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RECIPE: Cranberry-Orange Relish Variations

Cranberry-Orange Relish
[1] This recipe, from Healthy Seasonal Recipes, substitutes raspberry jam for some of the sugar.

Fresh Cranberries In Bowl
[2] Whole fresh cranberries last for months in the fridge. We pop them into the freezer to make this relish year-round (photo courtesy Ocean Spray).


November 22nd is National Cranberry Relish Day.

This classic cranberry-orange relish recipe from Ocean Spray is simple and delicious—no cooking required!

We make it year-round*, and enjoy it a condiment with grilled meats and fish, sandwiches, and as a yogurt and mayo mix-in. You can use it to top ice cream, sorbet, waffles—it’s a very flexible condiment.

We’ve appended our own list of optional mix-ins to Ocean Spray’s recipe.

For a formal dinner, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, we add Grand Marnier for a subtle touch of elegance.


Ingredients For 3 Cups

  • 1 unpeeled orange, cut into eighths and seeded (navel or Valencia is fine)
  • 1 12-ounce package Ocean Spray fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (start with the smaller amount)
    Optional Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier liqueur or other orange liqueur
  • 1 unpeeled red apple, cored and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade or raspberry jam

    1. PLACE half the cranberries and half the orange slices in the food processor bowl. If using the apple, add half of it as well. Process until the mixture is evenly chopped and transfer to a bowl (we pulse it 5-6 times because we like a chunky relish).

    2. REPEAT with remaining cranberries and orange slices (and optional apple). Stir in the sugar and optional ingredient(s). If using nuts, wait until just before serving to stir them in.

    3. LET the bowl sit for 30 minutes or more to let the flavors meld. You can store the relish in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, covered; or in the freezer.


    *Bags of whole cranberries last a long time in the fridge. We keep half of our stock in the freezer. Some markets carry frozen cranberries year-round.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Keep Gravy Hot

    Yesterday we offered seven tips to fix gravy that was too thick, too thin, too salty, etc.

    So now that you have your perfect gravy, how can you keep it warm?

    It’s simple: Use your thermos!

    This tip works with gravy made in advance, as well as gravy whipped up just before serving…and the extra gravy in the pot on the stove, that you’re keeping to refill the gravy boat.

    Once your gravy is smooth and tasty as you want it, pre-warm the thermos by rinsing it with hot water. Then add the gravy.

    It will stay warm for hours!

    You can use any thermos that you have—or borrow one.

    If you have a thermos carafe that is nice enough to bring to the table, so much the better.


    Thermal Carafe

    An attractive thermos carafe can come to the table to keep gravy hot throughout the meal (photo Keynis | Amazon).



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    TIP OF THE DAY: 7 Gravy Hacks For Thanksgiving Dinner (Or Anytime)

    Turkey Gravy
    [1] There’s nothing like a great homemade gravy. Here’s the recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking.

    Turkey Gravy
    A lighter-color gravy is made with a blonde roux. Here’s the recipe from Cook Eat Paleo.

    Turkey Gravy
    [3] For a darker gravy, use a brown roux. Here’s a recipe from Life Love Liz.


    Basic gravy is made of three ingredients: butter or other fat, stock or other liquid, and flour to thicken and bind them together. Numerous other ingredients can be used—herbs, giblets, mushrooms, onions, pan drippings, seasonings, etc.

    Sounds simple enough; yet of all the foods on the Thanksgiving table, gravy is the one that seems to give cooks the most anxiety.

    Forewarned is forearmed. Here are common gravy problems, and how to work around them.

    Note that gravy thickens as it cools, so first consider if you have an issue.

