Category Archives: Recipes

Apple Corn Muffins

You know me—always picking up some odd thing or another in the plethora of ethnic markets throughout New York City.IMG_2510

This time, it was canned apples in sugar syrup from my favorite Indian market in Jackson Heights, Queens. Normally, I don’t buy canned fruit, much less anything in sugar syrup. But it just caught my attention on the shelf and I was curious about what they tasted like and what their appeal was. So, I bought a can.

Okay, now I know that it states right there on the can that they’re packed in sugar syrup. But I was not prepared for the cloying sweetness that almost put me into a diabetic coma. Yowza.

So, this is what I did. I drained the apples from the syrup and threw together a quick cornbread mix and made muffins. I found that the cornbread balanced out some of that sweetness. Keep the syrup for another recipe (for example, poke holes in a cake and pour the syrup over the top, or strain it and use it for a cocktail).IMG_2512

Here’s my recipe. It’s really easy and quick and a great way to use those canned apples that everyone has lying around. I mean, don’t you have them in your pantry?

Do not add sugar to the cornbread mix—it will make the muffins over-the-top sweet. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!IMG_2522

Apple Corn Muffins

1 cup fine cornmeal
¼ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt ¼ cup milk
1 egg
1 container apples in syrup, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 6-cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk together.

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Add milk and egg and whisk in. Fold in apples just until all apples incorporated.

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Divide batter into cups of muffin tin.

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Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes; turn out onto wire rack.

Makes 6 muffins.IMG_2523

 

 

 

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Filed under Baking, Breakfast, Cakes, Experiments, New-to-me Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Warm Black-eyed Pea-Spinach Wheat Berry Salad

It’s been a kooky few months for me. I’ve been really busy cooking and photographing my food for volume two of my revised cookbook, now called Vegetarian Italian: Traditions. The Kindle version of volume one is currently on Amazon, and I’m waiting VegItalCover FINAL_Page_1for the print version to be available.

The thing is, all other cooking has been put on the back burner (no pun intended). I’ve even put off photographing dishes for my next cookbook, just to get volume two of Vegetarian Italian done.

Well, I’m almost there. I actually have one dish left to photograph, and this weekend, I found myself able to cook a little for the fun of it—something I haven’t done in a very long time.

I had some cooked wheatberries in the freezer, left over from a batch I had made a couple of months ago, as well as some black-eyed peas, and decided to use them.

A wheat berry is the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull)–meaning, it has its bran, germ, and endosperm intact. That makes them healthy whole grains. There are several varieties: winter and spring, hard and soft, red and white. Soft wheat is considered to have higher protein and, thus, less gluten. So, if you have wheat sensitivities (as opposed to Celiac disease) and want to use wheat berries, you’re better off using soft wheat. 

In the end, I wanted to do something simple but tasty, and this is what I came up with. I hope you like it.IMG_2509

Warm Black-eyed Pea-Spinach Wheat Berry Salad

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced 3 cups cooked wheat berries
½ teaspoon paprika
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cups cooked, chopped spinach
1 ½ cups cooked black-eyed peas
1 cup peas
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon walnut oil

Heat the oil in a wide pan; add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about one minute.

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Sprinkle in the paprika, then immediately add the tomatoes. Stir and sauté 2 or 3 minutes.

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Stir in the spinach, black-eyed peas, and peas and sauté another 3 minutes.

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Add the wheat berries and peas, mix and continue cooking until heated through. Season with salt and pepper; adjust to your taste.

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Transfer to a serving bowl; drizzle walnut oil over the top.

Makes 6 servings.IMG_2507

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Filed under Healthy Alternatives, Healthy eating, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Gorgeously Green Pasta Salad

So, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and green is the official black for that holiday. The foodIMG_0445 world, too, suddenly turns green. We see  green bagels, green cake, and even green beer. But if all of that turns you green, here’s a recipe that keeps that particular tradition going but is a lot better for you and is gorgeously green naturally.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and may the Luck o’ the Irish be with you!

Gorgeously Green Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is open to many variations—you can add anything you want, as long as it’s green! It has several components to it, but if you’re willing to spend a little time on it, the result will truly be gorgeous, not to mention delicious. Aside from the broccoli florets, I split the string beans in half, used only the green part of the zucchini, and garnished it with zucchini curls.

