Monday, December 12, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Corn Salsa And Raw Cranberry Apple Salsa

One year ago this month I started my blog and one of the recipes I featured in December was a festive cranberry corn salsa that I used to make mostly from canned goods. That's not such a bad thing, especially if you're short on time. But since I've learned so much in the past year about cooking with fresh ingredients, I thought I'd make the salsa from scratch. Also, with the recent news about BPA in some canned goods (herehere, and here), I'll play it safe this season and use more fresh ingredients. I'd say, do the research and choose your method. The salsa tastes great either way.

I made the salsa two different ways. Above, left, is the salsa made with cooked local cranberries and organic corn and, on the right, it's made with raw local cranberries and local apples.

Fresh Cranberry Corn Salsa 

Basic cranberry sauce:
1 bag/3 cups cranberries (can be frozen)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

The rest:
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, if you are not fond of cilantro, substitute with fresh parsley
1 Anaheim pepper, or 1/2-3/4 cup, diced
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 cup corn, preferably from frozen bag
About 1 tablespoon honey or sugar, if needed to reduce tartness

Boil cranberries in medium sauce pan in water and sugar for about 5-7 minutes (use these portions or make the basic cranberry sauce recipe you like or the one on the bag). Let cool. Trim and chop cilantro, pepper, red onion and add to cooled cranberry sauce. Add corn. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Taste. Add honey or sugar to taste. Done! Makes about 3 cups.

* * *

For this version, I started with a basic cranberry sauce using one bag (3 cups) of cranberries, one half cup sugar, and one cup water. All ingredients were brought to a boil in a sauce pan and cooked until all the cranberries stopped popping, a sound I love to hear, plus a few minutes longer, about 5-7 minutes total cooking time.  (If you have a basic cranberry sauce recipe that you like, or the bag of cranberries has a sauce recipe, that can be used instead.)

The mixture should be thick but a little loose, a little looser than whole berry cranberry sauce you'd find in a can. It will thicken more when cool but shouldn't get firm like jellied cranberry sauce. If it does, just reheat and blend in some water. If it seems too watery for salsa, just drain it a bit (pour sauce in a strainer or colander over sink).

The heat you want in the salsa is up to you. I chose mild heat from an Anaheim pepper, which is the first pepper on the left below. The middle pepper is a Cubanelle and is mild with no heat and would be a good substitute if Anaheims aren't available. The dark green pepper on the right is a Poblano with stronger heat and usually needs to be roasted to reduce the heat.

I sliced open the pepper, scrapped out the seeds and membranes, sliced into strips, then diced them.

Next, I diced one quarter of a medium red onion.

Total amount of Anaheim pepper and red onion is about 1/2-3/4 cup pepper (or one Anaheim) and about 1/3 cup red onion. And total amount of chopped fresh cilantro is about 1/4 cup.

Mix it all into the cranberry sauce along with one cup of corn. I used frozen organic corn, again to avoid cans (does not need to be thawed).

I let the salsa sit for about 30 minutes to build flavor. After tasting, I thought it was a little tart so I added one tablespoon of honey to adjust the flavor (sugar can be substituted). Please buy local honey or know your source - there have been reports of possible tainted honey.

Fresh and delicious!

Fresh Raw Cranberry Apple Salsa 

1 bag cranberries (can be frozen)
Coarsely chop:
     1 lemon, peeled
     1 orange, peeled (or omit lemon and use 2 oranges)
     1 Anaheim pepper or about 1/2-3/4 cup
     1/4 medium red onion or 1/4 cup
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or fresh parsley if not fond of cilantro
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 diced apple, I used Granny Smith
Honey or sugar as needed to reduce any tartness

Wash, peel, and coarsely chop lemon and orange. Peel and coarsely chop red onion, trim and coarsely chop pepper, chop cilantro (like above photos). Add to a food processor along with sugar and honey. Pulse a few times until desired coarseness for a salsa. I over did it a little but it still tasted great. Add diced apple last to finish. Due to the acid, the apple will not brown (even if using only oranges, which I will try next time, the cranberry will keep it from browning). Let sit about 30 minutes. Taste and add honey if needed to adjust tartness. If it seems too watery, drain a little in a colander or strainer over the sink. Done! Makes about 4 cups.

* * *

* * *

Both salsas can be served with organic corn chips (I like Garden of Eatin organic blue corn, GMO and sodium free), or used as a condiment on sandwiches, or as a side to chicken, turkey, pork, or ham dinners.

* * *

Another option for the Cranberry Corn Salsa: the Anaheim peppers can be roasted, see below, like I did to make the salsa with leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. This will make them taste sweeter but also more work! It also requires more peppers to make the salsa. Either way, the salsa ends up tasting the same. If you want to roast the peppers, I used four Anaheim peppers for that recipe.

Note: if there are more than 3 cups of cranberries in the bag, let's say close to 4 cups, it's okay. Probably the amount of water/sugar will need to be slightly adjusted (basic recipe for that amount might even be on the bag). Everything else will stay the same and the salsa will taste great. With fresh ingredients like this, anything can be adjusted for your taste.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Good Food and Friends!

Food brings people together. We all know that. But it wasn't long ago that because of food I went on an extraordinary adventure where I met a wonderful person.

We met through the web world shortly after we started our food blogs. Through the comments we'd leave, we felt a connection. We started cautiously learning more about each other through emails. After some time, we exchanged phone numbers but neither of us called right away. It took a few days. Then it happened. During that first phone call, we were so excited and we couldn't stop talking! We often talked about meeting some day. Then, before long, we made actual plans to meet in person. Putting my fear of flying aside, I flew to Texas with my daughter and we all just had the best time!

We meet!

Then I met Linda's girls.

Fresh honey was always around.

The rest of my visit, I couldn't stop photographing the beautiful scenery.

We went shopping and
I bought cowgirl boots for my daughter and me.

And we were ready for the Mesquite Rodeo, our first.

Which put me in the mood to buy this new cookbook.

We ate well.

Enjoyed fresh peaches from Ham's Orchard.

Enjoyed shopping at a local market.

Snacked on Linda's delicious fresh black eye pea salsa,
and her refreshing Girly Gazpacho.

Delicious also was my first smokey Texas barbecue.

My first chicken fried steak was a treat . . .

. . . at the All Good Cafe . . .

. . . with colorful origami birds fluttering about the ceiling.

A great way to end my visit.

Yes, it was all good and still is.

I hope you visit Linda at The Orange Bee soon. She has a beautiful blog with great food, photos, and fascinating information about raising bees.