January 11, 2011

Not Just for Thanksgiving, Part 3: Orange-Ginger Cranberry Sauce + Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls

When we recently cooked up a turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and sweet potatoes, we rounded out the meal with a couple other things.  One of them was cranberry sauce.

I've previously raved about the Gingered Cranberry Sauce recipe featured awhile back at one of our favorite blogs, Closet Cooking.  We've made that a couple times now, and loved it each time.  I planned to make it again to go with our most recent turkey feast, but at the last moment I realized I didn't have any fresh ginger root on hand, which is a rarity for us.  Since I'd have to fall back on ground ginger, I figured I might as well change up some other things and see how they worked out.  As happens, the recipe worked out pretty well.  The ginger flavor isn't as bold as in Kevin's recipe, but this results in a good balance between the ginger and orange flavors, with neither overwhelming the taste of the cranberries.

This recipe is something of an oddity for us in that instead of using sugar, I used Splenda.  I'm not a big fan of the various "healthy" alternatives to standard cooking staples like butter, eggs or, especially, sugar.   Having talked to dietitians and biochemists about the matter, I'm not convinced they're really healthier in the long run, as any benefits they might have in terms of reduced cholesterol or blood sugar are probably countered by the effects they have on appetite (fake sugars like Splenda trick your body into thinking it's getting a carb, and when that doesn't happen, your craving for sweets tends to increase), digestion and other systems.   Beyond that, many of the "healthy" alternatives taste pretty awful.   Regardless of possible risks (I'm not convinced either way, personally) stevia just doesn't cut it as a sugar substitute, in my opinion, and I've not yet found any situation in which margarine ends up being anything but a really pale (and dreadful-tasting, more often than not) substitute for butter.   I think you are better off eating a balanced diet, exercising reasonable portion control and using quality ingredients than you are going with synthetic foods and the health craze of the moment.

As for Splenda, a lot of the time you can taste the difference, and it is pretty much worthless for baking (it doesn't react to yeast, it doesn't brown, it doesn't really caramelize) and completely worthless for canning, so I mostly avoid it.  In my experience, it works well mostly in foods with a prominent sour element, such as yogurt.  Similarly, it works okay with cranberries, probably because the tartness masks any off flavor, and since I had some around, I decided to use it to make this batch of cranberry sauce.  You'll get results just as good with regular granulated sugar, though.

Orange-Ginger Cranberry Sauce

2       cups fresh cranberries
1       cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (or granulated sugar)
3/4    cup water
1/4    cup orange juice
2       teaspoons orange zest
1       teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-low heat.  As berries start to burst with the heat, press them against the side of the pan to smash them and help the fruit break down into a sauce.  When most of the berries have been smashed or burst, remove from heat.  Allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a serving bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap until you're ready to serve.

I also made up a batch of Classic Cloverleaf Rolls, using a recipe from the October/November 2010 issue of Cook's Country.  These simple, classic dinner rolls are pretty easy to make, and while they take a little time to prepare (two periods of rising), you can do something else during most of that time, and the time and effort are more than worth the results.  These rolls bake up crisp on the outside, light and buttery on the inside and just plain tasty.   They went along great with the rest of the meal.

Classic Cloverleaf Rolls, Cranberry-Apple Stuffing, Turkey
Roasted in a Bag, Orange-Ginger Cranberry Sauce, Mashed
Potatoes and Turkey Gravy. 
Not Pictured: Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Pecans

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