1 medium head broccoli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more
2 small zucchini, diced small
2 ½ cups cut string beans
2 cups peas (if frozen, thawed)
1 lb short pasta
½ lb arugula
¼ lb watercress
1 cup sliced scallions (white part only), divided
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium green bell pepper, diced small
½ cup chopped parsley

Garnish: zucchini, scallion greens, broccoli florets

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1. Cut the broccoli into florets. Set aside as many “pretty” florets (they should be similarly sized). Chop the remaining florets, stems, and pieces. Blanch and shock the florets. Cook the remaining broccoli until crisp-tender; drain well.

To blanch and shock: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Set a bowl of ice water on the counter. Add the broccoli florets to the boiling water and cook for a minute or 2, until broccoli is slightly tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

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2. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a medium skillet; add the onion and salt, and sweat (cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Do not brown.)

3. Zucchini: Saute in 2 teaspoons just until tender. Transfer to a bowl; let cool.

4. String beans: Bring pot of salted water to a boil; add string beans and cook just until tender. Transfer to the ice water and let cool. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside ½ cup.

5. Peas: If fresh, cook in boiling water until just tender. If frozen, boil briefly. Drain well.

6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well and let cool.

7. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a food processor or blender, combine the arugula, watercress, ½ cup string beans that were set aside, ½ cup scallions, garlic, salt and pepper. With the machine processing, slowly add the extra-virgin olive oil until a sauce forms.

8. When pasta has cooled but is still slightly warm, add the sauce and mix well. Add the green pepper, the chopped broccoli, onion, cooked zucchini, peas, remaining string beans, and remaining scallions. Mix well. Blend in parsley. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add whatever herbs or spices you like.

IMG_0436Makes 14 servings.

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Filed under Holidays, Pasta, Recipes, Traditions, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Chocolate Cake with Avocado Mousse

This week, I wanted to offer my recipe for Chocolate Cake with Avocado Mousse. It received raves when I made it and I’m finally getting around to posting it.

The first ingredients is a chocolate sheet cake. You can certainly make it from scratch, but if you’re pressed for time, you can go and buy one from the store.

Rich chocolate cake paired with a zesty avocado mousse makes a luscious sweet-tart flavor combo. The white chocolate chips give it a gratifying chewy element without competing with the cake. Besides, with antioxidants in chocolate and omega-3 fatty acids in avocado, who can argue that this is a decadent dessert with health benefits? And it’s vegan!

Chocolate Cake with Avocado Mousse

1 chocolate sheet cake (9×13”)
2 Haas avocados
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon citrus zest (orange, lemon, lime or a combo)
1 teaspoon maple crystals
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

1. Trim off about 1 inch from each end of the cake. Split the cake in half, lift off the top half, and set aside.

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2. Combine avocados, lime juice, vanilla, honey, citrus zest, and maple crystals in a food processor and process until completely smooth. (Stop the machine and push down the mixture with a rubber spatula, if necessary.)

3. Spread the avocado mixture evenly over the bottom half of the cake. Sprinkle the chips evenly over the avocado. Replace the top half of the cake.

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4. Cut into 12 squares, or use a 2 1/2-inch ring mold to cut out circles. Serve as is or sprinkle powdered sugar over the top.

Makes 12.

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Filed under Baking, Cakes, Desserts, Healthy Alternatives, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan

Limoncello Sunrise

This was a particularly difficult month and week for me, so I decided that this week’s recipe should be a cocktail. I had quite a few cocktails and glasses of wine this month to get me through, but this one turned out nicer than I had expected. I used homemade limoncello, but any brand that you get from the store will do.

It’s a bit on the sweet side, so give it a taste. If you want to tone down the sweetness, add a little less o.j. and/or a bit more rum. It’s called “sunrise” because it looks like one of those types of drinks that are reminiscent of…well, sunrises. Little umbrella optional. :- ) Enjoy!Limoncello Sunrise

Limoncello Sunrise

1 ounce limoncello
1 ounce rum
4 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice (~2 juicing oranges)
1 tablespoon grenadine or strawberry syrup
1 orange slice
¼ cup crushed ice or 1 or 2 cubes

Place ice in a tall glass. Add the limoncello, rum, and orange juice and mix. Pour in the grenadine or syrup and let it settle at the bottom. Garnish the glass with the orange.

