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TIP OF THE DAY: Honor The Cranberry With Cranberry Drinks

Cranberries are a group of low, creeping evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines, that grow in acidic bogs in the cooler regions of the U.S. and Canada.

The plants belong to the heather family, Ericaceae, along with the bilberry, blueberry, huckleberry, azalea and other rhododendrons.

NAMING THE BERRY

Native American tribes from New England Pequod and Wampanoag to the Leni-Lenape of New Jersey to the Algonquins of Wisconsin variously called them sassamanesh (very sour berry), ibimi (bitter berry) and atoqua in their local tongues.

The English name derives from kranebere, German for crane berry, so called by early Dutch and German settlers in New England who saw the flower, stem, calyx and petals as resembling the neck, head and bill of a crane.

  • Some New Englanders called them bearberries, as bears were fond of feeding on them.
  • Northeastern Canadians called them mossberries.
  • In the U.K., it’s the fenberry, since the plants grow in a fen (a marsh).
  •  
    CRANBERRY HISTORY

    The Wampanoag People of southeastern Massachusetts had been harvesting wild cranberries for 12,000 years by the time the Pilgrims arrived. The Leni-Lenape of New Jersey and other tribes in the East also were blessed with cranberry bogs.

    Native Americans used cranberries for grits and pemmican—deer meat, mashed cranberries and fat, pressed and dried as a convenience food for travel. Cranberries mashed with cornmeal were baked it into bread.

    While maple sugar and honey were used to sweeten the sour berry, some souls with a palate for the super-tart even ate them fresh.

    Non-food uses included dye, fever-reducers, wound poultices and seasickness remedy.
     
    Cultivating The Cranberry

    The first cultivation of cranberries took place in Dennis, on Cape Cod, around 1816. After that, landowners eagerly converted their peat bogs, swamps and wetlands into cranberry bogs.

    Farmers developed a process called wet harvesting: flooding the bog with water so the cranberries floated to the surface, where they are collected.

    Cranberries found their way across the northern states to the Pacific Northwest, and were first shipped to Europe in the 1820s. From England, they were brought to the cold-appropriate countries of Scotland, Russia and Scandinavia. They’re now grown commercially in Chile as well.

    Today, U.S. Farmers harvest approximately 40,000 acres of cranberries each year (source).

    The fruit is turned into jam, juice, sauce and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers for cooking and baking.
     
    CRANBERRY TRIVIA

    A fresh cranberry will bounce, due to the pocket of air inside (photo #3). That’s also why they float.

    The cranberry is one of only three fruits native to North America that were not known in Europe*. The others: the blueberry and the grape.

       

    Cranberry Flower

    Cranberry Bush

    Cranberry Inside

    Fresh <br />Cranberries” width=”230″ height=”230″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-87513″ /></p>
<p><font size=[1] The cranberry flower (photo courtesy University of Wisconsin. [2] Cranberries on the branch (photo courtesy University of Minnesota). [3] The air pockets in cranberries enable them to bounce and float (photo courtesy Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association). [4] Fresh cranberries (photo courtesy Ocean Spray).

     

    Mulled Cranberr & Tequila Drink

    Cranberry Punch

    [1] Cranberry Toddy (photo courtesy DeLeon Tequila). [2] Cranberry punch (photo courtesy Ocean Spray).

     

    DRINKING CRANBERRIES

    In Colonial days, a drink known as the Hot Toddy was created as a way to cure ailments (or at least, that was the excuse given).

    Made with rum from the Caribbean, it was also called Hot Buttered Rum: rum, hot water, spices and a pat of butter.

    Today, cranberry juice is drunk as:

  • Cocktails: Cape Codder, Cosmopolitan, Crantini, Toddy and Sea Breeze, among others
  • Juice Drinks
  • Mocktails
  • Smoothies
  •  
    You can create your own drink, mixing cranberry juice with lemon, vanilla, seasonal spices and seasonal fruits.

    We adapted this cocktail recipe from one sent to us by DeLeón Tequila.
     
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY TODDY

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1½ ounces white/silver tequila
  • 6 ounces cranberry brew
  •  
    For The Cranberry Brew

  • 1 part fresh unsweetened cranberry juice
  • ¾ part fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ part simple syrup
  • Cinnamon, clove and nutmeg to taste
  • Garnish: orange slice (optionally studded with cloves)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIMMER together the cranberry brew ingredients. Combine with tequila in glass mug.

