Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kitchen Code

It seems that the best recipes are always the ones we never write down. A dash here, a pinch there or until it tastes right are all common enough measurements in my family. I was recently assigned the task of transcribing a few of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Loose recipes torn from our favorite magazines, and more commonly ones written on scratch paper, fill the green file folder that holds all of our classic sides, sweets and stuffings.Most of the recipes were easy enough to decipher, but the real challenge came from my mother's cranberry sauce. It reads, ''Skin Dice Pears, 3/4 cups, sugar over pears, put enough water, add clove, allspice and squeeze lemon''. Not entirely cryptic, but certainly troublesome enough to cause confusion. After a quick tutorial from the riddle master herself, I managed to get everything down on paper and most importantly into the pot and on the stove.

Cranberry Sauce with Pears


4 pears, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Pinch of ground clove
Pinch of allspice
1 bag of fresh cranberries (cooked according to package instructions)


Place pears and the next 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Add enough water so that the pears are just covered. Cook the pears over low heat until they have softened slightly and remove from the heat. In a large stockpot, cook the cranberries according to package instructions. Allow the sauce to cool slightly and while the sauce is still warm add the pears to the cranberries using a slotted spoon. Thin the cranberry sauce with a couple tablespoons of the pear liquid until it reaches your desired consistency. You do not need to use all of the liquid, just enough so that the sauce is slightly thinned. Taste the cranberry sauce and adjust the seasonings as necessary. You may need to add more sugar and/or lemon juice to balance the flavors. At this point, I begin by adding sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and a teaspoon of lemon juice (if necessary), tasting after each addition. As the sauce becomes less tart, I add sugar in teaspoon increments, until it is just right, again tasting after each addition.

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