Makes 1 cocktail.

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Filed under Alcohol, Beverages, Recipes, Uncategorized

Mixed Dal Soup

I picked up some mixed dal at an Indian store in Jackson Heights and since the weather was DSCF0007about to take a turn for the worse, I decided to make mixed dal soup. Mixed dal is a mixture of different split lentils and they make delicious meals. They’re also packed with protein, and with a few greens thrown in, you’ve got a complete, filling, satisfying meal. Toasting the caraway seeds gives the soup a great, complex flavor. And it was just right on a rainy, dreary day. So here’s my version of mixed dal soup.

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2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced small
1 medium carrot, diced small
1 celery rib, finely chopped
¼ lb. sweet potato, diced small
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup mixed dal
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted (optional)
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon garlic salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ lb. bok choy (green tops only), chopped

1. Heat the oil in a medium-large pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, sweet potato, and kosher salt and sauté 5 minutes, or until vegetables have softened and onions are translucent.

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2. Add the dal, caraway seeds, fennel, garlic salt, pepper, and 4 cups water; mix well. Bring to a boil; lower the heat and cook, partially covered, until the dal are completely soft and disintegrating, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Stir occasionally.

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3. Add the bok choy and continue cooking a few more minutes until the greens have softened.

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4. Taste the soup for seasoning; adjust as desired. Serve hot.

Makes about 6 servings.

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Filed under Ethnic Dishes, Healthy eating, Recipes, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

New Year’s Dish for Luck: Black-Eyed Peas & Quinoa

This is my last post of 2013. It was a head-spinning year for me, and my calendar looks like one big ink blot from all the markings. I attended and participated in many culinary events, including “An Evening with Dorie Greenspan” and “An Evening with Mollie Katzen and Sara Moulton,” thanks to the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance (NYWCA). Rick Bayless Mollie Katzen-Sara Moulten IMAG0436I had the pleasure of cooking something out of their cookbooks for everyone to enjoy at the events.

I volunteered at the Food Network Food & Wine Festival, where I had the honor of working with Rick Bayless at  Bobby Flay’s “Tacos & Tequila” event. For Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, I was on a panel about media skills for chefs. I also attended FoodBlogSouth in Birmingham in January, went on a tour of Jacques Torres’ chocolate factory in Manhattan with Jacques himself, and attended many other fun events throughout the year.

Also this year, I took on the role of copyeditor for the NYWCA member newsletter, and I am involved with the NYWCA’s fundraising raffle taking place on February 3, “An Evening with Mollie O’Neill.” Proceeds of the raffle will go to GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Service) for young women 12–24 who have experienced sexual exploitation and abuse; Spoons Across America; WISCAH—Chef Training Program; and FamilyCook Productions—Teen Battle Chef Program. Prizes include: $1,000 OXO Gift Certificate; Wine-Pairing Dinner & Hotel for Two ($600 value); Cuisinart Elite Collection Package ($600 value); and Dinner for 8 at Murray’s Cheese Bar ($500 value). If you’re interested in attending the event and/or purchasing raffle tickets, just contact me via the form below and I’ll hook you up.

Now, onto food.

Around the world, different people have their own traditions and rituals for ringing in the New Year. And food always plays a part.

For example, in Japan, it is customary to eat soba noodles during the New Year’s celebration to ensure a long life. In many Latin American countries, as well as Spain, 12 grapes are eaten—1 for each month—and it is hoped that the grapes are sweet as a harbinger of a sweet year ahead. In many countries, legumes are popular for New Year’s because they swell when cooked, symbolizing increased financial prosperity. Lentils, particularly, are used in Italy and Brazil.

In the United States, black-eyed peas are popular (the musical group and the legume) and Hoppin’ John is a staple New Year’s dish in the South. I made my own black-eyed peas dishred quinoa salad 2 incorporating the healthy grain quinoa. And to make it more festive, I used red quinoa. So, here’s the recipe for my New Year’s Red Quinoa and Black-Eyed Peas Salad. Enjoy.

Happy New Year, everyone! Have a fun, safe time, and may 2014 bring you joy and happiness.

