Cranberries: A sweet time of the year for a berry

Recipes abound for soups and side dishes

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHEN FRIES

Fall fa­vorites; ap­ples, and then pump­kins have re­cently taken cen­ter stage here. Not want­ing to rush the year away, I’ve held writ­ing about sweet pota­toes and cranberries un­til now. With the start of Novem­ber and Thanks­giv­ing only a cou­ple of weeks away, I fig­ured now is the time to “talk” cranberries and sweet pota­toes.

No mat­ter how many Thanks­giv­ing din­ners you’ve pre­pared, for most, it al­ways seems to be stress­ful. From the plan­ning of the meal to the wash­ing of the last plate, Thanks­giv­ing cre­ates more anx­i­ety for home cooks than any other hol­i­day. Why get ner­vous and fuss, since most tend to stick to their tried and true dishes: turkey, gravy, stuff­ing, sweet pota­toes, green bean casse­role, cran­berry sauce; and for dessert, fall pies such as pump­kin, ap­ple or mince­meat. These seem to be the Thanks­giv­ing din­ner must-haves.

When cranberries come to mind, most think of the can, and the chal­lenge of re­mov­ing the jel­lied cran­berry sauce. Many years ago, I used the canned va­ri­ety, too, un­til I re­al­ized how easy it is to make cran­berry sauce and other dishes us­ing fresh cranberries. Sweet, tangy, juicy, sour — there’s noth­ing like a cran­berry to give a burst of fla­vor to dishes sweet or sa­vory. Full of anti-ox­i­dants and vi­ta­min C, cranberries are good for us, too. While most think of cranberries dur­ing fall, they’re read­ily avail­able year-round, fresh, dried and frozen. No need to wait for Thanks­giv­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the Agri­cul­tural Mar­ket­ing Re­source Cen­ter, 20 per­cent of the 400 mil­lion pounds of cranberries con­sumed in the U.S. each year is dur­ing Thanks­giv­ing week. I was sur­prised to learn that it is Wis­con­sin, not Mas­sachusetts, that is the lead­ing pro­ducer of cranberries with 60 per­cent of the crop.

While a glis­ten­ing and juicy turkey takes cen­ter stage on the table, it is the side dishes, fre­quently in­cor­po­rat­ing sweet pota­toes or cranberries, that many of us look for­ward to eat­ing. If you are like me, you have your stan­dards, but still like to add one or two new dishes to the feast.

“The Cran­berry Cook­book: Year-Round Dishes from Bog to Table,” by Sally Pasley Var­gas (2017, Globe Pe­quot, $18.00) re­cently joined my sin­gle­sub­ject cook­book col­lec­tion. The pho­tos will en­tice you to run to the store and pur­chase the ingredients to make some of the recipes. I en­joyed the side­bars cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from cran­berry folk­lore to mod­ern cran­berry farm­ers and nu­tri­tional in­for­ma­tion. Know­ing fresh cranberries might not be avail­able year­round where you shop, the au­thor tested each recipe with frozen cranberries as well as fresh, so it’s per­fect for any time of year.

“The Cran­berry Cook­book” is a treat for any­one who ap­pre­ci­ates clas­sic fla­vors with a mod­ern twist like cran­berry-choco­late babka, Wal­dorf salad, up­side-down gin­ger­bread with ap­ples and cranberries, or this recipe for roasted har­vest veg­etable soup with cran­berry coulis. For the recipe for roasted car­rots and cranberries, visit­lKu

Roasted Har­vest Veg­etable Soup with Cran­berry Coulis

The au­thor writes, “At the end of sum­mer be­fore there is even a nip in the air, mar­kets fill with moun­tains of squash and root veg­eta­bles that beg to go into soup. Think of this recipe as a guide­line, and pick and choose what is avail­able to you. This large batch is suit­able for serv­ing a crowd, or for stash­ing some away in the freezer to pull out on a rainy night. Moroc­can spices add a touch of warmth to the col­or­ful lit­tle specks of veg­eta­bles. Roast the veg­eta­bles un­til ten­der but still a lit­tle firm. Be­fore puree­ing, baste them in the toasted spice and but­ter mix­ture, add wa­ter, and cook just long enough to bring the fla­vors to­gether. The soup will be thick when pureed, so add enough wa­ter to bring it to a soupy con­sis­tency. A spoon­ful of yo­gurt adds a cool­ing el­e­ment, while cranberries offer a tart and sweet ac­cent.”


