Cranberry season is upon us

Entertaining

The berries aren't around for long, just long enough to make a marmalade

Entertaining

November 09, 2003|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

The minute the season's first cranberries appear in my local grocery, I reach for a package. The crimson-hued berries, which are sold fresh in the fall, are a favorite of mine and have been the inspiration for many interesting recipes.

I've combined them with port to make a sauce for roasted pork tenderloins, cooked them with sugar and orange juice to use as a glaze for wine-poached pears and made countless cranberry chutneys and relishes to accompany my holiday turkey.

This year I've added cranberry cherry marmalade to my repertoire. The idea for this condiment originated in New York where my husband and I were recently enjoying brunch in a small Upper West Side restaurant. A menu entry for French toast with cranberry-cherry sauce caught my eye. I was struck by the cleverness of the sauce, realizing immediately that the sweet cherries and tart berries would make a perfect combination.

Back in my kitchen, I couldn't wait to work on my own version. I simmered fresh cranberries and dried cherries together with both white and brown sugars and added a little cider vinegar to keep the melange from becoming cloyingly sweet. Fresh minced ginger root, a stick of cinnamon and grated orange zest rounded out the flavorings. It took only a few minutes for the mixture to thicken and take on a lustrous sheen.

The marmalade (which can be made five days ahead and refrigerated or even frozen) has already come in handy for some last-minute entertaining. Two days ago, while an aunt and cousin were visiting, I invited a few friends for tea and served the cranberry-cherry marmalade with toasted scones. Now I am looking forward to using the marmalade (warmed slightly) as a topping for French toast, pancakes or waffles for our next weekend guests. But the marmalade would be equally tempting served with pork or lamb chops or with roasted chicken. And there's no doubt this marmalade will be on our Thanksgiving buffet as an accompaniment for the bird and dressing.

Cranberry-Cherry Marmalade

Makes 2 cups

1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups fresh cranberries

1/2 cup dried cherries

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon light-brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger root

1 whole cinnamon stick, broken in half

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

Combine water and granulated sugar in medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil without stirring.

Add cranberries, cherries, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger root and cinnamon stick. Stir to mix, then bring to a simmer, lower heat slightly and cook until mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange zest. Carefully, with tongs or a slotted spoon, remove and discard cinnamon stick halves. Cool mixture to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. (Marmalade can be prepared 5 days ahead; bring to room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before servings. It can also be frozen; defrost in the refrigerator a day ahead.)

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