Simply Seasonal: Cranberries give color to the holiday season
EAGLE COUNTY CO, Colorado Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and remember our heritage. Massachusetts is a land of legends history buffs delight in tales of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, replicated at Plymouth Plantation each year. The first Thanksgiving feast is known as a day of thanks for the successful harvest a harvest of foods native to the region. Wild turkey, corn, squashes, pumpkin and cranberries were bountiful. Cranberries are one of three fruits indigenous to North America, the others being the blueberry and concord grape. The health benefits of cranberries is well known. Rich in vitamin C and loaded with antioxidants, many people look to cranberry juice as a cure-all for what ails us. The Native Americans also knew this to be true, using cranberries mixed with dried venison meat as a survival food throughout the harsh winters and in a poultice for aches, pains and wounds. Perhaps most unique about the cranberry is the way it grows in a bog. From ancient times it has grown wild, on vines, in sandy, marshy bogs. Massachusetts boasts the majority of the annual cranberry harvest, though Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington all have respectable crops. Fresh cranberries are harvested in two ways: the dry harvest uses a comb-like apparatus to scoop the berries from the vines. The wet harvest floods the bogs with water to release the berries from the vines, which causes them to float to the surface of the water. This brilliant red lake, combined with the red, yellow and orange foliage of the New England autumn is a spectacular Massachusetts phenomenon.Fresh cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving is a favorite condiment, but cranberries are tasty in all kinds of savory and sweet dishes, even in cocktails. For a festive start to your Thanksgiving holiday, serve a simple cranberry bellini, said Brian Harker, Avondales Bar Manager. This drink is a crowd pleaser throughout the holiday season, with its great red color. The Avondale dinner menu offers a delicious starter combining elements of a typical New England harvest. Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef at Avondale, creates an explosion of flavors and textures with his seared bay scallops accompanied by butternut squash puree, chorizo, soybeans and cranberries. Sweet scallops, spicy chorizo, tangy cranberries, crunchy soybeans and nutty squash this dish really wakes up the palate, he said.Alison Helfer, pastry chef at Avondale, whips up an easy batch of cranberry oat muffins to start the day. Treat overnight guests to a basket of these muffins before they head to the slopes, she said.
1/2 cup fresh cranberries1 cup cranberry juice1 bottle sparkling winePlace three cranberries in the bottom of six champagne flutes. Add an inch of cranberry juice to each flute. Top with sparkling wine. Add more cranberry juice to reach desired color. Serves 6.
1 pound large scallops1 small butternut squash, peeled, diced and roasted1/2 pound fresh soybeans, steamed and shelled1/2 pound Spanish chorizo, cut in quarter-inch dice1/2 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped1small shallot, minced1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar3 Tablespoons olive oil1/2 cup bread crumbs2 teaspoon melted butterSprings of fresh flat leaf parsleyCombine sherry vinegar with two tablespoons olive oil and add cranberries and shallot. Mix to coat and allow to macerate one hour. Toss breadcrumbs with butter, saute until golden and set aside. Puree butternut squash and leave in a thick consistency. Heat chorizo and keep warm.Heat remaining olive oil to hot and add scallops in a single layer. Working in batches, sear scallops on all sides until golden and crisp on the outside and barely cooked through. Keep warm.To plate the dish, place a few tablespoons of butternut squash in the center of each plate. Sprinkle with soybeans and chorizo. Place scallops on top. Top the scallops with cranberry mixture, then bread crumbs and parsley.Serves six.
1/2 stick butter, at room temperature1 1/4 cup sugar1 cup brown sugar4 eggs1 cup sour cream3 3/4 cup flour1 cup whole wheat flour1 cups oats3/4 teaspoon baking powder3/4 teaspoon baking soda2 cups cranberries, coarsely choppedCream butter, sugar and brown sugar together. Add eggs one by one and mix well. Combine dry ingredients. Add to sugar mixture and stir to moisten. Fold in cranberries. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle with sugar and oats. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Yield: 12 muffins. Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information visit http://www.avondalerestaurant.com.