It’s that time of year again. When my local SPAR grocery store stocks Ocean Spray cranberries in that familiar packaging, making my heart flutter. I’m not sure what the Belgians do with the cranberries, but this Texan knows quite a few ways to prepare them. (Jeweled Cranberry Bread, anyone?) I buy a bag every time I go to the store and put the ones I don’t use immediately in my freezer. I started experimenting with cranberry salsas in October. I took a batch to my writing group in the Netherlands and while the guys in the group gobbled it up, my best friend and I decided it was too sweet. I kept tweaking and I took my perfected recipe to the American Women’s Club of Antwerp’s Friendsgiving meeting. Less sweet, more kick, and a bit of a smoky flavor, the lovely ladies gobbled it up and then requested the recipe.
12 ounces (340 grams) fresh cranberries (again, you can freeze and use thawed cranberries, too)
2 Tablespoons white sugar (you can do as much as a 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar or even more – it just depends on your sweet tooth)
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, & sliced (See Pearl of Wisdom 1 below)
1 whole mandarin orange, chopped into fourths (include the rind)
1/4 cup (60 ml) of orange juice
1/2 cup (25 grams) cilantro (koriander in Dutch. I found the wispy koriander to have a lot less taste than the sturdier kind. My local Albert Heijn stocks wispy from Morocco and the familiar from the Netherlands.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or pumpkin pie spice, if you have it on hand)
4 or 5 shakes of Tabasco (See Pearl of Wisdom 2 below)
Salt to taste
1 or 2 chopped green onions, white and green parts
Using a food processor, combine fresh cranberries, red bell peppers, orange slices, orange juice, and cilantro leaves. Pulse until finely chopped but not mushy.
Place contents into a bowl and add cumin, ginger, Tabasco, and salt. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Serve with tortilla chips, or over cream cheese with crackers.
Pearl of Wisdom 1 – To roast bell peppers pre-heat oven on broil. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and membranes. Place skin side up in the oven for a few minutes. Once edges turn black, remove from oven and place in a zip lock bag for 20 minutes. The steam will loosen the skins. Once steamed and cooled, you’ll be able to peel the skins from the peppers easily.
Pearl of Wisdom 2 – Sometimes in Europe jalapeno peppers are hard to come by, but you can also substitute 1 or 2 green jalapeno peppers for Tabasco. Chop tops and remove seeds and membranes using a knife. Never use your fingers because the oils from the peppers will burn your skin. For hours. It’s just one of those things you only do once. Also, the pointier the jalapeno, the spicier it is. At least that’s what my aunt and uncle from El Paso tell me. And they should know.