How to make Cranberry Sauce – easier than you think!

Dear Tyler:

Cranberry Sauce is easier than you think! Glad you asked. It is very exciting to be cooking your first Thanksgiving Feast! So here is the recipe you asked for:

How to make cranberry sauce

Forget the can. Grab a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar and some water, oranges and sherry (a fortified wine, like Marsala) and we can have an array of cranberry sauces to amaze everyone.

Here are 3 super easy and full of flavor cranberry sauces. The only one I don’t think you’ll try is the sherry one, but one day, perhaps you will enjoy the complexity of flavors of sherry and cranberry.

The first recipe is found on nearly every bag of fresh cranberries.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-16 ounce bag of fresh cranberries or equivalent  of frozen berries.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

Put it all in the pot and bring to a boil

Add all ingredients to a  deep sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at an active simmer for 5 minutes.

Boil then actively simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold with roasted or grilled meats. Especially Thanksgiving Turkey!

Cranberry Orange Sauce

  • 1 orange, cut into quarters
  • 1 12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch salt

Remove the pithy core and seeds’ cut into quarters. Use a blender or food processor to puree.

Remove the seeds and the pithy core. Add the oranges, cranberries and sugar to a food processor or blender and puree until almost smooth. Thin with either cranberry or orange juice if needed.

Process until smooth

Place in a container and serve with just about whatever you want. I like turkey especially.

If you make this with frozen cranberries, you get a sorbet like consistency. Delicious!

Sherried Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12-16 ounce bag of fresh cranberries or equivalent  of frozen berries.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
Cranberry Sauce 003

Cranberry Sauce 003 (Photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain)

Add all ingredients to a  deep sauce pan, except the sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at an active simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the sherry. Blend until smooth if desired. Strain if you want a smooth sauce.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold with roasted or grilled meats.

These are the 3 most popular cranberry sauces our family uses.

So here you go. You can now carry on Turkey traditions!

3 Cranberry sauces from left to right: Orange Cranberry, Easy Cranberry Sauce and Sherried Cranberry Sauce

Tomorrow:

Since you are cooking your first turkey Thursday, I’ll write a post on:

How to Roast a Turkey

Love,

Mom

Artichokes!

Artichokes from the market

I found the most amazing artichokes in the farmers market this week. They were huge and hybrids. These artichokes did not have any of the thorns or much of a “choke’ inside either.

The woman at the market asked me “how do you cook them so they are tender?”

Steam them.

I had to find a domed lid to fit the steamer; the artichoke was so big!

All I did with this artichoke is cut the stem so it would fit in the pot with the lid on it and steam. It had to be steamed for about an hour and 15 minutes. Once the water came to a boil, the heat was turned down to low. You will need to check the water level to be sure you don’t burn up a good pot.

If you find the non-hybrid type that have the small thorn on each leaf, you will need to use the kitchen shears and clip them off. After your cut a few, wipe the edges with a cut lemon to prevent the artichoke from turning black.

Any cut you make on a raw artichoke, swipe it with a piece of cut lemon to preserve the color and keep it from oxidizing.

You can tell the artichoke is done cooking when the leaves pull off easily and a knife is easily inserted into the base of the artichoke with no resistance. Do this from the bottom so as not to ruin the presentation.

There are a lot of things you can do with an artichoke but today, I am just steaming it and serving it with a couple of sauces.

We will eat it as an hors d’ oeuvre with aperitif before dinner. Serving like this is also an interesting way to put out a snack when guests and friends come visit. We usually gather in the front yard about an hour or so before dinner and friends join us for great conversations, drinks and sometimes an hors d’ oeuvre or two.

A word of caution, artichokes make cheap red wine taste great and good red wine taste awful. So if you are serving artichokes, serve a decent inexpensive red wine.

Please don’t go down as low as Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck. That is truly awful stuff. The only thing that makes that better is pouring it down the drain.

