Archive for the ‘Sauces’ Category
Cranberries have a distinct sweet-tart flavor that is what people love about them. Cranberries are often paired with flavors – such as oranges or lemons – that highlight the tartness of the berries and brings it out more. This is definitely a classic approach, but sometimes I want to highlight the sweetness of my cranberries and play down that tartness a little bit. One way to do this is by introducing other berries to a sauce to play up those berry flavors and minimize that tang.
My Vanilla Cranberry Sauce with Blueberries is on the sweeter side of things, although the cranberries still deliver a good amount of tart flavor to the sauce. The sauce starts off with plenty of fresh cranberries (frozen, not defrosted will work, too) that are cooked with some sugar and blueberries. Vanilla is added at the end to finish the sauce. The sauce takes just a few minutes to put together and has a great combination of sweet blueberries, bright cranberries and smooth vanilla. It is easy to eat by the spoonful, but tastes great when served as a Thanksgiving side dish or when slathered on a leftover turkey sandwich.
The blueberries add a nice sweetness to the cranberries, and give the sauce a color that is really vibrant – much deeper than cranberries along typically deliver. As with the cranberries, fresh or frozen blueberries can be used, but fresh blueberries will finish a little bit better because they won’t break down quite as much as frozen blueberries will.
The sauce should be cooled before serving, and if it is stored in an airtight container, it will store very well when kept in the fridge.
One of the most frequently recommended ways to make Dulce de Leche is to put a can of sweetened condensed milk into boiling water and cook it for a period of 2-4 hours. This is not a good thing to do – and one look at the warning on a can of sweetened condensed milk will tell you why: the can can explode. This can happen when the water level in the pan gets to low, when the burner you’re using has a hot spot below your can, or when any other situation arises in which excess heat builds up in that can. I’ve used the method with good results – but it’s not worth the risk of stepping out of the kitchen and returning to a big mess of sweetened condensed milk everywhere, not when there is a safer method that is just as easy to do and that is even a bit faster.
This method for making dulce de leche uses a double boiler. Simply open a can of sweetened condensed milk and pour it into the top of a double boiler, where the bottom is already filled with a few inches of simmering water. With a double boiler, you don’t need to worry about the water evaporating while you cook, and since there is no pressure from a sealed can, there is no risk of an unexpected explosion (yes, it really does happen).
I’ve noticed, over the past few years, that recipes for cranberry sauce are calling for less and less sugar. Maybe it’s just the type of cranberry sauce that I’ve had, but cranberries have such a great natural tartness to them that I’ve never tasted a cranberry sauce that was too sweet. I far prefer cranberry sauces that are a little on the sweeter side because they tend to have a more balanced flavor and complement other dishes better than super-tart sauces.
For my holiday cranberry sauce this year, I decided to up the sweetness factor by adding some lovely sweet blackberries to the sauce, not by adding in more sugar. The blackberries didn’t hide the tartness of the cranberries, but they did contribute a slightly jammy feel to the whole dish and sweetened everything up. It goes well on turkey, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls and anything else you have on a holiday plate – and by this I mean that there is no need to push too-tart sauce off to the corner of your plate and hope that it doesn’t contaminate the flavors of the rest of the meal by running onto other foods.
I added a tiny bit of allspice into the sauce to give it a little something extra (one of my tasters said “this tastes just like Christmas!”), but if you’re not a fan of allspice you can leave it out or use cinnamon in its place. Fresh or frozen berries can be used to make this sauce, too.
A roast turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving and because the meal is built around it, cooks often feel some pressure to get it cooked perfectly. The turkey, usually sold frozen, must be thawed for quite some time before it can be prepped – and for every two chefs out there there are 3 opinions on how the turkey should be cooked. There is one turkey that I know of that promises to make Thanksgiving easier by eliminating all of these variables: the Jennie-O Turkey Store Oven Ready Whole Turkey.
The turkey comes in an oven bag and is baked from frozen. All you really need to do is take the turkey, still in the bag, and place it in a roasting pan in a preheated oven. An 11-13 pound turkey takes about 3 1/2 hours to cook completely. There is an oven thermometer already in the turkey that “pops up” when the turkey is done so you know exactly when to take it out of the oven.
I was skeptical before I tried it. Frozen turkey? No work required? It honestly seemed like it was too simple, but the fact that I didn’t have to handle a huge raw turkey was extremely appealing, as was the idea that the turkey is a huge Thanksgiving time-saver.
Passion fruit, also sometimes written as passionfruit, is one of the best smelling fruits out there. Ripe fruit has a stong, sweet, floral scent that just makes you feel as though you’re somewhere tropical. More often than not, the passion fruits sold in US markets are a bit on the dry side, so I’m always thrilled when I can get my hands on some fresh, plump fruits. The two that inspired this batch of curd came from a friend who grows them.
The curd is made the same way as a lemon curd or a lime curd, using the juice of the passion fruit and combining it with sugar and eggs. Passion fruits usually have a fair amount of tart juice to give off when you cut into them, and you can extract some more by pressing the seeds and pulp through a strainer. I like to reserve the seeds and stir some in at the end of the curd-making process, and I do it for the same reasons that most passion fruit recipes do. It’s partially because the seeds are a dead-giveaway for the passion fruit flavor, but also because the black seeds at a nice contrasting color and texture to the mix.
If the scones in the picture look familiar, it’s because I served this curd with the coconut scones I posted the recipe for earlier this week. The combination of the coconut and passion fruit made for a very tropical treat. The passion fruit will go with many other dishes, from pancakes and waffles, to scones and muffins of almost any flavor. You can use it in place of lemon curd in tarts, cupcakes and cookies, as well.