Monday, November 29, 2010

Cranberry Salsa, Hickory Farms, Tag, Tiny Tim, whew...

My friend Brian is a congenial soul. He can come to Thanksgiving and discuss family with my mother, theatre with me as well as dogs, travel and food with everyone else. Plus, he's well-brought up and always brings something. If you're lucky he brings this cranberry salsa - mixed with apples, a pickled jalapeno, red peppers and stirred into a sweet-tart-touch-of-heat, addictive salsa that I spoon-feed myslef when only the dog and cat are looking.

After dinner - out came the pumpkin-mascarpone pie in its rustic pumpkin pie dish, out came my mother's sumptuous trifle in the sparkling glass bowl and out came the cannoli cream in the crystal. And then out came the cannoli shells in ... their... box. Which brought a retort from Brian, "You're putting cardboard on the table?" I forgave him. Because:

a. it was Thanksgiving Day

b. out of our years of friendship and working together on shows and most importantly -

c. the salsa.

Yes, it's the offending cannoli box.

But below is Brian's calling card- the jewelled-apple-lovin' salsa. A holiday on a tortilla chip.

Cranberry salsa has a lot going for it - especially for the holiday season. The salsa is low-fat and the ruby-red cranberries sparkle the colors of the season. Use it as a dip for tortilla chips or toasted pita bread. Add it to turkey sandwiches (with Brie!) or to top a sliced rotisserie chicken.

Cranberry Salsa Ingredients

12 oz fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 med red onion
1 granny smith apple - peeled and cored and cut into 1/8's
2 tbl pickled jalapano - chopped
2 tsp lime zest
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple juice
2 tbls cilantro chopped

Cranberry Salsa Preparation
1. Chop cranberries, red pepper, onion and apple separately in a food processor. (You can also chop all by hand.) You want small pieces - do not pulverize them.
2. Chop the jalapeno and cilantro by hand.
3. In a large bowl combine chopped cranberries, red pepper, onion, apple and jalapeno and stir.
4. Add lime zest and sugar and stir to coat all. Add apple juice and stir. Top with cilantro and toss till combined.
5. Let sit 3-4 hours to allow the flavors to combine. Can do ahead - the salsa keeps for days in an airtight covered container in the refrigerator.

This is a salsa recipe that begs to played with. If you want it more tart, reduce the sugar. Add sweetness with a honey crisp apple instead of the granny smith. Or add two apples. Throw the entire bell pepper into the salsa. If you like more heat in your salsa, add another pickled jalapeno - or two. Or eliminate it. The variety of flavors dance on your tongue so adapt the cranberry salsa to your palate.
And to add to my holiday pleasure, because I am part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker's Program, I received an extraordinary holiday package from Hickory Farms.
Sausages, cheeses and mustards which go right to my savory heart.

I am hosting Christmas Eve for my husband's side of the family - for about 40 people give or take ten people.

This beauty will see serious use. I will have fun providing an assortment of breads, crackers, olives and vegetables to complement this generous gift. Come back Christmas Eve - it will be quite a spread. Or drop by, there will be so many people, what does it matter if a few more arrive on the doorstep?

I have frequently used Hickory Farms gift packages as presents. Check out their website to see the variety of their Holiday Gift baskets - there's a size and price to fit all tastes. I do thank them for generously adding to my Christmas Eve Feast.

And - I have been tagged by Sophie of Sophie Foodiefiles. Sophie's website is filled with her original, healthy recipes that enchant the eye and satisfy the stomach. Please visit her when you have time. You will be enticed by her recipes.

I am not good at being tagged. I don't have favorites - for anything. I have moods and the moods dictate my cravings. And they're very much in the moment.

1. What is your most memorable meal that you ate in your life & why?

One stand-out was a dinner in Hawaii - on my honeymoon - where we had lobster just flown in from Maine. I know.

2. Why did you started blogging?

To provide a record for my family - of recipes - and family lore. But the unexpected happened and the connections made in blogosphere have enriched me and kept me blogging even when I am on deadline (oh - like today!).

3. What is your favourite restaurant, where & why?

No favorites - and as any Italian will tell you - the best restaurant is at home.

4. Which are your 3 most favourite chefs in the whole world and why?

No favorites - take a look at my blog list and the blogs I follow and that's where I find new recipes!

5. What is your favourite recipe on your own blog and why?

Hmmmm, that favorite thing again. I'm fond of my mussels and carbonara and the deeply rich butter chocolate cake Kirsten made me for my birthday. Each recipe brings a reminder of past meals, past celebrations and the promise of gracing my table again and getting me even chunkier.

6. To which music do you listen to when you cook and bake & why?

Rock 'n roll. Energizing!

7. What is the strangest food that you have ever eaten and did you like it or not?

Confession: I don't do strange foods.

8. What is your most lovely food destination in the world & why?

Italy. France does not lag far behind - but Italy. To sample what does not make it into the USA. To enjoy food that never travelled on trucks. Plus they have gondolas, the Mediterranean and wild boars.

9. What is your most favourite food shop in the world & why?

Farmer's Markets. You get to schmooze with farmers, find new vegetables and they will tell you their secret way of cooking them. Now, that's a good time!

10. Which kitchen gadget do you love the most & why?

Not a huge gadget person. Although one can really have fun with an olive pitter!

