Tag Archives: delicious

Cranberry Sauce

IMG_2077

Since it is the start of December, I thought it was time for something for Xmas. As someone who isn’t religious, I think it is a bit hypocritical to get too involved in the festivities but there are certain things you sort of get caught up in – it is rude not to buy people presents etc. The best thing about Christmas is the food, admittedly not the turkey though, that just provides a base for all of the excellent bits and pieces. Cranberry sauce makes Christmas!

Cranberry sauce is not just for the end of December, it is fantastic with almost all poultry and especially good in a sandwich with the cold meat the day after. I love the stuff from a pot and eat mountains of it but I try not to buy things now when I have a saucepan and a supermarket!

It was a bit of a brave new world when it came to melting sugar for the caramel but I kept the words of Gordon Ramsay in mind “You have to have the confidence to let the sugar brown”, on the basis that I also had to let it brown and get some suitably pretentious photographs before chucking in the cranberries, I think I almost took this to the point of excess and wouldn’t have wanted to wait too much longer. IMG_2071

Apart from the sugar, everything else was plain sailing and really pretty easy. Cleaning the pan and spoon was a bit of a pain though.

Notes

  • I put a splash of Cranberry juice in to calm the sugar down a bit too as my fresh cranberries were a touch on the dry side, using frozen might well be advisable.
  • The sauce seemed to be a black hole for liquid, don’t worry if it seems to be too wet at any point as it will get absorbed by the cranberries very quickly.
  • Once the cranberries have been in for about 5 minutes, it is worth going through the mixture to check they have all split, I found there were still a few hard little bullets that hadn’t broken down. I light press against the bottom of the pan seemed to do the trick.
  • I used Grand Marnier instead of the more frequently used port because I thought it would be a good way to keep the flavour more tart.

IMG_2056

Ingredients

100g of sugar (or a little more if you want it sweeter)

300g of cranberries (fresh or frozen (defrosted))

An optional splash of cranberry juice

The zest and juice of an orange

A cinnamon stick

A couple of scrunched up bay leaves

A couple of cloves, crushed

A star anise (optional)

4 or 5 cardamon pods lightly bashed

A glug of Grand Marnier or port

 

Method

  1. Pour the sugar into the pan of choice, I used a frying pan but a saucepan would be just as good. Heat at a moderate temperature, keeping an eye on it.
  2. The sugar will melt fairly quickly once it starts to change colour, let it start bubbling for 10-20 seconds, pour in the cranberries – this is less explosive than I was expecting! you want to stir well and keep everything moving. This is a good time to add the orange to cool the sugar a little and make it more manageable.
  3. Once the cranberries have started to break down and it is becoming a bit more manageable, add the spices and alcohol, this will deglaze the pan. turn the hob down to let it simmer to infuse all of the flavours.
  4. Add some more liquid (orange juice or cranberry) to get it to your desired consistency and sweetness, remembering that it will thicken as it cools.
  5. Be careful decanting it because it isn’t an easy pour!

IMG_0165

 

IMG_2084

Saucy Tips

As you may have realised , I am no expert but have picked up a few things that might be helpful to you. Most of them are mainly common sense but a some were a bit of a revelation to me. I will update this page when I come across new gems of information, which I will no doubt learn from making a pigs ear of things! More importantly, please leave a comment if you have any of your own.

Be patient – A sauce splitting is because you have either heated it too quickly or added things too quickly. The same with lumps, if you take your time you are much less likely to have a problem.

The longer the better – Similar to being patient, the longer you can cook a sauce the stronger the blend of flavours will be. Try and let a sauce simmer as long as possible. It is the best way to make a good sauce a very good one. Keep an eye though.

Thickening – If you want to thicken a sauce, there are a couple of options. The easiest is to just it reduce with heat but this can take an age and you have to keep it moving or there will be sticking/burning issues. The other option is to add flour as a thickening agent. Adding flour (plain or cornflour) straight to the pan will lead to a lumpy mass of disaster so the trick is to mix a paste of a little flour – a little goes a long way – then gradually add a little water and stir to a paste. Add a bit more so it becomes a bit wetter and then pour this into your sauce. Make sure you cook it out for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste and it will take a minute or two to thicken the sauce so don’t be disheartened!

