few months ago, I had never used leeks in my cooking recipes. Once I took the plunge, I have fallen in love with their subtle flavor.

Leeks look like over sized scallions, and in fact are in the same family to onions. They have a similar taste to onions, but are more delicate and don't overpower the other flavors in your recipe. Their nutritive value and support to healthy ovaries as well as cholesterol and blood sugar levels are just added bonuses.

Only the white and light green parts are used.

I love how they perfectly compliment the potatoes in this recipe to create a hearty but very simple meal.

Potato Leek Soup
  • 3 leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 6-12 potatoes, diced (peel optional)
  • spices and seasonings to taste

Saute chopped leeks in butter, in a large pot. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes , or until leeks are tender. Do not brown!

Add broth and potatoes, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or more, until potatoes are tender.

Using a potato masher, mash soup until creamy. Add salt, pepper, herbs and other seasonings to taste.

This leftover soup, if you are fortunate enough to have any, will taste even better the following day!
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