    2. GARNISH with the orange slice.
     
    RECIPE #2: CRANBERRY PUNCH WITH OR WITHOUT SPIRITS

    How can you resist this holiday punch, with a cranberry wreath in the center?

    The wreath is actually an ice mold to chill the punch, filled with fresh cranberries and leafy herbs.

    The recipe, from Ocean Spray, is for an alcohol-free punch; but you can add spirits to taste.

    Ingredients For About 15 Six-Ounce Servings

  • 1 64-ounce bottle Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda or club soda
  • Optional: spirit of choice (we used gin and cranberry liqueur)
  • Garnish: ice ring with cranberries (substitute orange and lime slices)
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    Preparation

    1. MAKE the ice mold. Fill a ring mold with cranberries and “leaves” (herbs or other leaves) and water, and place in the freezer.

    2. COMBINE the cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice and optional spirits in a large punch bowl. Gently stir in soda just before serving. Garnish and serve.

    TIP: To keep the punch cold, store the juice mix, soda and optional spirits in the fridge until ready to serve. We used two large pitchers, which fit easily into the fridge.

    ____________
    *Strawberries and raspberries were also known to Europeans; and many other fruits, such as the pawpaw and the saskatoon, are native to North America, but are not commercially important.

      

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    RECIPE: Pumpkin Tacos

    What kind of tacos are right for the season? Pumpkin tacos! Or at least, butternut squash tacos.

    PUMPKIN: AN ALL-AMERICAN

    Pumpkins and all other squash species originated in Central America more than 7,500 years ago. The oldest domesticated pumpkin seeds found to date are from the Oaxaca Highlands in southwest Mexico.

    The original pumpkins bore little resemblance to today’s large, bright orange, sweet variety. They were small and bitter.

    Domestication and breeding produced the pumpkins we know today. Brought to North America, pumpkins were a welcome food for the winter. Their thick skin and solid flesh were ideal for storing and consumption during months of scarcity.

    The Pilgrims (1620) and other Europeans immigrating to America were introduced to pumpkin by Native Americans. The first known pumpkin recipe they made was found in a book from the early 1670s: a side dish made from diced pumpkin, cooked down and blended with butter and spices (as acorn squash, butternut squash and sweet potatoes are prepared today).

    During the 17th century, housewives developed an inventory of pumpkin recipes, the most popular of which remains [drum roll…] pumpkin pie.

    In the 1800s it became stylish to serve sweetened pumpkin dishes during holiday dinners. The first proclamation for “national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving” led to an observance on November 28, 1782. Since 1863, Thanksgiving has been an official annual holiday, by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln.

    BACK TO THE TACOS…

    RECIPE #1: CHICKEN-PUMPKIN TACOS

    This recipe was sent to us from Gilt City, which teamed up with Santa Monica-based Taco Teca to create something new for National Taco Day (October 4th). We’ve slightly adapted the recipe.
     
    Ingredients Per Taco

  • 3 ounces boneless chicken
  • 3 ounces sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 2 ounces salsa mullato (recipe below)
  • 1/2 ounce queso fresco
  • Garnish: 3-4 sprigs cilantro
  • Optional condiment: cranberry sauce
  • Optional drink: pumpkin ale
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT grill on medium/high heat for 10 minutes prior to grilling. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

     

    Pumpkin Tacos

    Pumpkin Sizes

    Arbol Chiles

    [1] Seasonal tacos: chicken with pumpkin or butternut squash. [2] A sugar pumpkin and a jack-o-lantern (photo courtesy Baking Bites). [3] Arbol chiles (photo courtesy Rancho Gordo).

     
    2. SEASON the chicken with salt and pepper and place it on the grill until thoroughly crocked, 8-10 minutes per side, to an internal temperature 165°F. While the chicken is cooking…

    3. CHOP the butternut squash into cubes and place them on a roasting tray. Place in the oven and roast until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

    4. CHOP the cooked chicken into bite-size pieces and place them in a saute pan with the salsa. Simmer for 10 minutes.

    5. REMOVE the chicken from the saute pan directly onto the center of the tortilla. Top with the butternut squash and queso fresco and garnish with cilantro. Serve with a side of cranberry sauce and a pumpkin ale.

    RECIPE #2: SALSA MULATTO

    This recipe is from Mexican-Authentic-Recipes.com.

