Bonus Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers December 2016

I’ve been baking bread from Rose’s Bread Bible for many years, and over the years a number of her recipes have become staples for me. One of my staples was our first recipe from the bake-along for blueberry muffins. You can find the review of that recipe here.

main_variation_default_view_1_425x425Another go-to recipe of Rose’s is one that I bake every year during the holiday season for gift giving. It is a sure-fire crowd pleaser. Rose’s Cranberry-Banana-Walnut Quick Bread is as quick and easy to make as the name implies. I typically double the recipe and bake it in small (6” X 2.5”) disposable loaf pans that I buy at Sur La Table. You can buy these individually for $.75 US each. A double recipe will make five loaves (filling the pans almost to the top) and you may have a bit left for a muffin or two.  When baking, I place the filled loaf pans on a cookie sheet so they are well supported and I can easily transport them to and from the oven.  I bake these loaves for approximately 45 minutes at 350°.  Muffins will take approximately 20 minutes.  Naturally, they will bake a little more quickly if you bake using convection mode.

The flavor of this bread is a nice juxtaposition of sweet bananas and tart cranberries, and while the flavor combo is a bit more complex, it is no more difficult to make than your typical banana nut bread.  One important note is that Rose recommends that you cut your cranberries in half before adding them to the batter.  Being the lazy girl that I am, I just put them in the food processor and pulse for a moment.  This normally works well, but this time around I used previously frozen and thawed berries.  After thawing and pulsing, I had a bit of liquid in the bowl.  Although I drained the berries, I still ended up with a bit of discoloration in the finished bread.  For this reason, I would not recommend using thawed cranberries.  Use fresh berries, or pulse them and fold into the batter while they are still frozen.

By the way, I failed to mention that the baked mini-loaves freeze very well.  I typically bake these (and a favorite pound cake recipe) early in the month and then I put them in ziplock bags and freeze them.  As I am making my holiday rounds and know that I will see a recipient I pull one out of the freezer.

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While Rose has never published the recipe outside of the book, there is a version of the recipe on food.com that is close.  If you are looking for a giftable recipe, this may be the one for you.  I have often given these packaged in a gift bag along with a Christmas card and Starbucks gift card.  That way the recipient can get a hot beverage to accompany their sweet treat.  Don’t be surprised if the feedback you receive is that it was so good the recipient ate it all in one sitting.

If you try this recipe, I’m eager to hear about your results.  Also, if you have other baked “gift-ables”that you make, I’d love to hear about them!

Melinda Lee’s Fresh Cranberry Chutney

red-63861_640With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to share with you a recipe which rocked my sister-in-law’s world.  Let me explain.  Several years ago we had a potluck Thanksgiving dinner at my mother’s house and Sharon (AKA SIL) was new to the family.  This is one of the recipes that I took to dinner.  If you are accustomed to the typical Oceanspray canned cranberry sauce, or worse that jelly looking version (sorry Oceanspray) you are in for a new and exciting culinary experience.
_dsc0169The taste and texture of fresh cranberries, even after cooking is totally different from the canned stuff.  SIL didn’t know that you could buy and cook fresh cranberries — I know she is not alone.  Heck, I was raised on the canned stuff and happened upon the bagged fresh cranberries in the produce department when I moved to the city.  If you’d like to experience the taste and texture of fresh cranberries, this is a good starter recipe.  The mix of spices gives the chutney a nice kick, and it is so good I highly recommend making extra so that you have plenty to eat.  It also makes a great foodie gift.

 

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The finished chutney

Per the recipe, it makes about a quart which is 32 servings — roughly one ounce per serving.  You can put this into Mason jars and refrigerate it where it will keep for up to a year.  It is so great on sandwiches!  By the way, if you make a batch now as I did, you can enjoy some now for Thanksgiving and have it again next month for Christmas.  My one caution is that this recipe is a tad on the pricey side as you add up the cost of ingredients like crystallized ginger, nuts, currants, dates and the various spices.

 

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Melinda Lee is a local cooking show radio host, and I copied this recipe from her website.  She has a variety of recipes for fresh cranberries so if chutney just isn’t your thing I’m sure there is something else you can try.

0e4c5a70e7d90bd4This is a great recipe to give your food processor a workout with.  If you haven’t cooked fresh cranberries before, be aware that they do make a popping noise as they cook.  FYI, I always make this with blanched, slivered almonds which I think are ideal.  I’m not sure I’d really like one of the substitutions.

MELINDA LEE’S CRANBERRY CHUTNEY RECIPE

Here’s an interesting alternative to the traditional cranberry sauce. This chutney must be made a day or more in advance, to allow the flavors to “bloom” – but the good news is that it can be made up to a year ahead, and will keep in the refrigerator or freezer for use as a condiment with other meats or poultry for all that time.

MAKES ABOUT 1 QUART (32 SERVINGS)  Note:  I made 1.5 times the recipe amount in the pot above and was able to fill four 17 ounce canning jars.

4 cups (one pound), cranberries – picked over, washed and dried
2 cups, water
1 cup, sugar
½ cup, cider vinegar
1 medium-size, onion – chopped fine
1 large clove, garlic – minced
1 tablespoon, cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon, allspice
1 teaspoon, salt
1/8 teaspoon, cayenne pepper
1 cup, chopped, pitted dates
1 cup, dried currants
2/3 cup, dark brown sugar (packed measure)
1/2 cup, crystallized ginger – minced [this is one, 4-ounce package, if purchased in a package]
1 cup, slivered, blanched almonds (or chopped pecans, or other nuts)

In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cider vinegar, onion, garlic and seasonings listed (through cayenne pepper) not including the cranberries, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries, dates, currants, brown sugar and ginger, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes longer. Stir in the nuts.

Let me know if this recipe is a hit with your holiday dinner guests!

Cool mixture, transfer to a bowl or other container, cover and refrigerate for at least one day to blend flavors. Best served at room temperature.