This is probably my favorite time of year, you know, that part which starts the week of Thanksgiving and ends midnight December 31st. I've always enjoyed all the activities and events which surrounds each holiday. Sadly, with the global pandemic still very much alive, many families won't be able to connect as before. We are always reminded of the precautions we should take when being in contact with love ones, especially high-risk individuals, the immune compromised and seniors. Although many of us have decided to shelter in place and will plan holiday dinners for our immediate families, we still want to experience a sense of togetherness with our extended family members during this time.
While I'm not a big fan of technology (as I sit here "clicking" and "clacking" away on my keyboard - lol), I am reminded of its blessing. This age of technology has provided us a simply way to connect with family and friends using various video chat platforms. For that, I am grateful.
Although you may not be planning to prepare a big feast as in prior years, you can still create fun dishes which your family will enjoy. Also, this is a great time to consider creating and delivering contactless meals for family and friends to enjoy. For instance, this year, I am making several vegan sweet potato pies. I'll be boxing them up and leaving them at the door of my brother and friends' homes.
This year, I decided to make a rich, creamy and slightly sweet dish for my Thanksgiving Eve virtual wine and cheese party. I've always enjoyed making fresh cranberry sauce for my holiday table, so I thought I'd add a twist to this recipe and make it something which would pair well with my Cashew Cheese recipe. The cranberry compote recipe requires a few ingredients which can be found at just about any conventional grocer.
Before we dive into the recipe, let's chat about cranberries and its health benefits.
Benefits of Cranberries:
Supporting Resource: Women's Health Magazine, Christine Bryne, July 12, 2018
Now...on to the recipe.
For many of the dishes I create, which are on the sweeter side, I try to find a way to incorporate fresh herbs and spices. In this case, I used fresh thyme sprigs to add a slight contrast to the tartness of the berries and add subtle grass notes which pairs well the wine we'll be using. Side note: be sure to wrap thyme in cheese close and add during the cooking process. You want to infuse the flavor of thyme without making the leaves and sprigs part of the finished product.
While I wanted to use blood oranges for this, I found they are not no easy to find and in many cases, not as sweet, if you do find them. So, I opted for navel oranges which add a bit brightness to the recipes and balances the flavors. Think: Madras Cocktail. For this recipe we'll only require 1 juices orange and grated orange peel.
Rather than creating this recipe with water, I wanted a full-bodied red wine for depth and flavor. In this case, I used a Cabernet Sauvignon, which has flavor notes of mint and jam. As a alternative, you may always use a port dessert which will not greatly affect the final dish, but will add more sweetness to the compote, if that's what you want to achieve.
.Next on the ingredient list is Cointreau. Other than bartenders, I find many people are still asleep on this beautiful citrus-flavored triple sec liqueur. Just adding a splash of liqueur to certain dishes add a subtle citrus note which balances the flavor of tart, sweet, and herbaceous desserts and compotes
Now here's where you can customize this recipe by choosing sweeteners best for you. If you are maintaining a low-sugar, you might want to consider using Stevia for this recipe. While there's not easy way to measure Stevia for recipes, my suggestion is the add it to the recipe a pinch at a time. To little and the tartness from the berries will overpower the recipe, too much could pretty much ruin it.
As alternative and my personal recommendation is to use Monkfruit Sweetner, which contains zero calories, zero glycemic, gluten-free, and in my humble opinion, responds to many recipes the same as conventional crystalized sugar.
Since this recipe includes a Cashew White Cheese recipe, it's important to prepare this recipe first. See Video Below. Once the cheese has been prepared, transfer to a clear wrapping sheet and form into a log or rectangle. Due to the soft, velvety texture of the cheese, you will need to place the log into the freezer for 45 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator for extended chilling. and better slicing.
Basic White Cashew Cheese (Recipe)
Now this beautiful dish is ready for assembly. Simply place the entire log of rectangle-shaped cheese onto a service platter. Spoon the cranberry compote on top of the cheese and garnish with leftover thyme or rosemary sprigs.
Now you're ready to serve! Use a cheese knife to place a dollop of this creamy, salt and sweet goodness on top of whole grain crackers, toast points, or gluten-free croissants. Enjoy!
CRANBERRY COMPOTE | Regina Dillard
In a medium pan add wine, orange juice, orange zest, liqueur, thyme bundle and sugar.
Allow the mixture to cook on medium high until the berries begin to "pop".
Stir mixture frequently to prevent sticking to the pan
You'll begin notice the mixture becoming more gelatinous.
Once the compote has thickened, remove from heat.
Chill in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Keep leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Pairs well with this amazing Herbed Flaxseed Recipe
Regina Thomas Dillard is a certified chef, founder of Inner Sanctum Wellness, Regina Cooks Culinary School and the author of FEED: Living Food Recipes to be Made and Eaten with Love. Available softcover, digital download and Amazon.