Every year in early January I file away copies of the recipes I’ve prepared over the holidays. The following December these smudged pages are a pleasure to review for the memories and inspiration they provide. I then throw most of them away.
The truth is, I rarely repeat holiday meals. As Tina Turner says in ‘Proud Mary’, “I don’t do nothin nice and easy”. The major components of the meal don’t change much, but my need to reinvent them is a constant.
Take the small, homespun cranberry. It’s an ideal ingredient for conjuring new flavors in a holiday kitchen. Almost as if by design, this native American vine bears fruit in late fall just when it’s most needed to complement rich roasted meats and super sweet holiday desserts. Cranberries are uncompromisingly tart, loaded with pectin and a stunning red (color counts). They are the perfect foil both fresh and dried in a sauce, compote, preserve or as solo addition for any number of holiday dishes.
Two new cranberry recipes joined my growing collection this year. One is the Cranberry Pecan Upside Down Cake pictured above. It’s my take on a recipe for the more traditional pineapple version that appears in Thomas Keller’s book Ad Hoc at Home.
The other addition is an Orange Marmalade with Cranberries. Just one thinly sliced orange and a few ounces of cranberries will produces three cups of ruby red preserves. The naturally high pectin level in both fruits insures a firm gel in record time. While oranges and cranberries are a common pairing, it’s a cinnamon stick simmering with the fruit that provides delicious synergy. Please pass the brioche!
Happy Holidays from my kitchen to yours!