I have more catching up to do with you but as stated - I am on deadline (December 1st), so let me mention the ending of my Thanksgiving holiday. I have worked with this young boy in three shows. He's all of 8 years old and has an intuitive talent that shines and a kindness of being that glows. And he is Tiny Tim in The Guthrie Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol.
On Sunday, the theatre darkened, the lights came on center stage and there was Noah - all by himself opening the show with this lyrical, haunting rendition of "Coventry Carol." Heady stuff for an eight-year-old. I teared over and I just knew -

- having Noah end my weekend with his simple and pure "God bless us, everyone" was the perfect ending to a holiday weekend that started with salsa.


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Claudia your posts are always so full of wonderful things! The apple cranberry salsa looks so tasty and perfect for this time of the year.
I would have forgiven you for the cardboard box on the table once I saw the cannolis inside it!

Lucky you to get such a nice gift from Hickery Farms! I like their products, especially their cheddar cheese.

Noah sounds so talented! His face is glowing like a real Tiny Tim's in this photo. I've always loved The Christmas Carol. I just bought a pop up book version of it to add to my collection of holiday pop up books.,,yes, I'm a child at heart! :)

Magic of Spice said...

Noah sounds like such a pleasure and a talented young man...I so love the work you do with these children...I will stop by the link :)
Lovely salsa recipe, and I hope you had a perfect Holiday :)
P.S. Great tag answers...

Unknown said...

That cranberry salsa is such a great non-traditional switch from the holiday cranberry norm. I love salsas of all kinds, and this one is perfect for the winter time.

Jeannie said...

The salsa looks very delicious, can imagine the taste with those chips, yum! Love reading a bit more about you too:D

3 hungry tummies said...

Fabulous looking salsa and all those goodies!

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

Great gift and you always seem to turn things into a banquet! I just love that salsa fantastic idea...I still have a ton of cranberries left, got this bookmarked to try! Amazing color too....don't you just love the Hickory farm cheeses, I am so wishing for it, they are outside in my mall this year looks like I will have to take a trip out there today, great post Claudia love how festive it is put me in the mood all over again!

Barbara GF said...

What a full house and heart you have, Claudia. I love that you are prepping for a Christmas Eve of 40, give or take 10. Bless you. My mother always cooked enough for a small army, just in case someone unexpected would drop in.

I love this time of year. That cranberry salsa is one to add to my "must make" list. What a perfect combination of ingredients and a brilliant color.

And I love the photo of Noah in the spotlight. Indeed, a perfect note on which to end the weekend.

Anne said...

I enjoy coming to your post. I have tried lots of your recipes for my husband and also guests. I always get rav reviews! Another one I must try is the salsa.
Have a good day! Smiles to you.

Anonymous said...

How creative! Cranberry salsa just sounds fantastic!

Angie's Recipes said...

Cranberry salsa looks and sounds awesome!

Dimah said...

This looks wonderful and easy!

Torviewtoronto said...

delicious salsa love the addition of cranberries innovative dish

Unknown said...

Loved the comment about going to Italy to taste the foods that don't make it here. Perfect.

chow and chatter said...

thanks for joining the discussion on my blog, love your answers and coo salsa

Becky said...

I love cranberries and I love salsas, but this is a seasonal beauty. I will be making this one. It is so eye appealing, too.

Biz said...

What a beautiful post! Glad you had such a nice Thanksgiving. And sans the onions, I am all over that salsa!

Proud Italian Cook said...

You've tempted me with this salsa, so perfect for the holidays. Did I tell you your cranberry sauce was the bomb, a very big hit here on turkey day, we've been eating the leftovers with chicken and pork since, and it's still great! Noah has the perfect face he looks like a natural. Speaking of natural, you have such a way with words Claudia, are you writing a novel? You should!!

Reeni said...

The salsa sounds dreamy AND addicting with all the sweet, savory and tart flavors! You can put those cannoli shells on my table - I take them anyway I can get them - there's nothing wrong with buying them premade - cannoli shell making is time-consuming! Hickory Farms - I haven't eaten their stuff in years, it used to be tradition.

FOODESSA said...

It seems like thankfulness and satisfaction has been blessing you this past week. Great, unique friends, package goodies from blogging and fabulous people to work with...especially the adorably talented young boy.

Claudia...I get the feeling you've been slightly overwhelmed lately. Just make sure to squeeze in a 'Me' day once and a while...especially with the crazy holidays having just begun ;o)

Thanks for that tasty salsa with out little cherished red gem ;)

Flavourful wishes,m

Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog said...

What a marvelous cranberry salsa delicious color and the package from Hickory Farms!

Both are notable and compelling too :)



Kim said...

I don't know where to start. First of all, Noah is precious and it must be a pleasure to work with him. The cranberry salsa looks good enough to drink. I love the jewel-like colors. Loved reading through your answers for the tag and wish I could join you in sharing the Hickory Farms box on Christmas Eve. Enjoy!

Lori Lynn said...

Cute post. I like Brian.
And his salsa sounds awesome.

gaga said...

What an interesting salsa. I bet it's fantastic!

Monet said...

Noah is indeed precious. The salsa sounds just delicious...what a great idea your sweet friend had! And I loved learning a bit more about you. What a great post! Thank you so much for sharing with me. Happy Hump Day!

Anonymous said...

The salsa sounds fantastic, so refreshing and I love the jalapeno in it! Great goodies from Hickory farms! And Noah is adorable!

test it comm said...

A cranberry salsa sounds really good!