Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Homemade Cranberry Sauce and Roasted Vegetables

I decided to attempt homemade cranberry sauce this year.  The canned stuff scares me a little bit, frankly, and fresh cranberries are everywhere, so it seemed like a good time to give it a try.

Since I had never made it before, I did some googling, and saw a number of recipes, such as this one, that included pears and ginger.  I also saw a number that included cardamom and orange zest, so I decided to incorporate both of those flavors as well.

Orange zest and I go way back - I love to include it in both savory and sweet dishes.  But, I wasn't as familiar with ginger (beyond the fact that my grandfather loved candied ginger and always kept a container next to his other favorite treat, scotch, as well as knowing that ginger ale helps with an upset stomach) or cardamom.

So, in case you too are unfamiliar with these flavors, here's a quick background.  Ginger is the root of a plant that has roots (ha - unintentional pun) in Southeast Asia.  It's purported to have medical purposes, from helping with arthritis to curing nausea (hence ginger ale).  It can lend a little spicy zing to baked goods like gingersnaps and ginger bread, and it's also found in savory soups and dishes.

Cardamom is a member of the ginger family, and is native to India and Bhutan.  You can get it in the spice section in pod form or ground.  It's most commonly found in Indian cooking, but some Scandinavian dishes also incorporate it.

Most of the cranberry sauce recipes called for sugar, which makes sense given that cranberries have a natural tartness.  I decided this might be a great time to try Truvia, which is a sweetener made from the Stevia plant.  It's naturally sweeter than sugar, but doesn't have the caloric impact.  Also, you can use it in cooking and baking.  I'm a big Splenda user, but a friend who had consulted with an Ayurveda practictioner had great things to stay about stevia, so I'm working on making the switch.   If you are swapping Truvia for sugar, you need substantially less than the recipe calls for.  Truvia provides a handy conversion chart on their website.

Anyhow, here's the resulting recipe for my cranberry sauce:

Two packages of fresh cranberries, rinsed
Four pears, peeled and diced (I used bartletts, but other recipes suggest bosc or anjou - take your pick!)
Four tablespoons of grated fresh ginger root (a microplane is helpful here)
Zest of one large orange
2/3 cup of Truvia
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 cups of water

Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan.  Heat on medium until cranberries pop and mixture looks sauce-like (I was just over the 20 minute mark).  Set aside until cooled and chill overnight.

I've also made my roasted squash with corn and cranberries, as well as roasted brussels sprouts with shallots.  Since I've made both of these dishes before, I won't provide extensive details, but you do get to see a picture before they went in the oven:

Brussels sprouts weren't on my original list of things to make today, but I remembered that I have missed having a green vegetable at Thanksgiving these past few years, so I took matters into my own hands.  ;)  I did omit the parmesan cheese I usually stir in as I'm making everything vegan this year.

1 comment:

  1. I made cranberry sauce too--with a Granny Smith apple and the juice and zest of a lemon and an orange: ridonkulously good and easy. It can also sit around for a few weeks so it's good to get done early and feel virtuous about.

    Now I just need to remember to put it out tomorrow...