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12 Days of Recipes: Cranberry-Mandarin Christmas Preserves

Holiday Preserves on Brie 2 12 Days of Recipes: Cranberry Mandarin Christmas Preserves

THIS.

Baked brie with Christmas preserves: it’s what’s for dinner. And breakfast, probably.

Christmas preserves 1 12 Days of Recipes: Cranberry Mandarin Christmas Preserves

I’ve embraced this season of chocolates, cookies and leftover party food as in place of our regular meals, or at least as supplements. I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten more baked brie in the last few weeks as I have all year – and I’m counting on more tonight.

Christmas Preserves 2 12 Days of Recipes: Cranberry Mandarin Christmas Preserves

About twenty years ago, I was in my early twenties visiting a friend in Saskatoon – she lived in a corner bungalow that back then cost so little these days I could probably put it on my credit card – and she had two small kids, a work and soccer schedule, and the whole scenario seemed so grown-up, especially when we decided one day to make a big pot of preserves to divvy into jars and hand out as Christmas gifts. We came up with this mishmash of holiday flavours – citrus, cranberries, nuts and spice – and made a special run to the store for some liquid pectin, which it turns out we didn’t really need. It tasted like Christmas, and we sat on stools in the kitchen and ate so much of it spread on crackers that I had to curl up on the couch afterward. (We may have been chasing it with Bailey’s.)

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I’ve been meaning to make it again, and came across the old jotted-down-on-foolscap recipe, which it turns out (now that I know better) needed a lot of tweaking. It is perhaps the simplest preserve you could make, the high-pectin cranberries taking care of any jelling that needs to happen. It’s also a great way to use up those smooshy Mandarin oranges that seem to abound in every box. It’s sort of a holiday preserve cure-all; it’s not really jam, but is great on toast. It’s delicious warmed and poured over ice cream or cake, or spooned into the middle of those little shortbread thumbprint cookies. And of course – on top of a wheel of Brie. (Slice the rind off the top of a wheel of brie, put it in a baking dish, top with big spoonfuls of these preserves and bake at 350 or so until it starts to get all melty. That’s it.) And it keeps for ages in jars in the fridge or freezer – I imagine you could process it for longer shelf storage, too – I packed mine into Weck jars and will be bringing it along to Christmas parties for the next couple weeks.

Holiday Preserves on Brie 1 12 Days of Recipes: Cranberry Mandarin Christmas Preserves

Speaking of processing – this process was sped up by pulsing the oranges and lemons into a chunky mash in a food processor. It was part of a quest to come up with holiday recipes for fun kitchen appliances at London Drugs – and they have another $100 gift card to give away to one of you for your shopping pleasure! (Disclaimer: it doesn’t have to be for anyone else, you could just shop for yourself.) I should also mention that it’s my belief that kitchen appliances make perfectly suitable gifts – I know a lot of men are told they should be buying jewelry or some such, and that home appliances come with some negative domestic implications, but I for one would choose a waffle iron or coffee machine over diamonds any day. Just sayin’.

To enter, leave a comment here! If you’re heading to a Christmas party (or hosting one) this weekend, what was your favourite thing to eat? And if you’re hunkering down at home and avoiding those minus a hundred temperatures, what have you been eating curled up on the couch?

Cranberry-Mandarin Christmas Preserves

5-6 Mandarin oranges or 2-3 regular oranges
2 small lemons
4 cups sugar
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Grate the zest off the oranges and lemons into a large saucepan or small pot. Peel the fruit and break (or slice) the insides into chunks (quarters are fine) into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, just until chunky. Add to the saucepan with the zest.

Add the sugar, cranberries, raisins, cinnamon and allspice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture thickens and becomes more uniform in colour and the cranberries pop. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Remove the cinnamon sticks, if you used them, and stir in the pecans.

Store in jars in the fridge for up to a month, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Makes about 6 cups.

* This post was generously sponsored by London Drugs as part of their #LDHoliday campaign, but the words and thoughts are my own. Thanks, London Drugs!

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December 07 2013 | appetizers and preserves | 95 Comments »

Anna Olson’s Cheesecake with Holiday Fruit Compote

cheesecake 3 Anna Olsons Cheesecake with Holiday Fruit Compote

Today it’s going to be short and sweet. (Literally.) I forgot to tell you about this cheesecake.

One day while I was out in Jasper, I snuck samples of Anna Olson‘s classic New York cheesecake out of her CIN session to take a few photos outside – warding off the chipmunks – and then spread eagled on my perfectly made (ironed, even) sheets and ate both – with a magazine and a latte.

me michael and anna1 Anna Olsons Cheesecake with Holiday Fruit Compote

I always learn something from Anna and Michael – this year I managed to sit in on only a bit of their session, but learned that if you put the base of your springform pan in upside down, you get rid of that lip that makes it almost impossible to cleanly slide a cake server or knife under your slice of cheesecake to get it out. Smart lady, she is. And she always has great hair. (I do not. I try.)

Of course being the queen of everything sweet, she makes a mean cheesecake -and a super fab holiday fruit compote to drape overtop- and cutting them into squares totally makes them finger food. I think I like hers better than my standard cheesecake, one from the old Canadian Living Cookbook I’ve used since I was a teenager and 80s Mike decided he was mature enough to upgrade the angel food birthday cake of his childhood to a far more sophisticated plain cheesecake. Truth.

Anna Olson’s Classic New York Cheesecake

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted (plus a bit extra)

Cheesecake:
4 – 250g pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups sour cream (not low-fat), divided
2 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F

To make the crust, stir the graham crumbs, sugar and 1/4 cup melted butter until evenly combined and press into the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool. Brush the sides of the pan with a little melted butter.

Increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the 1 1/4 cups of sugar a little at a time, and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often. Beat in the cornstarch, vanilla and lemon zest. Beat in the eggs one at a time, on a lower speed, and scraping after each addition, then beat in the yolk. Still on low speed, beat in 3/4 cup of sour cream. Scrape this over the cooled crust.

Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes at 400°F and then reduce the oven temperature to 225°F and bake for 25 more minutes. Turn off the oven, and leave the cheesecake in for an hour, cracking the oven door after 30 minutes.

While the cheesecake is baking, prepare the sour cream layer – stir the remaining 3/4 cup of sour cream with the remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar and the lemon juice. Spread this over the top of the cheesecake as soon as it has come out of the oven. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely to room temperature, then carefully run a spatula around the outside of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan, then chill the cheesecake for at least 6 hours before slicing and serving. The cheesecake will keep, refrigerated, for up to 4 days.

Holiday Fruit Compote

4 cups peeled and diced ripe bartlett pears
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup orange liqueur (optional)

Bring all ingredients up to a simmer in a large, heavy- bottomed saucepot, stirring often. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until pears are tender and cranberries have popped. Pack into sterilized jars and seal, or store refrigerated for up to 4 weeks.

Compote can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Makes about 8 cups.

pixel Anna Olsons Cheesecake with Holiday Fruit Compote
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November 25 2013 | cake and dessert and preserves | 14 Comments »

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