Every red-bloodied American knows that when it comes to Thanksgiving, cranberries are American as apple pie. Contrary to popular belief, cranberries didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but were a staple of Native Americans long before the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621. They’re one of only three native North American fruits — Concord grapes and blueberries are the others — and before the Pilgrims dubbed them “crane berry” (because the shape of the fruit’s blossoms resembled the heads of cranes), Native Americans called them by names like ibimi, atoqua, and sassamanesh.
Cranberry sauce — smooth, whole berry, chopped into chutney, or molded with other fruits — is a “must” with Thanksgiving turkey, but the little berry has proven to be far more versatile as an ingredient in everything from colorful Cosmopolitans and Cranberry Martinis to cranberry muffins and not-so-classic shortbreads that will leave you begging for more. Visit this space next week for more recipes.
Makes 2 cups
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped dates
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely diced apple
1 tablespoon crystalized ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the walnuts. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Stir occasionally. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Serve at room temperature.
Cranberry Brie Appetizer Bites
Makes 30 appetizers
2 packages (30) mini fillo shells, such as Athens brand
3/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce or Cranberry-Walnut Chutney
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
One 8-ounce round of Brie
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the fillo cups on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the cranberry sauce or Cranberry-Walnut Chutney, lemon juice, and peel.
2. Cut the cheese into 30 ½-inch cubes and place 1 in each cup. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is soft. Remove from oven and just before serving top each with about 1 teaspoon of the cranberry mixture.
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