Preparation is key – If you measure things out first then it is just a case of throwing them in. While it might create a bit more washing up it will save you losing track of time while chopping and scorching something. Or in my case, rummaging around in a cupboard trying to find something.

Don’t pour straight from the pot – When adding herbs or seasoning, I always pour things into my (clean) hand first. Not only does this act as a measuring method but also it prevents an unscrewed lid disaster. Also, it prevents condensation getting into pots of herbs and it all getting gummed up and disgusting.

Tried and tasted – Taste whenever you think you should. Don’t miss an opportunity to add more of something because you didn’t try it.

Match your sauce to the dish – If you are cooking a fillet steak the sauce should compliment it and not overpower it. However if you are using something cheap or less flavoursome you might want the sauce to be the focus of the dish.

Experiment – Everyone’s taste is different. If you see a recipe you like always ask “what would make this better for me?” Unless of course you are doing something classic, messing with the classics will upset the food gods!

Fat isn’t the end of the world – While it isn’t overly healthy, a bit of fat is needed in things. It adds flavour and also plays a part in texture. As they say, everything in moderation. A bit of butter as a sauce is nearly finished will give it a healthy gloss.

Waste not want not – You might not be making a sauce that day but you might have some water you have boiled veg in or some juice from some meat. Pour it into a bowl and put it in the fridge. Things will last a few days and will be better than any stock cube.

Cheat ingredients – Everyone has their own cheat ingredients. Marmite is one of my favourites. I often use it as a substitute for salt as it adds a savoury boost giving things a bit extra. Some use smooth peanut butter or a squeeze of honey. HP Sauce is a good one for BBQ Sauce. My aunt swears by a teaspoon of mayonnaise in soup just before serving. Mushroom ketchup is amazing in small quantities, it adds something that you don’t notice what it is but it is good.

Basic Mayonnaise

IMG_0087

I thought it was time for a classic. Although it could be considered a cooking building block. Mayonnaise is a foundation to so many things like Marie Rose and Tartar Sauce. Don’t worry, I’ll get to those soon It has to be good because it is enormously calorific! While it is so easy just to dollop some Hellmann’s onto things, it has nowhere near the depth of flavour you can expect from home made stuff.

Now in the interests of full disclosure, I have never made mayonnaise before so it was a sharp learning curve! I messed up the first go because I tried to cut down the quantity to one egg’s worth (I’m on a quest to lose weight and don’t want too much of the stuff kicking about). I now have a very tired forearm and a ramekin full for my troubles. I ordered a Kenwood stand mixer and I would imagine doing mayonnaise in one of those would be significantly less tedious! Unfortunately, I don’t know if I will be allowed to open it before Xmas…even if I paid for it.

Notes 

  • It is worth putting the bowl on a wet tea towel because you have to go hands free when adding the oil and it becomes a pain as it starts to thicken.
  • A number of recipes I looked at seemed to disagree on when the vinegar went in, some said put all in half way, some said do it a drop at a time so I mixed the vinegar into the oil at half time and it worked well. It also keeps the thickness a bit more consistent.

Ingredients 

IMG_1909

To make a large ramekin full

2 Egg yolks

300ml of oil I found that olive oil overpowers it and turns it into the olive oil show so mixed 50/50 olive/rape.

1 teaspoon Mustard powder This is key to help the emulsification process and doesn’t really flavour it too heavily.

1 tablespoon of White wine vinegar Possibly a splash more to taste

A squeeze of lemon

Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Put the egg yolks in a bowl with the mustard powder and a little salt and whisk until the eggs are well beaten.IMG_1917
  2. Slowly start pouring the oil into the egg. There seem to be a lot of horror stories about this and some say a drop at a time, I would say I did a dash at a time and it seemed to work ok. Sorry, there were no photos here, my hands were full! you are looking to start feeling the mixture emulsifying (thickening) almost immediately after you start adding the oil.
  3. Once you have about half of the oil in, mix the white wine vinegar into the oil and then start pouring in again – you can pick up the pace a bit but don’t go mad, maybe little splashes.
  4. Now it is time to put a squeeze of lemon and grind of pepper and salt. and a last stir.

Now you can let your forearms relax

Given that mayonnaise is almost an ingredient, there will be a top 10 best uses coming up soon so get your suggestions in guys!