The versatile cranberry brightens many meals

December 20, 1998|By Annette Gooch | Annette Gooch,Universal Press Syndicate

Cranberries can enliven menus with their ruby sheen and clean, astringent flavor any time of year. Still, most of us relate them to dishes of the winter holidays. As Christmas approaches, cranberries will be on holiday menus everywhere, and not just as a dinner side dish.

Stir some coarsely chopped fresh or frozen berries or a handful of the sweetened dried fruit into pancake, muffin or quick bread batter; or knead some into bread dough. Give apple crisp, cobbler or pie a rosy hue and tart taste by replacing up to half the amount of apples called for with cranberries.

Use sweetened cranberry juice for poaching pears and in compotes. For a hot mulled beverage, blend cranberry juice with apple cider and simmer with cinnamon, cloves and lemon slices. If you can find unsweetened cranberry juice or cranberry concentrate (both available at some natural-food stores), mix either one with orange juice for an eye-opening breakfast drink, or add some to carbonated mineral water for a sugar-free, ruby-red spritzer.

Serve the following recipe as an appetizer at a holiday dinner or any time you want a zesty, hot-pink fruit salsa that goes well with raw vegetables or crackers.

Cole Publishing Group

Cranberry Salsa

Makes 2 1/2 cups

1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen and defrosted

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

3 tablespoons minced red onion

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup softened Neufchatel or reduced-fat cream cheese

Blend all ingredients in food processor or in blender until very smooth. Spoon into serving dish and serve chilled.

Pub Date: 12/20/98

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