Other People’s Recipes: Cranberry Compote

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Every Thanksgiving when the fresh cranberries arrive in the stores, I make this cranberry compote. It’s based on my mother’s recipe for prune compote. Where did Mom get it? Who knows? Maybe from her mom.

Mom took pitted prunes, apples, pears, and lemon peel, mixed in a goodly amount of sugar or saccharine, and cooked till the fruit turned sort of mushy. Cranberry compote is pretty much the same. Not nearly as sweet. Honestly, it tastes pretty much purse-your-lips-sour no matter how much sugar you add.

  • 2 regular or one large bag of cranberries, picked through and washed
  • 2 large apples, I use honey crisp, Granny Smith, or Fuji
  • 2 pears, usually bosc
  • 1-2 lemons, peel only, cut in strips (optional)
  • Up to 1 cup of sugar or maple syrup or honey or sweetener of your choice
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon

Put everything in a large pot and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and everything looks like jam. Taste it. If it’s not quite sweet enough, add more sweetener but be careful–if you add too much the compote will start to taste bitter.

One tip I discovered a couple years ago. Use two different kinds of sweetener. Brown and white sugar. Or maple syrup and honey. Or coconut sugar and Erythritol. Combining the  sweeteners tends to cut the sourness.

I have to admit. No one likes this but me. It’s too sour, especially since I add as much lemon peel as I can get away with. But if you like sour with a touch of sweetness, this one’s for you.

 

Other People’s Recipes: Tarte Tatin

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I’d seen a version of Tarte Tatin on Food Network, and when we accepted the invite to my son’s  Thanksgiving dinner, decided THIS was the recipe I’d make.

Except it seemed a bit complicated. Especially when I considered making my own rough puff pastry. I’m a total failure at pastry, tending to overwork it. But never mind. Refrigerated pie dough to the rescue.

Why did I decide to use pie dough instead of puff pastry dough? Both are available, true. But since the tart crust ends up on the bottom, pie crust made sense.

Sadly, I couldn’t find the Food Network recipe online. I got the ‘this page cannot be found’ message. Aagh. Oh well. One recipe has to be like the others. Right?

Wrong. There are more versions of this little recipe than you might think. So I did what I do, and combined recipes to make it easier on me. The ingredients:

  • 6 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and cut lengthwise in quarters, saving one half
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus as much lemon juice as needed to marinate the apples
  • 1/2 stick butter (4 oz.) cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust

Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit. Marinate the apples in the lemon zest, juice, and 1/2 cup of sugar for about 20 minutes. Mix gently–I used my hands–to make sure all the apples are covered in lemon juice and sugar.

Using an oven-proof 10 inch skillet, put the butter in the skillet and sprinkle with sugar. With the heat on medium-low, let the butter and sugar melt, stirring frequently. When the butter and sugar are more-or-less liquid, add the vanilla. Let the mixture cook for 3-5 minutes. CAREFULLY add the apple slices, with the half apple in the middle and the quarters arranged around it, overlapping, round side down. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

When the apples feel semi cooked, take the pan off the heat and lay the pie dough on top. I cut a hole in the center of the pie dough for venting, but you can also prick the dough with a fork.

Place your oven-proof skillet on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 425 Fahrenheit oven for 20-30 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven when the pie crust looks golden brown.

Wait 10-15 minutes–no longer because if the tart is too cool it will stick to the pan– then CAREFULLY turn your tart onto a plate. Most recipes call for vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, but I left home too late and the stores were closed. I served the tart naked.

On a scale of (1) Easy to (10) Way-too-much-trouble, I’d say this was a 9. Coring and peeling the apples took forever. Turning it onto a plate gave me an anxiety attack. And since it wasn’t pumpkin or pecan pie, or even the amazing peach cobbler someone brought, my tart got a little lost among the dessert options.

But never mind. When it was time to leave, I put half on a paper plate for latecomers. The other half I dropped accidentally on my hostess’s newly installed carpet. No leftovers.

Would I make this again? Maybe. I need some time to think about it…