Monday, December 01, 2008

respect the cranberry

The cranberry, that tart symbol of holiday cheer and over the top gluttony. I love cranberries because they provide perfect balance when combined with both sweet and savory foods. From one bag of fresh cranberries I got two holiday dishes - a lovely classic cranberry sauce, and a sweet cakey cranberry cornbread. Ironically, in the end I discovered that spreading the sauce on the cornbread was the best possible use of both dishes.

Both of these dishes were afterthoughts. I woke up on Thanksgiving morning with my now-familiar sleep deprivation hangover and wondered if I would have the energy to put together the meal I had planned for my invalid J-Cat. I regretted that I didn't buy a big cranberry cornbread from Amy's Bread the day before, because it was delicious and I really wanted more, and I didn't think I could duplicate it. But then I realized that I had a bag of fresh cranberries and I wasn't even planning to do anything with it that day, so why not?

The bread was simple - a classic sweet cornbread with the addition of halved cranberries. That used up about 1 cup of the berries, so the rest I boiled down into a cranberry sauce with spices and golden raisins. All in all it took no more than 30 minutes of prep time and I had two perfect dishes for even the smallest and laziest of Thanksgiving dinners. Recipes after the jump:

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup golden raisins

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Add the cranberries and return to boil. Lower to a simmer, add the cinnamon stick and nutmeg, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until the cranberries burst. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the golden raisins. Allow to cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge. The sauce will thicken as it cools.


1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup cranberries, halved

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Fold in cranberries.

Transfer to a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

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