    Mulatto salsa takes just 5 minutes to make. It is quite hot because it is prepared with arbol chiles. If you’d like less heat, use an equivalent weight of aji amarillo or serrano chiles. Check out the heat levels of different chiles on the Scoville Scale.

    The texture of the mulatto salsa is soft and oily, unlike the condiment salsas most Americans know.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 10 arbol chiles
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of canola oil or other flavorless oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chiles on a griddle over medium heat and roast for about 40 seconds, turning regularly, until all sides are lightly roasted. Transfer to a blender.

    2. ADD the garlic, oil and salt. Blend well.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Pumpkin Soup In A Mini Pumpkin

    Express your inner artist by turning miniature pumpkins into bowls for pumpkin soup.

    The next fun part is garnishing them with whatever appeals to you. Some of our favorites:

  • Croutons: cornbread, pumpkernickel or sourdough
  • Dairy: crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt
  • Heat: crushed red pepper flakes, red jalapeno (circles or minced)
  • Meat: bacon, frizzled ham or prosciutto, pork belly squares
  • Pesto: cilantro, mint, parsley
  • Sage Leaves: fresh or fried
  • Spices: nutmeg, paprika, pimenton
  • More: apple chips, cranberry relish, currants, pomegranate arils, pumpkin seeds, toasted pecans
  •  
    Here are some recipes to start you off:

    PUMPKIN SOUP RECIPES

  • Pumpkin Soup With Chicken stock & Milk
  • Pumpkin Soup With Chicken Stock, Half-And-Half and Cocoa Croutons
  • Pumpkin Soup With Anise & Pernod-Flavored Cream Cheese “Sorbet”
  • Pumpkin Soup With Mint Pesto Garnish
  • Pumpkin Soup With Garnishes Of Fried Pumpkin Seeds & Sage Pesto
  • Roasted Garlic Sage Pesto Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Fried Pumpkin Seeds
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    THE DIFFERENCES: BROTH, CHOWDER, SOUP & MORE

  • Bisque: A thick, creamy soup that traditionally was made from puréed shellfish. Today bisques are also made from fruits, game fish and vegetables.
  • Broth & Stock: Liquids in which meat, fish, grains or vegetables have been simmered. The difference between a broth and a stock is that broth is made from the desirable ingredients; stock is made from “leftovers” such as bones and skin; thus broth is richer and more nourishing than stock. Both are used as a base for soups and gravies.
  • Chowder: Chunky soups thickened with flour. The main ingredient chowder can range widely, including chicken, corn, fish and seafood.
  • Consommé: A broth that has been clarification. This means that egg whites or other ingredients are boiled in the broth to coagulate the sediment, resulting in a clear, elegant-looking soup.
  • Gumbo: A dish that can fall into the soup or stew category, a strong stock of meat and/or fish/seafood, with pieces of the protein and a variety of vegetables, served over rice. Gumbo is traditionally thickened with okra or filé powder (from the sassfras tree) and vegetables. A gumbo is traditionally served over rice.
  • Gravy: Gravy is not a soup, but a sauce; although Americans have often turned canned soups into sauces. Gravies are made from the juices of cooked meat or vegetables after they have been cooked. Almost all gravies start with a roux (ROO), a mixture of flour and butter; and are thickened with starch (flour, corn starch, arrowroot, etc).
  • Purée: Some soups are puréed into smoothness. A purée can be considered a vegetable or grain/pulse counterpoint to a bisque. The technique also produces smooth apple sauce, whipped potatoes and puréed vegetables (carrot purée, broccoli purée, etc.).
  • Ragout: The French term for a main-dish stew. Note that in Italian, n Italian cuisine, ragù is a meat-based pasta sauce.
  • Soup: Any combination of ingredients cooked in a liquid base: fish/seafood, fruit, meats, starches and vegetables. Soups can be thick and hearty or thin and delicate. While cooked ingredients can remain in the soup, the objective of the ingredients is to flavor the liquid. Soup can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. Fruit soups can be served for starters or desserts.
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    Mini Pumpkin

    Pumpkin Soup

    Pumpkin Soup

    Pumpkin Soup

    [1] Get a mini pumpkin for each serving (photo courtesy Tablespoon). [2] This recipe has a garnish of mint pesto (photo Annabelle Breakey | Sunset). [3] This recipe has a garnish of sage pesto and fried pumpkin seeds (photo courtesy Half Baked Harvest). [4] This recipe has a simple garnish of creme fraiche* and pimenton* (photo courtesy Noob Cook).