11⁄2 cups fresh or frozen

cranberries 3⁄4 cup white wine 1⁄3 cup sugar 1 bay leaf 2 (1⁄8-inch thick) slices

fresh gin­ger Pinch of salt


Veg­etable oil (for the bak­ing

sheet) 1 large onion, cut into six

wedges 1 pound un­peeled car­rots (3–4 large), ends trimmed and cut into 1 ½ -inch lengths 2 stalks cel­ery, cut into

11⁄2-inch pieces 6 small parsnips (12 ounces), ends trimmed and cut into 11⁄2-inch lengths 1 large white turnip (12 ounces), peeled and cut into 11⁄2-inch chunks ½ peeled but­ter­nut squash (about 1 pound), cut into 11⁄2-inch chunks 3 ta­ble­spoons olive oil Salt and pep­per, to taste 3 ta­ble­spoons but­ter 2 ta­ble­spoons ras el hanout* 6–8 cups wa­ter

2 ta­ble­spoons lemon juice 2 ta­ble­spoons honey 1 cup plain yo­gurt (for


In a small sau­cepan over medium heat, stir to­gether the cranberries, wine, sugar, bay leaf, gin­ger, and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and sim­mer for 7 min­utes, or un­til the cranberries are soft. Cool to room tem­per­a­ture. Re­move the bay leaf and gin­ger. In a blen­der, puree the mix­ture un­til smooth.

Heat oven to 450 de­grees. Lightly oil 2 rimmed bak­ing sheets. On the bak­ing sheets, spread the onion, car­rots, cel­ery, parsnips, turnip, and squash. Driz­zle with the oil. With your hands, toss to­gether, mas­sag­ing the oil into the veg­eta­bles. Spread in one layer. Sprin­kle with salt and pep­per. Roast for 25 to 30 min­utes, or un­til ten­der but still slightly firm when pierced with the tip of a par­ing knife.

In a soup pot over medium heat, melt the but­ter. Add the ras el hanout, and cook, stir­ring for 30 sec­onds to toast the spices. Add the veg­eta­bles to the pot and stir to coat them with the spice. Add enough wa­ter to cover the veg­eta­bles. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. De­crease the heat to a sim­mer, and con­tinue to cook for 5 min­utes. Cool briefly. In a food pro­ces­sor, work­ing in batches, puree the veg­eta­bles and broth un­til coarse and a lit­tle chunky. Trans­fer to a clean pot. Add the lemon juice and honey. Cook, stir­ring un­til the mix­ture comes to a boil. Thin with more wa­ter if the soup is thick. Taste for sea­son­ing and add more salt and pep­per, if you like. Gar­nish with spoon­fuls of yo­gurt and driz­zle with cran­berry coulis. Serves 10.

*If you can’t find ras el hanout, Moroc­can spice blend), mix to­gether 1 tea­spoon each ground cumin, ground gin­ger, and salt, ¾ tea­spoon freshly ground black pep­per, 1⁄2 tea­spoon each ground cin­na­mon, ground co­rian­der seed, cayenne, ground all­spice and ¼ tea­spoon ground cloves.

“Sweet Pota­toes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried and Made into Pie,” by MaryFrances Heck (2017, Clarkson Pot­ter Pub­lish­ers, $16.99) is an­other sea­sonal sin­gle sub­ject cook­book added to my col­lec­tion. I en­joyed how the au­thor thought out of the box for Thanks­giv­ing dishes, ex­plor­ing the veg­etable’s use in sweet and sa­vory cre­ations. Sweet pota­toes take well to many prepa­ra­tions; think of it as a blank can­vas. Most peo­ple only think to bake them. The au­thor, for­mer test kitchen direc­tor at Bon Ap­petit, leaves no “potato” un­turned, pro­vid­ing cook­ing tech­niques for roast­ing, steam­ing, boil­ing, mash­ing, coal roast­ing, fry­ing and the new craze of spi­ral­iz­ing. She presents dishes that draw on sea­sonal and global in­flu­ences, from West African sweet potato leaf and fava bean stew to sum­mery grilled sweet potato with gar­licmaple glaze to sweet potato choco­late babka. This recipe for sweet potato galette is per­fect for a Thanks­giv­ing Day brunch. For the recipe for black-bot­tom sweet potato pud­ding pie, visit


All-pur­pose flour, for dust­ing 1 sheet (about ½ pound)

frozen puff pas­try, thawed 1 medium sweet potato

(about ½ pound), peeled and sliced into 1⁄8-inch-thick

rounds 1 ⁄ red onion or 1 shal­lot, 4

thinly sliced 1 ba­con strip, cut into 1 ⁄2-inch

pieces 1 tea­spoon fresh thyme

leaves Kosher salt and freshly

ground black pep­per 1 large egg

TIP: The galette can be as­sem­bled and stored in the re­frig­er­a­tor the night be­fore you plan to bake it.

