Cranberry & Clementine Conserve

Cranberry & Clementine ConserveWell, it’s been a minute, hasn’t it? One moment I’m making pumpkin french toast & the next I’m gone for weeks! It’s been a rough almost two months, but with the end of the semester nearing and the holidays upon us, I have every reason to make it through and get back to spending some time here with you all. Good riddance, first colds of the season, stomach flu, ailing relatives, antibiotic allergies, clogged up kitchen sink, hives! I’m telling you, we’ve had a rotten few weeks around the Femme Fraîche Fortress! Our survival, though, just serves as added material to consider around our Thanksgiving table this week.

Cranberry & Clementine ConserveI’ve been organizing and cooking our Thanksgiving dinners the past few years, often with the help of friends, and this cranberry & clementine conserve is a tried and true staple. I’m such a fan of this stuff, that I make it at all different times of the year (it’s totally acceptable to hoard cranberries while they’re fresh & freeze them, didn’t you know?) and pair it with so many other dishes other than the glory that is roasted turkey. It is, perhaps obviously, amazing alongside chicken and also pork, but it’s also delicious used as a jelly, spread on wheat toast that’s been topped with cream cheese. I’ve garnished oatmeal with it, swirled it into yogurt, and even had it on vanilla ice cream once. My grandmother, who is not the best judge of how to pair foods, also swears by eating it with meatloaf. I can’t vouch for that one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s strangely delicious – it seems to be the perfect topper or side to many different kinds of meals.
Cranberry & Clementine ConserveWhat’s behind its versatility? I think it’s the very way in which it is such a mélange of flavors and textures. It is tart from the fresh cranberries and Granny Smith apple, yes, but it’s also sweet from the clementine juice and golden raisins, citrusy and fragrant from the zests, and crunchy from the toasted walnuts. When paired with something savory, it is, in fact, a perfect bite. Try this delicious take on cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving meal. It will be the perfect addition this year and for those to come, though I’m willing to bet that once you try this, it will finds its way into your fridge – and heart! – all throughout the year. Cranberry & Clementine Conserve
Cranberry & Clementine Conserve
Yields approximately 4 cups; adapted slightly from here.

12 ounces of fresh cranberries
1-3/4 cups of white, granulated sugar
1 cup of water
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 Clementines, zested & juiced (may substitute 1 orange)
1 Lemon, zested & juiced
3/4 cup of golden raisins
3/4 cup of toasted walnuts, chopped

In a dry skillet, toast walnuts over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned and fragrant (you can always tell when nuts are done toasting by the amazing smell!); approximately 5 minutes. Be sure the walnuts are in a single layer in order to get even toasting. If you are working with pre-chopped walnuts, this process may take less than 5 minutes. Once your walnuts are toasted, remove from heat and allow to cool before chopping roughly if necessary. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, and water and heat over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until the cranberry skins are mostly all popped. Stir this mixture occasionally and don’t be alarmed if a bit of pink foam forms; this is just the berries releasing their pectin, which will help the sauce gel up. Next, add the chopped apple, the zests, the lemon & clementine juices, and stir together. Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the golden raisins and the toasted walnuts. Stir to combine and allow to cool fully before transferring to a storage container. Serve chilled.

Cranberry & Clementine Conserve keeps well in the fridge for over a week and takes very well to being frozen and thawed when next you need it.

Cilantro Pesto

Oh, cilantro pesto, how do I heart thee? Let me count the ways! You were the impromptu, yet perfect, accompaniment to an otherwise basic quesadilla lunch and then, you were suddenly so much more than that! You were fresh and garlicky alongside baby carrots at snack time. You were aromatic and savory stirred gently into a bowl of ordinary chicken noodle soup. You upgraded my homemade hummus and made a quick, herbacious aioli blended with mayonnaise. You were good mixed into white rice with a squeeze of lime juice aside spicy chipotle-marinated flank steak. You were all the things! Swoon!

This little condiment is as simple to make as it is versatile. It’s also fairly inexpensive, which is a great thing in general, but especially for an item that can be used across different kinds meals and cuisines to make everyday foods something new again. Try it as a marinade for meats and seafood or stir some into your next batch of chicken salad. The uses for cilantro pesto are endless and a nice change from its beloved (but standard) sibling, basil pesto. What would you make with it?

Cilantro Pesto
Yields approximately 1 cup

1 bunch of fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
2 Tablespoons of pine nuts (walnuts or sliced almonds can be substituted)
2 Tablespoons of fresh lime juice (about 1 large lime)
1/4 of a cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a shallow pan over medium-low for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until it is lightly browned, about 2 additional minutes. Add the pine nuts and cook for 2-3 minutes, carefully tossing them in the oil after each minute. They are done when they turn golden in color. Remove pan from the heat and pour contents into a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the remaining ingredients and some salt and pepper. Process until all the ingredients are combined and the mixture resembles a paste. Store in an airtight container with a drizzle of olive oil covering the surface to prevent browning. Last in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.

Note: You can also use an immersion blender if you’re without a food processor. In this case, you’ll want to pour the oil and garlic mixture on top of the other ingredients and then use the immersion blender so that they come into contact with the blades first and are properly pulverized. It may take a little bit more time to use the immersion blender and some stopping and starting to get all of the leaves minced and then combined, but it does work.