    Next, you can let the gravy continue to simmer on the stove top, without a lid. For a quicker fix, use one of these starches:

  • Arrowroot: This is the best option, since arrowroot has no flavor. Blend 1 tablespoon of arrowroot per cup of gravy in a small cup or other vessel, using just enough cold water to dissolve it. Stir until dissolved into a slurry (we use a fork or a tiny whisk); then mix into the gravy, stirring constantly. When the gravy thickens, it’s ready to serve.
  • Cornstarch: Blend 1 teaspoon per cup of gravy, in cold water. Stir until dissolved; then mix into the gravy. Continue to cook and stir, to eliminate the cornstarch flavor.
  • Flour: Blend 3 tablespoons per cup of gravy, in cold water. Stir until a smooth paste, then mix into the gravy. Continue to cook and stir to eliminate the raw flour flavor.

    Thin it with beef, chicken or vegetable broth, or water. Whisk in the liquid until you have reached the desired consistency.

    The way to avoid lumps is to add the flour slowly, so it doesn’t lump. Whisk the gravy constantly as you do this.

    A trick is to mix the flour with water or stock before adding it to the gravy. This enables the flour to start dissolving before being added to the gravy, and reduces the chances of lumps forming.

    If you do have lumps, however:

  • Pour the gravy through a mesh strainer into a pan. Heat gently, stir and serve immediately. Or…
  • Beat the gravy until smooth with a whisk or rotary beater. If you still have lumps, use a food processor or blender. Reheat, stirring constantly, and serve immediately.

    If it’s lightly oversalted, add a peeled, quartered raw potato and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the potato and taste the gravy. If it’s still too salty:

  • Add a squeeze of lemon.
  • Add a few pinches of light brown sugar—just a few, or gravy will be too sweet.
    If it’s severely oversalted, the only solution is to increase the quantity. Prepare another batch of gravy without any salt and blend the two batches together.


    There’s nothing wrong with light-colored gravy. As you can see from the photos, gravy comes in a range of colors, depending on the recipe.

    Most recipes start with a roux (ROO), made by cooking flour in the fat (pan drippings, butter or oil). The roux will be white, blonde or brown, depending on how long it is is cooked; the color determines the color of the gravy.

    But if the color of the gravy bothers you, here are two options to darken it:

  • Add a spoonful of Kitchen Bouquet, to the desired color. Kitchen Bouquet is a venerable gravy-fixer, adding caramel color and vegetable flavorings. It was one of the products featured in the United States exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1889. Our mom swore by it; Food stylists often blend it with water to create a cup of “coffee.”
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee.

    For an immediate fix, skim the fat off the top. If it’s still greasy, top it with a slice of fresh bread to sop up the grease.

    If you have more time, chill the gravy. The fat will congeal on the top, making it easy to skim. Then, just reheat and serve.

    While some people plan for 1/2 cup of gravy per person, we recommend that you double it: one cup per person. You don’t want to run out of gravy, and it allows a good supply for leftovers. Plus, it freezes nicely.

    Another way to plan ahead is to buy a couple of packets of McCormick turkey gravy mix. Just add water, and in five minutes you have hot gravy.

    In a pinch, make more gravy with 3 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup of white wine, 1/2 stick butter. Combine in a saucepan over medium heat, slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of flour, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Have other gravy tips? Let us know!


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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Cookies From Jane Bakes

    THE NIBBLE has been publishing for more than 13 years. Over those years, food companies have come to know us, and offer to send us samples of their products.

    Other companies don’t even ask: Every week, boxes of food arrive “over the transom*,” as the expression goes.

    We also attend dozens of trade shows looking for interesting products, and prowl food stores.

    Recently, on the prowl, we came across our Top Pick Of The Week, Jane Bakes. The second pick came over the transom, and the third arrived following an email pitch from the manufacturer.

    The theme of this week’s Top Pick is scrumptious cookies you should not miss! Made by in small batches by dedicated artisans, they’re also great for holiday gifting.

    The prices range from $6.99 to $15, the latter for a larger box with twice as many cookies.


    Jane must be some kind of sorcerer, because her cookies are magically good. They would be outstanding even if they didn’t have better-for-you ingredients.

    One substantial cookie (photo #1) has only 45-47 calories, and 1-1.4 grams of sugar. How is that possible, you’ll ask, especially when you taste them.

    More magic: We can be satisfied with one cookie. It’s hard to describe until you taste them, but our personal analogy is: Just one of Jane’s cookies is like eating a piece of cake.

    Jane developed her cookies after a run of bad luck in 2007: a house fire in February, followed by a heart attack that July and the stock market crash in September that saw her flower business tumble.

    The need for a healthier diet and a new revenue stream resulted in a small café with a focus on healthier foods—and the development of these amazing cookies.

    Great Cookie Ingredients

    The recipe is based on the French sablé (sandy), elegant with a unique texture. They’re:

    • High in fiber—100% whole grain, with no “whole grain flavor” (here are the flours).
    • Only a gram or so (compared to 8g for cookies of similar size), only 1 effective carb per serving. One gram has 4 calories. The Glycemic Index is 12, very diabetic-friendly.
    • Organic cage-free eggs, butter made from hormone-free milk.
    Jane Bakes Cookies
    [1] Four flavors of Jane Bakes cookies show how plump and toothsome they are (all photos courtesy Jane Bakes).

    Chocolate Chip Cookies Jane Bakes
    [2] Our new favorite chocolate chip cookie! Called Whiskey & Rye Chocolate Chip, the rye refers to rye flour and the whiskey is a splash of bourbon—indiscernible, but the alchemy produces gold.

    Double Chocolate Cookies Jane Bakes
    [3] There are three packaging options. The sleeve (in photo) works nicely for stocking stuffers and other gift giving.

    The sugar miracle is an ingredient new to us: Whey Low Sugar, an all-natural product that has 75% fewer calories than table sugar, and is low on the glycemic index. It was named “best sweetener” by the Washington Post and Southern Living, and is available at some Whole Foods stores and online.Here’s the product website. We’re heading to Whole Foods to lay in a stock.And here’s the complete ingredients list for these remarkable cookies.

    Great Flavors

    We bought all the conventional flavors (not the gluten-free), and can unequivocally say: Every cookie eater will be thrilled with them.

    • Coconut Caramel
    • Double Chocolate (tastes like a brownie)
    • Hazelnut & Dark Chocolate
    • Lemon Poppy
    • Raisin Oatmeal
    • Vanilla Bean
    • Whiskey & Rye Chocolate Chip (our new favorite chocolate chip cookie—there’s a splash of bourbon that is not detectable, and the rye is rye flour)

    Gluten-Free Cookies

    • Gluten-Free Amaretto & Oatmeal
    • Gluten-Free Double Chocolate

    There are three package formats: a cardboard sleeve, our favorite for gifting, for $6.99; a kraft bag, $7.99; and glass jars for $9.99.

    Run, don’t walk, to get yours at


    Bunches & Bunches Snaps Gingersnaps
    [4] Snaps, perfection in a gingersnap (photo Bunches & Bunches).Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
    [5] Raspberry Cave cookies, a Swedish style Americans call thumbprints. The jam is made by local artisans (photos #5 and #6 Unna Bakery).

    Unna Bakery Swedish Cookies
    [6] The Swedish-motif box is ready for gift-giving.


    This artisan food business is the “side business” of a professional chef and restaurateur. They arrived over the transom, and it was a happy day for us.

    The company makes a variety of products, but the one we received that made our day was Snaps, our idea of the perfect gingersnap: a perfect combination of sugar, spice and snap.

    What else can we say, except get boxes for everyone, at Bunches & Bunches’ online store.


    Traditional Sweedish cookies from grandmother’s recipes are a welcome

    The ingredients are organic: flour, butter, sugar, milk, eggs, cardamom, baking powers and distilled white vinegar. Flavors include:

    • Cardamon Crisp Cookie, like soft cantucci (small biscotti), have a hint of cardamom.
    • Chocolate Caramel Cookies, topped with nib sugar.
    • Farmer’s Cookie, made with brown butter and almonds, has a charming, subtle nuttiness.
    • Ginger Snap Cookie is just right for those who prefer a lighter hit of ginger.
    • Raspberry Cave Cookie, a buttery thumbprint cookie.
    • Vanilla Dream Cookies, with an airy texture.

    The company describes Swedish traditions:

    The Swedish tradition dictates that you should have a cup of coffee or a tea and a cookie at least once a day.

    In Sweden a “kafferep” is a women’s only social gathering known since the mid 1800’s. Women enjoyed cookies, drank coffee and spent quality time together. The cookies were homemade, and it was important to have a nice mix of cookies at a beautifully set table—preferably with a crocheted tablecloth, flowers and nice porcelain dishes. However, the cookies were the centerpiece.

    At the time, this was one of few activities where women could meet without men and children present. Here women found something to be proud of, something to call their own. The kafferep was the beginning of the “fika” (a little break) and café culture that thrives in Swedish homes and cafés today.

    Historically, the cookies were enjoyed with coffee but they are excellent for your afternoon tea, to pair with wine or champagne and of course with a glass of milk.

    We couldn’t say it better! The boxes, with pretty swedish print, are just right for gifting—and men will appreciate these tasty bites just as much. There’s a store locator on the website, and you can order online at


    We love this phrase, which is common in the publishing industry. It refers to an unsolicited manuscript, as opposed to the publisher asking a writer to submit an article, book, etc.

    In older times, before electric fans (much less air conditioners), doors commonly were topped with transom windows: short windows that sat on top of the door and ran the width of it (here’s an example).

    Transom windows enabled light to come in and were also important for cross-ventilation. Due to their small size and height, they maintained security and privacy. Transoms were a common feature of homes and commercial buildings before air conditioning became common, after World War II.

    The concept dates to Gothic architecture, which ruled from the 12th through 16th centuries. In architecture, a transom is a horizontal structural beam or bar that separates a door from a window above it. Look at the front door of houses you pass: Some may have transom windows that are both decorative and enable light to come in; and some still open.

    In earlier centuries when postage was expensive, writers who wished to have their work considered for publication would literally show up at the publisher’s office and toss the manuscript through the open transom. Hence: over the transom.

    Over time, mailed submissions won out; and today—no surprise—email attachments make life easier for both sides of the transom.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Sauce Gelatin Mold

    This retro idea from Williams Sonoma is an elegant addition to Thanksgiving and Christmas tables.

    Our family was mold-centric for every special occasion: for Valentine’s Day, raspberry Jell-O with raspberries, strawberries and red grapes; for Easter, lime Jell-O with sour cream and crushed pineapple; for Independence Day, red, white and blue layers; and on and on.

    (Remember, this was the era of the Jell-O mold; our childhood favorite was a lemon Jell-O mold filled with fruit cocktail.)

    Today’s recipe is a gelatin mold, not a Jell-O mold. It uses unflavored gelatin—which is also the gelatin used to make savory aspics.

    Note that in addition to Thanksgiving turkey and ham, cranberry sauce/mold is great with all poultry and pork, any time.

    For this recipe, use any mold you have. We use an open center mold like photo #2 for Thanksgiving, and a star shape for Christmas.

    If you don’t have a mold, use a bundt pan or even a loaf pan.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 1-1/4 pounds fresh cranberries
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: substitute 2 tablespoons orange liqueur for an equal amount of water
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin

    Molded Cranberry Sauce
    [1] A classic cranberry mold, from Williams-Sonoma.

    Cranberry Mold

    [2] Cranberry mold from NPR.


    1. COMBINE the cranberries, sugar, zest, orange juice, salt and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the cranberries have burst, 25 to 35 minutes. Note: The sauce should measure no more than 3-3/4 cups. Meanwhile…

    2. POUR the remaining 2 tablespoons of water into a bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let it stand until the gelatin softens and swells, 5 to 10 minutes.

    3. SPOON 3/4 cup of the hot juices from the cranberries into the gelatin and whisk until the gelatin has dissolved. If you prefer a sauce with a smoother texture, transfer the remaining cranberry mixture to a food processor and pulse for 2 seconds (10 to 15 times), then proceed as directed.

    4. POUR the gelatin mixture into the cranberry mixture and whisk to combine. Lightly coat the inside of the mold with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the cranberry mixture into the prepared mold and let cool to room temperature. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.

    5. TO UNMOLD: Set the mold in a large bowl of warm water (115° to 120°F) so the water reaches almost to the rim of the mold. Let stand for 30 seconds, then remove the mold from the water (retain the water in case you need it in Step 6).

    Carefully insert a small offset spatula or paring knife along the side of the mold. Gently pull the gelatin away from the mold to release the suction, then remove the spatula.

    6. PLACE a serving platter upside down on top of the mold and invert the platter and mold together. Gently shake the mold until you hear the gelatin begin to release, then lift off the mold. If the gelatin does not release, return the mold to the warm water for 15 seconds, then repeat the Steps 5 and 6.


    Savory Aspic
    [3] A savory aspic (unflavored gelatin; photo courtesy Kraft).

    Fruit JellO Mold

    [4] A Jell-O mold packed with fruit. Here’s the recipe from Taste Of Home.



    Gelatin dishes date to medieval Europe, laboriously made in the kitchens of the elite. Collagen had to be slowly rendered from animal bones, then clarified.

    Take out the great Bones of four Calves Feet, and put the Feet into a Pot with ten Quarts of Water, three Ounces of Hartshorn, three Ounces of Isinglass, a Nutmeg quarter’d, four Blades of Mace; then boil this till it comes to two Quarts, and strain it through a Flannel-Bag, let it stand twenty-four Hours, then scrape all the Fat from the Top very clean, then slice it, and put to it the Whites of six Eggs beaten to Froth, boil it a little, and strain it again through a Flannel-Bag, then run the Jelly into little high Glasses…You may add Orange-flower Water, or Wine and Sugar, and Lemon if you please, but this is all Fancy. (Quoted in Richard Sax, Classic Home Desserts) [source]

    Decorative molds, often centerpiece-size, were created to hold the gelatin or “jelly,” aspic, or similar dish. The gelatin dish was a work of art. Victorians loved molded foods of all kinds.

    Thomas Jefferson returned from France with a penchant for wine jelly, and his kitchen staff had been trained in France to make it. In New York high society, gelatin dishes were a delicacy.

    In 1845, an American inventor patented a dessert product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off. Much later, in 1897, powedered, fruit-flavored gelatin was invented and this time, it took off (the history of Jell-O).

    Around the turn of the century, many women in the emerging American middle class sought to elevate domestic science in their homes, from efficiency and cleanliness to more interesting food. Jell-O took off.


    A housewife could stretch her family’s leftovers by encasing them in plain gelatin. It was also an efficient and tidy process. Everything from vegetables to green salads to chicken salad was molded in gelatin.

    By 1902, Jell-O sales were beginning to soar, and in 1904, Charles Knox promoted Knox Gelatin at the World’s Fair. Smartly, he staged a cooking contest; and in 1905, Mrs. John Cooke of New Castle, Pennsylvania, won third prize in Perfection Salad, “an aspic filled with finely chopped cabbage, celery, and red pepper” that had eye-appeal with its “jewel-like and impeccable” molded precision.

    Meanwhile, families were enjoying snacks and desserts of fruit-flavored Jell-O, and Jell-O salads were ladies’ luncheon fare. Jell-O cookbooks appeared, some devoted entirely to lime Jell-O (source).

    Sugar was rationed during World War II, but when supplies were restored, recipes like Red Crest Salad—strawberry Jell-O with chopped tomatoes and pickles—became popular.

    And so it went, with savory and sweet gelatin molds and loves, up until the 1970s, when California cuisine and the advisory to consume less sugar made Jell-O molds out of style.

    Read more of the story here.


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