Pre­heat the oven to 375 de­grees. Line a rimmed bak­ing sheet with parch­ment paper. Lightly dust a work sur­face with flour and un­fold the puff pas­try onto it. Us­ing a rolling pin, roll the pas­try into a 12inch square. Place the puff pas­try on the pre­pared bak­ing sheet. Shin­gle the sweet potato slices on top of the puff pas­try, leav­ing a

1⁄2-inch bor­der all around. Scat­ter the onion slices, ba­con, and thyme over the sweet pota­toes. Sprin­kle the veg­eta­bles with a lit­tle salt and pep­per. Bake un­til the sweet pota­toes are ten­der, the ba­con is siz­zling, and the pas­try is puffed and golden, about 20 min­utes. Re­move the bak­ing sheet from the oven and crack the egg onto the galette. Sprin­kle the egg with some salt and pep­per. Re­turn to the oven and bake un­til the egg white is set and the yolk is still a bit runny, about 6 min­utes. Serve warm or at room tem­per­a­ture. Serves 2.

Send us your Re­quests Which restau­rant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food prod­ucts are you hav­ing dif­fi­culty find­ing? Do you have cook­ing ques­tions? Send them to me. Con­tact Stephen Fries, pro­fes­sor and co­or­di­na­tor of the Hos­pi­tal­ity Man­age­ment Pro­grams at Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege, at gw­stephen.fries@gwcc.comm­ or Dept. FC, Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege, 20 Church St., New Haven, 06510. In­clude your full name, ad­dress and phone num­ber. Due to vol­ume, I might not be able to pub­lish ev­ery re­quest. For more, go to stephen­


New Haven Restau­rant Week, Con­tin­ues through Nov. 10, two-course prix-fixe lunch $17, 3-course prix-fixe din­ner $34, par­tic­i­pat­ing restau­rants, menus and in­for­ma­tion at­b4p. Con­siglio’s Cook­ing Demon­stra­tion and Din­ner: Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m., Con­siglio’s Restau­rant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reser­va­tions re­quired), $65 (bev­er­ages, tax and gra­tu­ity not in­cluded). Prepa­ra­tion of a four-course meal is demon­strated. Each course is shown, step by step, and then served. Learn how to make some of Con­siglio’s trade­mark dishes: Baked Stuffed Egg­plant, Tortellini tossed with Sausage, Roasted Tomato, and Spinach, Veal Osso Bucco, Pump­kin Cheese­cake. Fox­woods on Tap Craft Beer Fes­ti­val, 4 p.m. , Nov. 11. Fox­woods Casino’s Pre­mier ball­room, 350 Trol­ley Line Blvd., Mashan­tucket. Stan­dard tick­ets are $35; VIP tick­ets are $55 and in­clude ad­mis­sion one hour early at 3 p.m., a food voucher and com­mem­o­ra­tive hat. Beer tast­ings from more than 70 Amer­i­can craft brew­eries, live mu­sic, games and food for pur­chase. More de­tails at Stir­ring Your Com­muni“tini” gala, Nov. 17, 5:30 p.m., Scinto Tow­ers Lobby, 2 Cor­po­rate Drive, Shel­ton. $50 on­line at www.val­leyu­nit­ed­ or Val­ley United Way at 203926-9478. Top area restau­rants will be on hand with tasty bite-size ap­pe­tiz­ers, each paired with a dif­fer­ent 1 oz. sig­na­ture mar­tini sam­ple. There will be a Peo­ple’s Choice and a Critic’s Choice award given for the best pair­ing. En­ter­tain­ment by Tony Ric­cio (Frank Si­na­tra trib­ute) and Jack Lynn (Dean Martin trib­ute). There will be a James Bond Cos­tume Con­test as well as a “SurPrize Bal­loon Pop” raf­fle, fea­tur­ing a chance to win an ex­quis­ite “Rhythm of Love” di­a­mond pendant val­ued at $2,500. All pro­ceeds go to Val­ley United Way’s pro­grams, which focus on food in­se­cu­rity. Hol­i­day Fan­tasy of Trees, noon to 8 p.m., Nov. 18-19, St. Bar­bara Greek Or­tho­dox Church So­cial Hall, 480 Race­brook Road, Or­ange, 203-795-1347. Greek food and pas­tries, along with tra­di­tional hol­i­day treats, food range from $4-$12, dessert from $1 to $8.

Con­trib­uted pho­tos

Roasted Car­rots and Cranberries, one of the recipes from “The Cran­berry Cook­book.” The Cran­berry Cook­book, by Sally Var­gas, cour­tesy of Globe Pe­quot.

A Sweet Potato Galette, from “Sweet Pota­toes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried and Made into Pie.”

A Roasted Har­vest Veg­etable Soup with Cran­berry Coulis, from “The Cran­berry Cook­book.” Roasted

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