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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cranberries With Orange and Cognac


Need a last minute host or hostess gift? This one is perfect: flavorful, healthy and home-made. Cranberries are full of antioxidants and research studies have shown they can help protect cells against cancerous changes, prevent plaque from forming on teeth, increase good HDL cholesterol, prevent urinary tract infections, and kill H. pylori bacteria that play a prominent role in the development of ulcers and stomach cancer.

Home-made cranberry sauce is so different from store-bought varieties that are packed with sugar. This version is naturally sweetened with orange juice and a touch of cognac makes it something really really special. When a holiday favorite like this is so easy to prepare, there is no excuse for serving it out of a can.

It's easy to whip up the night before and so very versatile. If your hostess has already planned the cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner, she can drizzle a spoonful into the bottom of each champagne flute and fill with sparkling wine for a Cranberry Kir Royale, the perfect holiday apératif. Or she can save it to stir into yogurt or oatmeal, making breakfast a breeze, or serve it at another meal to accompany chicken, duck, pork, halibut or grilled tofu triangles.

If your orange is not organic, omit the zest. If you don't have cognac or prefer your cranberries without it, substitute additional orange juice, red wine, or a splash of water if you need more liquid.

This recipe yields 2 cups.

12 oz fresh cranberries
1 organic orange, zest and juice
Pinch sea salt
1/4 cup cognac (or substitute brandy)
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey

Add the cranberries, orange juice, orange zest and sea salt to a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the cranberries have burst, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the cognac and continue cooking over low heat, uncovered, about 5 minutes more, until the sauce has thickened and reduced to the desired consistency. Use the back of a spoon to mash any remaining whole cranberries.

Stir in the maple syrup and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve the cranberry sauce hot or at room temperature. If you're making it ahead or giving it as a gift, transfer the sauce an air-tight jar container and store it in the fridge until show time.

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