  • Stew: A hearty dish made from proteins, vegetables, pulses, etc., simmered in a liquid (water, broth, stock, wine, beer) and then served in the resulting gravy. Stewing is a technique to cook less tender cuts of meat: The slow cooking method tenderizes the meat and the lower temperature allows the flavors to combine. There is a thin line between soups and chunky soups; generally, stews contain less liquid. Sometimes the name is adopted for a soup. Oyster Stew, for example, is a thick soup with butter and milk or cream, like a bisque.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOUP

    THE HISTORY OF SOUP

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Spice Up National Spicy Guacamole Day

    November 14th is National Spicy Guacamole Day. If you don’t like heat, regular National Guacamole Day is September 16th.

    Most people make guacamole to taste, adding crushed red chile flakes, some hot sauce, or minced jalapeños.

    But you can use different types of heat, all of which provide slightly different nuances to the heat.

     
    WAYS TO SPICE UP GUACAMOLE

    1. HOT MIX-INS

    Add more heat in your favorite forms. You can divide the batch to test your preferences.

  • Alpeppo pepper: Crushed red crushed flakes from Syria (and to a lesser extent, Turkey) with a deep, rich aroma some compare to ancho, plus a sweet fruitiness.
  • Cayenne and/or red chili flakes: The longstanding classics.
  • Gochujang: A pungent and savory condiment made from fermented soy beans and red chili peppers. It is traditionally used to season Korean foods like kimchi.
  • Harissa: A paste typically made from various dried red chili peppers, cumin, coriander, caraway seeds and garlic.
  • Hot mustard: A hotter mustard, like Chinese mustard. Look for Colman’s in powder or prepared mustard.
  • Hot oil: chile-infused oil and mustard oil are two options. Alternatively, you can drizzle them on top of the bowl as a garnish.
  • Hot sauce: Note that more than a few drops of red hot sauce will darken the guacamole. If you want to use a lot, look for a green hot sauce, made from green chiles.
  • Jalapeño, habanero or other hot chile: Use green to blend in or red for contrast (red chiles have more heat). Mince them.
  • Onions: White onions are the hottest, followed by red onions. Mince them.
  • Prepared white horseradish: Save the red for a garnish.
  • Sriracha: A hot sauce that originated in Thailand, made from chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, salt and sugar.
  • Wasabi: Paste or powder, this relative of western horseradish, from Japan, adds heat without prominent horseradish flavor.
  •  
    2. SPICY TOPPINGS/GARNISHES

  • Horseradish: Grated fresh horseradish or prepared red horseradish, which is white horseradish colored with beets. It makes a bright rim around the surface perimeter of the bowl.
  • Microgreens: arugula or mustard.
  • Radishes: a fine dice.
  • Red horseradish: White
  • Spicy pumpkin seeds: Make your own or buy SuperSeedz in Somewhat Spicy or Super Spicy.
  • Szechuan peppercorns: The tingling sensation has a slow onset and lingers for a long time. Crush it as a garnish. Szechuan peppercorn is not a true peppercorn, but a member of the citrus family typically. The different types of pepper.
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    BEYOND TORTILLA CHIPS: WAYS TO SERVE GUACAMOLE

    Before it became a dip with tortilla chips, guacamole was an all-purpose sauce (see the History Of Guacamole in the next section). Today, you have a broad choice of how to use it, beyond Tex-Mex, with:

  • Anything grilled
  • Avocado toast (with or without a fried egg) or omelet filling
  • Baked potatoes
  • Burger topping (photo #4 above)
  • Chicken salad: blend with mayonnaise
  • Cobb salad, instead of sliced avocado
  • Condiment/topping for fish
  • Deviled eggs
  • Flatbread: with any topping from arugula and bacon to sliced hard-boiled eggs
  • Guacamole mayonnaise: half and half, or however you like it
  • Hot dog topping
  • Hummus: ditto
  • Mayonnaise substitute
  • Pizza: instead of tomato sauce, topped with bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, corn, jalapeño, red onion, chicken, whatever
  • Sandwich spread: on a BLT, ham, turkey, veggie or other favorites sandwich
  • Stacked appetizer: alternate with layers of salmon or tuna tartare (photo #3 above)
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Tortilla chip alternatives: Japanese black sesame rice crackers, Swedish flatbread like Wasa crispbread
  •  

