Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cranberry, sour cherry, apple and sage relish

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find frozen cranberries a week before Christmas? There was more chance of the dust at the bottom of my wardrobe self organising and marching up the vacuum cleaner hose while I was asleep, than me laying my hands on a box of these little puppies. All the clever cooks had bought their frozen cranberries in August and were laughing smugly behind their trolleys as I fossicked around the Creative Gourmet and Sara Lee sections of the supermarket freezer, flinging raspberries and mango cheeks about with gay abandon.

But the resourceful cook thinks of a way around these irritating hardships, so like Hannibal with a herd of elephants I switched to plan B and headed to the Craisins aisle. Hmmm ... an ominous shelf-gap yawned like an abyss between the dried apricots and the sultanas. Me and pachyderms slunk home, but the brain was still ticking over. Luckily dried cranberries last for a fair while and a decent rummage through the cupboard yielded a half a pack. It’s a start. A full scale expedition into the inner sanctum of the pantry saw me emerge with dried sour cherries, a remnant of the last time I spent the better part of a day tackling a ‘simple’ recipe from a Kylie Kwong cookbook.

So with these substitutions in place I went on to do create a luscious accompaniment for the Christmas ham and turkey, with the help of a basic recipe from Donna Hay’s Celebrate issue.

1 onion, chopped
3 tbsp light olive oil
4 granny smith apples, peeled cored and chopped
½ cup dried cranberries (craisins)
¾ cup dried sour cherries
1 cup sugar
¾ cup Chardonnay vinegar
¾ cup port
¼ cup chopped sage leaves
Salt and black pepper to season

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook slowly for 30 minutes until they start to caramelise. Add all the other ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer gently for an hour until the relish is thick and syrupy. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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