Seasonal Eating: Cranberries

Part of eating seasonally for me is eating only certain foods at certain times of the year so I can truly enjoy the taste, texture, and color of food. Cranberries are a fruit that I only eat around the holidays.

The bright, red color is so welcome during this time of year, when it more dark than light outside. And the tanginess really lights up your mouth. Here are two of my favorite recipes.
Cranberry Walnut Crunch
This recipe is from a book titled, Ruth and Skitch Henderson’s Christmas in the Country. I have had this book for a long time. This is my favorite ‘cranberry sauce’ recipe. It makes 5-6 cups so reduce quantities as appropriate. I halve the recipe and that makes just enough for Thanksgiving dinner.
4 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Combine the cranberries, sugar, and cloves in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly but very gently, until sugar is dissolved. Try to keep the cranberries whole. Gently fold in the walnuts and cook, stirring gently, over low heat for an additional 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
This recipe is from the Complete Seasonal Cookbook put out by Williams-Sonoma. I make this as a Christmas morning breakfast treat.
For the topping:4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 lb. cranberries
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

To make the topping, butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Put the butter and brown sugar in the prepared pan and place the pan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Scatter the cranberries over the butter-sugar mixture. Set aside.
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
To make the cake, in a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well. Using a silicone or rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk.
In a bowl, using a whisk or an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Using the spatula, fold the whites into the batter.
Spoon the batter over the cranberries in the cake pan, spreading it evenly. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert onto a serving plate, let stand for 5 minutes, then lift off the pan.

Mary Pellerito is a Michigan-based garden and nature writer. Mary is a member of the Garden Writer’s Association, Wild Ones, and she is a Master Gardener.  This article was previously published on her blog Going Native.

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