Foothill gourmet: Spice up the holidays

By From page B2 | October 28, 2013

Donna BrownOctober and November holidays have most kitchens filled with the smells of pumpkin or cranberries.

A huge thank you goes to two of my long-time friends who took the time to share favorites. Today’s column also features several new cranberry recipes, that you might like to try for the upcoming holidays.

My friend Traci recommends pumpkin pie squares. The dessert earned raves from both her husband and son when tried in September.

Pumpkin pie squares — Ingredients: Crust — 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, old-fashioned or instant, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter softened. Combine all ingredients and mix until crumbly. Press on the bottom of an un-greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Set aside.

Filling — 3/4 cup sugar, 1 15-ounce can packed pumpkin, 1 can Carnation evaporated milk, 2 eggs, 2 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice. Combine all ingredients and pour over baked crust. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Topping — 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Combine ingredients and sprinkle over baked filling. Continue baking at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let dessert cool for a couple of hours, so it will set up for cutting into squares. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

Another friend, JoAnn, has prepared her spicy cranberry chutney every holiday for more than 25 years. That’s tradition.

This chutney is flavored with baking spices for flavor but not spicy. It also accents pork, as well as turkey, and is versatile for using up frozen cranberries.

Spicy cranberry chutney — Combine 4 cups (1 pound) fresh cranberries, 1 cup seedless raisins, 1 2/3 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger, ¼ teaspoons ground cloves and 1 cup water. Cook 15 minutes, until berries pop and the mixture thickens. Stir in ½ cup chopped onion, 1 medium apple pared and diced, and ½ cup thinly sliced celery. Simmer 15 minutes longer or until mixture is thick. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cranberry apricot chutney — Prep and cook time about 20 minutes, plus about 1 hour to cool. Can be made ahead, chill airtight up to three days or freeze up to 1 month.

Cranberry tangerine Sauce — Ingredients: 1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots, 1/3 cup dried currants, 1/3 cup golden raisins, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tangerines (about ¼ pound each), and ½ cup chopped pecans. Sort cranberries, discarding any bruised or decayed fruit, then rinse.

In a 3 to 4 quart pan over medium-high heat, bring 1 cup water, cranberries, sugar, apricots, currants, raisins and vinegar to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to pop, 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, pull off peel and white membrane fibers from tangerines; discard peel and fibers; separate segments and coarsely chop, discarding seeds. Add tangerines and juice to pan; simmer to blend flavors, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in pecans, Serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes about 5 cups. Great on moist cakes or ice cream.

Enjoy the fall season with delicious aromas.

Donna Brown

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