Cranberries aren’t often used as a primary ingredient, but for added zing, colour, and lots of Vitamin C, throw a handful into jellies, chutney, confits, porridge and jus; mix into pies, tarts, bread and cakes; and add them to any dish involving orange, port or red wine.
Simmer with water and sugar, or orange juice, to make a simple sauce.
Make a gourmet butter by letting some butter get to room temperature, microwave for about three seconds or longer as necessary, just to get it slightly melty, chop up some cranberries and grated orange zest and mix everything together. Mould into a pleasant shape and put back in the fridge to firm up. If you mould it into a long cylinder, when it is cool you can slice the cylinder into thick disks and place these upon, say, some hot roast chicken, duck or goose, and let the butter melt, spreading its berry and citrus flavours and aroma into the meat.
An American favourite. Bake your cranberries, mix with sugar to form a syrup, add vinegar, wine or Champagne, and sage leaves, and serve with a mixer.
Try making ‘kissel’ — iced cranberry mousse — out of leftover cranberries. Stew half a pound in berries in two pints of water and, say, two or three tablespoons of sugar. When the berries are bursting out of their skins, sieve them to remove the skins and mix, over a low heat, with a couple of tablespoons of cornflour. When the mixture is thick and syrupy, chill it until set in the fridge. Serve with cream. This was originally a Russian recipe; for the real thing, source some potato flour instead of cornflour.
To make fake edible holly berries, take some firm shiny cranberries, place upon the mince pies or chocolate log or whatever, and dust them with sugar or (even better) edible glitter. (We swear by edible glitter – try green at Halloween, silver and gold at Christmas, pink for a girl and blue for a boy etc)
Press cranberries and oranges together and you won’t need any coffee in the morning!
Our wine buff, Richard J Smith of the Wine School of Cheshire says: for a bargain, go for Graham Beck (of South Africa) 2009 Blanc de Blancs – usually £13 to £15, this vintage fizz has been made on the lees and the yeasty flavour is a perfect pairing with sage and cranberries. Try it here, currently (November 2015) £14.79