Friday, December 7, 2007
Friday food - cranberry compote.
I've just started putting together the menu for our Christmas party. We used to host a more formal dinner, but there are too many people that we love to see, and it's really hard to limit a guest list to ten or twelve. So now we invite everybody, and last year we had around 40 people crammed into our tiny little house. We moved our bed into the garage and turned the bedroom into a full bar, with cocktail tables and a bartender.
Putting the menu together is one of my favorite things, using this book as an inspiration - a big variety of tiny, delicious bites. Seasonal foods are special by their very nature - you can't (or shouldn't be able to) get them any time you like. Cranberries are pure Christmas - I string them with popcorn for the tree, and use them in this really wonderful champagne cocktail - you can make a huge batch of the syrup and then freeze it in smaller amounts to use throughout the season.
Here's another great use - a wintery compote for your Saturday morning waffles (or scooped onto ginger cookies for snacking while watching A Christmas Story for the hundredth time).
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of cardamom
4 cups fresh cranberries
3 cups peeled, diced organic tart apples
1/2 cup grade B organic maple syrup
Combine the orange juice and zest in a large heavy saucepan; bring to a boil, and cook several minutes or until reduced by half. Add the cranberries, diced apple, cinnamon and cardamom; cook over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in maple syrup, and cook an additional 5 minutes. You can keep the compote in the fridge, but it tastes better served at room temperature.