Amaro… amaro… such a pretty, romantic word. Before moving to Durham almost 4 months ago now (wow), little did I know that I had in fact tried amaro before in the form of Fernet Branca, a more well known amaro that is hitting the food/hipster world. So aside from just a pretty name, which turns out means “bitter” in Italian, amaro is an herbal liqueur that is commonly enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif. It usually has a bitter-sweet flavor, sometimes syrupy. Thank you Mr. Wikipedia…. The second time I tried amaro was earlier this year at The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club. I had no clue what I was tasting, but I knew I enjoyed it more than Fernet Branca. At the time I was a bit distracted by the amazing aesthetic of the establishment, so much that I didn’t make note of what we were tasting. Fast forward 5 months and I instantly recognized the iconic bottle with an artichoke on it while enjoying a drink at a neighborhood cocktail hangout. Cynara scolymus, known commonly as artichoke, is the predominant ingredient that lends to the drink’s name, Cynar.
In following in the footsteps of my boozy cranberry creations from the past two years, I decided to try Cynar as the main ingredient for this years’ cranberry fun. Port was awesome, whiskey was safe, Cynar is just weird. But weird in a really complimenting way with the tart flavors of the fresh cranberries. For this recipe, I kept it quite simple: berries, spices, sugar, citrus, ginger, and booze. Depending on your palate, I’d recommend tasting your sauce before canning, though know that as the mixture sits and cools, the flavors change a bit. I wouldn’t typically opt for bitter, tart, and sweet together for my canning recipes, but as a friend all knowingly suggested pretending that I was making a strong cocktail surprisingly worked out great. Enjoy!
The cranberry days are over… The cranberry days are done… (Set to Florence & the Machine’s Dog Days are Over). After a very pink blog, 5 pounds of berries, and nearly 2 months of recipes, I’ve finally made it through the last of my Maine Cranberry Co. cranberries. I had planned on saving back the remaining 2lbs of berries till spring time, but when I found myself in need of a “fresh” item to bring to the December food swap, the cranberries came through. This super easy (but not so high yield) cranberry juice recipe did just the trick. I never knew that 1) making homemade low sugar cranberry juice was so simple and that 2) you can put it up! Make this recipe with white sugar or honey for a more sour twist. Depending on your fine mesh strainer size the juice will either come out like mine, thicker like a concentrate, or more like juice found in the grocery store. Enjoy this homemade juice in your favorite cocktail (think cranberry, lime, vodka) or serve it as is with seltzer over ice.
You know bubble-wrap? You know the satisfaction of slowly popping bubble-wrap? Of course you do, who doesn’t!? My impatience in waiting for cranberries to pop and prematurely popping them with the back of a spatula is almost as good as popping bubble-wrap. I think someone (OK, I may have gifted it to myself) actually bought me a 6 foot roll of bubble-wrap for Christmas one year.
With 3lbs of Sugar Hill Cranberry Co. cranberries left, I’ve been getting creative with my canning ideas, cranberry jalapeño jelly, seen it, cranberry pear chutney, seen it (though I am interested in trying it), cranberry banana jam? Yum! That being said, if anyone has any suggestions… Today’s post sounds a little bit weird, right? “Banana jam? Isn’t that just going to turn into a mush of brown?” Quite the opposite actually, this jam is a mush of beautiful light cranberry colors. The tart and sweet flavors of the cranberries complement the banana flavors perfectly. With the option of adding in the pre-steeped cinnamon sticks and water, I think the taste of banana notes are amazing. Serve this jam atop a sweat biscotti, with almond butter for a AB&J sando, or with your overnight oats breakfast.
Waking up locked in a cranberry bog was something I never expected to scratch off my “done it” list, but thanks to hectic & rainy trip out to the Cape last month, I can say it’s been done. While it makes for a pretty awesome story (obviously), our intentions (honestly) were not to sleep in a bog. As with most of our sporadic trips, we started driving south with no resting place in mind. Navigator Erin to the rescue! Or so we thought… I thought I had found a cheap’ish, no minimum night stay campground to pitch a tent at, but alas by the time we arrived, the gates were already closed and our next best option was sneaking down a dark dirt road with the hopes of no one kicking us out during our slumber. The best part about arriving somewhere after the sun goes down is waking up the next morning and thinking “WOW, look where we landed… a freaking cranberry bog!!” Had it not been for our little oops moment, I wouldn’t have known that cranberries 1) were grown in bogs, and 2) grown on Cape Cod.
Last November I successfully made my first really GOOD cranberry sauce. Much like this recipe, it was booze infuzed (ruby red port) which led to a fun evening… “the recipe only calls for a cup and a half of booze… what to do with the rest of it…”. I’ve already talked about my opinions of girls drinking whiskey (badass) so I won’t get into it here, but I had half a bottle of bourbon let over after the honey bourbon mustard I made earlier this week. With 5lbs of local Maine cranberries from Sugar Hill Cranberry Co, I figured it was time to get going on this year’s cranberry creations.
In college my typical Thursday night would involve drinking too much, eating MSG laden ramen, and making bad life choices. Fortunately for the sake of my health (with the occasional relapse), now I just drink (higher quality alcohol), decide to start canning a pretty involved concoction at 11:45pm, and then proceed to drink all the ingredients (hello late 20’s). A few years back, I decided to openly declare that I really disliked the canned cranberry gelatin-like glop that my mother used to serve every year during holiday meals. To resolve the issue, she suggested that I try my hand at homemade cranberry sauce. To say the least, my first stab at cranberry sauce was not quite as satisfactory as I had hoped. I think the store bought extra pulp OJ may have been the culprit. I made further improvements last year by using orange zest, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Alas this attempt also failed to enticed the meal goers, and quickly landed itself a place in the dark depths of the refrigerator. Last night, after a few glasses of wine, and Thanksgiving only three weeks away, I decided that I would give it a go once again. This time I added apples, port, and a whole slew of other ingredients. Preliminary findings from my late night finger-tasting, resulted in a quality improved sweet and slightly tart mixture of cranberry goodness. I will definitely be bringing a jar or two of this Spiced Port Apple Cranberry Sauce to this year’s holiday festivities. This recipe can be easily modified by adding or omitting spices, or by substituting bourbon for the port. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
© 2017 Erin A. Urquhart All Rights Reserved.