    Guacamole With Crudites

    Guacamole-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

    Tuna Tartare On Guacamole

    Burger With Guacamole

    Tuna Guacamole Hors d'Oeuvre

    Avocados On Tree

    [1] Spicy guacamole with crudités (photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog). [2] Guacamole-stuffed cherry tomatoes (photo courtesy Frontera Fiesta). [3] Spicy guacamole under tuna tartare (photo courtesy Chicago Cut Steakhouse). [4] Burger with guacamole (photo courtesy The Organic Grill). [5] Guacamole-tuna hors d’oeuvre (photo courtesy Ippudo | NYC). [6] Avocados on the tree (photo courtesy Avocados From Chile).

     
    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown in the area for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs called it ahuacatl (ah-ha-kwa-tay); the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard the word as aguacate, ah-hwah-cah-tay, the spelling and pronounciation they adopted. The sauce made from it evolved into was ahuacamOlli, a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce].

    Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.

    According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the name, “alligator pear.”

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12+ Unusual Pizza Toppings

    Greek Pizza Toppings

    Tuna & Capers Pizza

    Kimchi Pork Belly Pizza

    [1] From Italy’s neighbor: Greek pizza with feta, kalamata olives, onions and more (here’s a recipe from Cooking Classy). [2] Sorry, Charlie: tuna pizza with onions and capers (here’s the recipe from the New York Times). [3] Go Korean with pork belly, kimchi, scallions and cilantro (here’s a recipe from No Recipes).

     

    November 12th is National Pizza With Everything Day.

    Set aside the usual toppings for the moment, and consider a pizza topped with “everything unusual.”

    While these recipes come from our own kitchen inventions, you can find recipes for many of them and adjust them to your tastes.

  • Bacon & Egg Pizza: Top a white pizza with bacon, eggs (fried or scrambled); garnish with cherry tomatoes (or ketchup!) and large toast croutons.
  • Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza: A white pie topped with ground beef or meatballs or bacon, onion, halved cherry tomatoes and your favorite BLT cheese (Cheddar? Swiss?). Add thin-sliced romaine hearts or fresh arugula if you like lettuce on your burger.
  • BLT Pizza: Top the pie with bacon and fresh* or sundried tomatoes; garnish with fresh arugula when it comes out of the oven.
  • Caviar & Smoked Salmon Pizza: Top a white pie with boiled potato slices, smoked salmon and red onion; garnish with salmon caviar when it comes out of the oven.
  • Chicken Livers & Caramelized Onions. Liver lovers will love it; here’s a recipe.
  • Cobb Salad Pizza: Top a white pie with thin-sliced romaine hearts, avocado, cubed chicken breasts, sliced hard-boiled eggs and crumbled blue cheese.
  • Greek Pizza: Top a white pie with feta, kalamata olives, peperoncini, fresh dill and optional ground lamb. Here’s a recipe for starters; we added more toppings.
  • Indian Pizza: On a regular pizza crust or naan, flavor the marinara with Indian spices (curry, garam masala) and top it with paneer cheese and your favorite dishes, from tandoori chicken to any of the dozens selections in pouches: channa masala, khatta aloo, palak paneer (spinach and cottage cheese), vegetable korma, etc.
  • Korean Pizza: Pork belly, kimchi, fresh chiles, green onions, cilantro. Garnish with sriracha or hot sauce of choice. Here’s a recipe to add to.
  • Paté Pizza: Top a white pie with chicken liver mousse or other pâté. The pâté will melt on top of the pizza, creating a new way to enjoy paté. Add wild mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil. Here’s a recipe to use as a base.
  • Seafood Pizza: Beyond clams, you can top a white pie with the finest: bay scallops or sliced scallops, calamari, lobster, mussels, octopus, oysters and shrimp. Add the toppings during the last 10 minutes in the oven.
  • Tex-Mex Pizza: Mix salsa into the marinara and top the pie with refried beans, avocado, shredded chicken or protein of choice, sliced jalapeños (substitute bell pepper), fresh cilantro and shredded jack cheese. If you can find a cornmeal crust, great; otherwise garnish the cooked pizza with some tortilla chips.
  • Tuna Pizza: Hold the mayo, but top the pie with flaked tuna, sliced red onion and capers. You can add anchovies, too. Here’s a recipe to use as a guide.
  •  
    What’s your favorite unusual topping?
    ________________
    *Use cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes when tomatoes are not in season.

     

      

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