New Year’s Red Quinoa and Black-Eyed Peas Salad

1 1/2 cups red or white quinoa, rinsed
2 3/4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas
1 1/2 cups chopped bell peppers, mixed colors
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Haas avocado, cut into small dice
1/4 finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp flavored mustard
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the quinoa in the vegetable stock until liquid has been absorbed and grains are tender. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

2. When quinoa has cooled, add remaining ingredients (except dressing).

3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix well and adjust seasoning as desired. If it’s dry, add more oil a little at a time and mix well.

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Filed under Events, Healthy eating, Holidays, Recipes, Traditions, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Persimmon Tea Cake

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It’s the season for persimmons! This is the time of year when persimmon lovers rejoice because persimmons are a sumptuous fruit, sweet and soft (or crunchy, depending on which you get).

Persimmons are a rather expensive fruit, so when I get my hands on some, I usually just eat them as fruit. However, recently a co-worker brought in a huge bag of persimmons from her own tree (how I wish I had one!). So, with that opportunity, I decided to try baking something with them.

So here now is my Persimmon Tea Cake. This is a dense but moist loaf that doesn’t IMG_1838need any embellishment. It’s great for an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or tea.

Make sure that you use the larger Hachiya persimmons and not the smaller Fuyu. Fuyu are delicious to eat out of hand, but it remains somewhat hard and the pulp isn’t as soft and creamy when pureed. You can puree a bunch of persimmons and keep it tightly sealed in the freezer until you need it.

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Fully ripe persimmons

And while Fuyus can be eaten hard, Hachiyas most certainly cannot. Hachiyas are ready to be eaten when they are extremely soft and look like they’re on the verge of rotting. No, really. Hachiyas are astringent and if you eat them before they’re ready, I guarantee you that you will regret it and remember it as long as you live. Every drop of moisture in your mouth will dry up. I jokingly tell people that an unripe persimmon will dry up their whole head. Believe me, it will feel that way.

But once they’re soft and ready, their flavor and sweetness are sublime. Unfortunately, their flavor is also delicate and won’t come out strongly in cake. Rather, the cake will have an unusual, undefinable flavor, but absolutely pleasing. I’m working on a gluten-free version, so one of these days, I’ll post that recipe.

In the meantime, enjoy this one.

Persimmon Tea Cake

Makes 1 loaf.

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, preferably organic
2 large eggs
1 cup persimmon pulp (from about 3 medium-large persimmons)

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan, or line it with parchment paper (I like to do both for easy removal).

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In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Using an electric mixer or food processor, puree pulp until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in buttermilk and zests.

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With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add one egg and beat it in, then add the other one and beat it in.

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Mix in the persimmon pulp. Add the flour mixture in a little at a time and mix just until blended.

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Transfer to loaf pan and bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan and let cool completely.

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Filed under Baking, Cakes, Fruit, Recipes, seasonal cooking, Uncategorized

15 Things to Do With Leftover Stuffing

Well, now that another Thanksgiving has come and gone, many of us are left with the stuffingserious question of what to do with all those leftovers, especially the stuffing (or dressing, depending on where you are). Personally, I just eat it the way it is for days. But others want to use their leftovers in different and creative ways. So, here are some ideas for using up all that delicious stuffing in your fridge.

These ideas will work with any kind of bread or cornbread stuffing. Other kinds of stuffing (such as those based on rice or other grains) may or may not work, depending on the recipe and what you add to it.

I’d love to hear from you and find out what you made with your leftovers this year.

