Years ago, while I was working at Williams-Sonoma, I started doing catering on the side. And it was especially helpful around the holidays. It kept me busy but also put more money in my pocket. I remember one year when I was working at Williams-Sonoma part time, working at a hotel part-time AND creating holiday gift baskets.
I put together chocolate lover’s baskets with brownies, cookies, and fudge sauce. There was a cookie basket with cookies, 2 glasses and milk. And there was even a basket I made with eggnog muffins and sweet honey butter.
During one holiday season, a co-workers said she would pay me to make some cranberry sauce for Christmas gifts. All I had to do was make the sauce, ladle it into French configure glasses and she would put fabric and ribbons on the lids.
Well, that recipe was labor intensive. It was baked in the oven. With tented foil. The reason was because the berries pop as they boil. Once most of the berries burst, and the sauce thickens, the tent is removed. The berries cook until they are really thick. Off the stove, they cool and then are refrigerated.
As best I can figure, I’ve been making cranberry sauce for over 20 years. I don’t think I’ve ever given it as a gift. But I have certainly made it many times and taken to someone’s home for Thanksgiving dinner.
The other thing I learned to do was make cranberry mustard. Puree any leftover cranberry sauce with some honey mustard to taste. Just think of it…the day after Thanksgiving…you’re just relaxing at home…and you get hungry. So you dig the turkey out of the fridge, get two slices of bread, slice some turkey (and heat it up a bit), place it on the bread with some lettuce, and spread some cranberry mustard on one slice of bread. (Psst…if you want to take it to the next level, slice some of that cold dressing, heat it up and sandwich it between the turkey. You can thank me later.)
And don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve added mandarin oranges and sliced oranges…fresh peach slices…chopped fresh pineapple…and toasted pecans for texture (after the cooking process).
So, here’s my gift to you!
12 ounces whole cranberries
1 cup of orange juice
1 cup of sugar
- Pick through the cranberries to remove any bad or discolored berries. Rinse and drain.
- Pour the juice into a large saucepan or small stockpot. Bring to a boil and add 1 cup of sugar. Stir and allow the juice to continue to boil for a minute or so.
- Reduce the heat to a medium heat. The berries should begin to pop and burst. If not, raise the heat a bit. WATCH so the pot doesn’t boil over. And continue to stir the sauce occasionally. The sauce should begin to become very thick. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.