The sauces:

Yogurt Sour Cream Sauce

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Sprinkle of sweet paprika for garnish

Mix it all together. Sprinkle sweet paprika lightly over the top.

Let is rest to allow the flavors to blend.

Dip artichoke leaves in sauce.

Lemon Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Melt the butter, add the juice of the lemon and 1/2 of the zest. Warm through.

Place a couple of slices of lemon in the bowl to serve. Dip artichoke leaves into sauce.

How do you eat a whole artichoke?

Starting at the bottom base, carefully pull a leaf off. It should separate easily. Dip in sauce if desired.

Place the inside of the leaf against your bottom teeth, lightly bite down and scrape the artichoke flesh off the leaf with your bottom teeth and discard the remaining leaf. You have to pull the leaf to effectively scrape it against your teeth.

As you consume the leaves, the bottom will become visible. Once all the leaves have been consumed, you will find a “choke” in the very center. It is anchored by the bottom of the artichoke.

The "choke"
Notice how fuzzy it is; not leaf like at all

Scrape the choke away from the bottom; discard

The cleaned artichoke bottom

This is how it looks upside down

Cut artichoke bottom ready to use in salads, dips, etc.

You do not eat the choke because it is inedible and if you attempt to eat it, you will choke!

Scrape away the choke and eat the bottom. For this part, you will need a knife and fork.

You can always save it for slicing, mashing into Spinach Artichoke dip, salads or leave it whole and stuff it for a completely different dish.

If you have any leaves left over, scrape the flesh from the leaves with a spoon and make soup, salad dressings or use the artichoke scrapings in stuffing. There isn’t much shape to the scraping, use it like you would something mashed.

You can try making them the Roman way too. (Thanks, Barbara!)

Steamed Artichoke with Yogurt Sour Cream Dip and Crispy Kale Chips

Thai Style “Green Sauce”

We went to “Thai Taste” for lunch the other day. On the table were several bottles of different sauces. One soy, a hot fiery red sauce and this green sauce. It was simply delicious.

We bought a pint of it to bring home, not only to enjoy over several meals, but to figure out just what is in this Thai Style Green Sauce so I could make it.

Spooning the sauce over rice gave a clear distinctive flavor of all the ingredients. The woman at the restaurant looked quite nervous when I asked her what was in the sauce. “Just jalapeno and vinegar” she said.

Right, I thought, she doesn’t want to revel her recipe.

Something that really bothers me about some cooks is how they “hoard’ their recipes, keeping them secret as if they were some precious commodity. Taking a well-loved recipe to the grave is shameful and is not viewed in a good light, in my eyes anyway.

What is the purpose of keeping recipes for well-loved dishes secret? Is it a control issue? A fear issue? I knew someone once who said they are glad to share recipes but they always leave a key ingredient out.

Why? So that someone else wouldn’t make the dish as good as they can.

That is ridiculous.

So what if someone makes the green sauce at home? I will still come eat at your restaurant. I’m not coming for your green sauce, I am coming for the other things you offer on the menu.

So here is my recipe for Thai Style Green Sauce.

Make it and share. Tell the entire world how to make it, everyone should know.

Thai Style Green Sauce

There are no quantities here, just ingredients. Make a small amount, use it and make more.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bunch Cilantro, washed
  • 1 green jalapeno pepper, remove ribs and seeds for milder heat, use 2 or more for hotter sauce
  • 2 scallions
  • small handful of both garlic and onion chives
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, sliced thin so it blends well
  • seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • fish sauce like Nam Pla

Place all the herbs, garlic and ginger into a blender. Add enough rice wine vinegar to cover. Add a generous splash of fish sauce and blend for 2-3 minutes to get it all blended together.

Taste and adjust flavors by adding more fish sauce or more vinegar.

I served this on cedar planked salmon for dinner.

Use the sauce on noodles, over rice, on grilled meats and seafood. It is very versatile and has many uses.

How do you use Thai Style Green sauce?