15 Things to Do With Leftover Stuffing

  1. Stuffed Peppers (Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and membranes, and press the stuffing into the cavities. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until peppers have softened.)
  2. Frittata (Beat 6 eggs and stir in about a cup of stuffing. Cook in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat until underside has browned. Flip over or place in a 350 degree oven until other side has browned.)
  3. Turkey casserole (Replace the rice or bread in your favorite turkey casserole recipe with stuffing.)
  4. Dumplings for soup, stew, or chili (Mix 1 beaten egg into 4 cups stuffing and roll into balls. If too loose, add breadcrumbs. Drop into soup, stew, or chili and let cook.)
  5. Vegetable pie (Using the stuffing as the bottom layer where mashed potatoes would be used.)
  6. Stuffing cakes (Flatten stuffing into a patties and pan fry; serve with leftover cranberry sauce or gravy.)
  7. Turkey sandwich with stuffing (Self-explanatory.)
  8. Stuffed artichokes (Trim artichokes. Press stuffing between the leaves. Place in a baking pan with a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom and cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees until tender.)
  9. Stuffed chicken breasts. (Flatten chicken breasts with a mallet. Place a tablespoon or two of stuffing and roll up the chicken. Pan fry or bake until cooked through.)
  10. Vegetable calzone (Make your favorite calzone recipe and just mix some stuffing into the vegetables.)
  11. Vegetarian meatballs (Add 1 beaten egg to 4 cups stuffing. Add grated tempeh or crumbled tofu and, if you like, some grated cheese. Pan fry or bake at 350 degrees until browned.)
  12. Rice balls (Add stuffing to any kind of rice–this is a good way to also use leftover rice–and roll into balls. Dip in beaten eggs and roll in breadcrumbs. Pan fry or baked at 350 degrees until lightly browned and heated through.)
  13. Vegetable sauté (Make your favorite vegetable saute recipe and mix in some stuffing. Keep cooking until well blended and heated through.)
  14. Meatloaf or Veggie Meatloaf (Replace the breadcrumbs in your favorite meatloaf recipe with stuffing. If the stuffing is moist, reduce the amount of any liquid you use.)
  15. Veggie burgers (Mix stuffing into your prepared vegetables. Form patties and cook as you normally would.)

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Filed under Holidays, Recipes, seasonal cooking, Uncategorized, Utilitarian Cooking

Cranberry Sauce with a Sorghum Twist

cranberry enhancedWell, here we are again, preparing for that iconic American holiday, the Most Important Meal of the Year: Thanksgiving.

Every year, I make fresh cranberry sauce. Some people prefer the canned variety to freshly made, but when I see that gelled log with can rings around it, I can’t help but feel that I can do better. In fact, anyone can. Fresh cranberry sauce is extremely simple, and the end product is so much better than the canned log. (Although, I know some of you feel like it’s truly not a traditional Thanksgiving without that log with the rings around it, so I say, whatever floats your boat.)

Cranberries are a tart fruit and cranberry sauce requires plenty of sugar to make it palatable enough for most people. But I always cringe a little when I start dumping the amount of sugar that most recipes call for into my pot of cranberries. So, this year, I decided to try some of the sorghum molasses that I brought up from a trip to the South.

The recipe I’ve always used calls for 2 cups granulated sugar. That’s a lot of sugar. So, I started with 1 cup brown sugar. Brown sugar is a nicer product to use than granulated sugar because it lend the sauce a delicate molasses flavor and it thickens it up better. My sauce was still a little too tart, but I really didn’t want to add any more sugar, so I reached for the sorghum molasses. I started with 2 tablespoons and I liked the results. However, I knew that most people would want it sweeter (I don’t have a big sweet tooth), so I added 2 more tablespoons. It worked wonderfully.

Sorghum molasses is a Southern staple, but it can be found in specialty stores elsewhere in the U.S. If you can’t find it, substitute brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, or honey (the honey will be sweeter than the others).

If you’re looking for that cloying candy-sweet taste of canned cranberry sauce, this isn’t it. But if you want something that is a little more complex, texturally pleasing, and not as loaded with refined sugar, give this a try.

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Cranberry Sauce with a Sorghum Twist

Makes 3 cups

1 16-oz. package fresh cranberries
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
¼ cup sorghum molasses
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon nutmeg or ground cloves
1 whole star anise
Tiny pinch sea salt

Combine all ingredients with 1 ½ cups water in a 2-quart pot. Bring to a boil; lower the heat to low and simmer until cranberries start to pop. Continue simmering and stirring for about 5 minutes, smashing the cranberries along the sides of the pot (you can leave some whole). Taste and adjust sweetener level to your taste.

Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a jar or bowl and refrigerate until needed. Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise before serving or use them for garnish.

Variation: Add a tablespoon of raspberry or cherry liqueur or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.

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Filed under Condiments, Healthy Alternatives, Holidays, Recipes, salsas, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian