Saturday, November 22, 2014

Brown sugar cranberry sauce with bourbon (if you dare)

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane Maffini

We're all having a great time here in Mystery Lovers Kitchen in the run up to Thanksgiving, even us Canadians!  We are loving the recipes and the good mood.  And because we’ll be feeling thankful all week, we are happy to offer a giveaway – you’ll find the details at the end of our post and we'll announce the winner on Thanksgiving day!  Do come by. 

Our readers have been posting about what they can’t live without on ‘turkey’ days. It’s hard for us to choose because although we love stuffing, cranberry sauce is the one thing we can’t live without when there’s a turkey in the picture. 

We love the punchy flavor and the bright color. We like to make it at home, because it’s just so easy. In a pinch it’s just cranberries, water and sugar, but we prefer to dress that up a bit. And as we are trying to lighten our recipes without diminishing the taste, we have a few tricks up our sleeves. This is a great little recipe and you can add your own favorite flavors. 

Some of you may remember that MJ still has that bottle of bourbon from the Plumcot cake recipe this fall.  We did a test with half our cranberry sauce and a dollop of the bourbon.  We think it tastes great and is probably full of extra vitamins. What? Oh.

We think either version would be great to bring along if you are a guest for Thanksgiving. It’s not hard to make and you can whip it up a week or so ahead.  Put it in a pretty jar or in a little vintage dish that can be a hostess gift –  as this one was for us.  

We'll set our table simply now: something like this from the Chicken with Apples post.
We like the warm fall colors and the glow of candles. 

We often serve cranberry sauce in the glass turkey that was part of every Thanksgiving and Christmas table when MJ was growing up.  We won’t be giving that away! 

Take it away, cranberries …

Brown-Sugar Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar, firmly packed (or 1/3 cup regular brown sugar,.  we find the Splenda brown sugar bit sweeter)
1 12-oz. bag of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 tsp. freshly black pepper
pinch of kosher salt
1- 2  Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves + a little more for garnish
2 to 4 Tbsp Bourbon or whisky, to suit your taste
Combine the water and the brown sugar in a medium-sized saucepan.
Set on the stove over high heat. Whisk to combine. Bring it up to a boil, whisking occasionally.
Add the cranberries, salt and pepper. You can add the cranberries fresh or frozen. Cook on medium until cranberries pop and mixture thickens nicely.  Add your thyme and, if you choose, your bourbon or whisky.

Cool and put in container. It will keep in the refrigerator for three or four days. Or straight into a pretty service dish.  If you’re lucky, you now get to relax! 

Victoria Abbott is the mysterious collaboration between the artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother, the mystery writer, Mary Jane Maffini.  Strangely enough, their three book collector mysteries, The Christie Curse, The Sayers Swindle and The Wolfe Widow all contain Siamese cats. Coming in September 2015 The Marsh Madness.

And now, because we’re in such a great mood, here’s our gift for you: we’ll draw from the names in the comments – make sure you leave an email address – for a copy of The Wolfe Widow, our Thanksgiving book.  

 Already have it? We’ll make a deal from one of the other Victoria Abbott books or your choice of MJ’s thirteen titles.  Check them out HERE:

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  1. My husband found a glass turkey in an antique store when we were first married. My husband has passed away but the glass turkey is still there ever Thanksgiving!

  2. My husband has made the fresh cranberry but never used any burbon or brown sugar always white sugar. But since we now go away for Thanksgiving we no longer make it.

  3. I've always made just the plain cranberry sauce---but this year I think I'll try your recipe---it sounds really yummy. Thanks for the contest.

  4. Your recipe is great. I will try it this year. Wonderful giveaway. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. The Cranberry sauce would be a hit with all. So tempting. Thanks for this feature. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  6. The recipe sounds great! -Thanks for the chance to win.

  7. I love brown sugar and I love cranberries. What could be bad about this recipe? Yum!

    Daryl / Avery (Happy non-Thanksgiving to the Canadians!) :)

  8. I have only made plain homemade cranberry sauce this sounds like a delicious twist. I think that I will try this version this year.

  9. Recipe sounds good but I hate to admit my mother was not the greatest cook. We always had cranberry sauce straight out of the can. You know remove one end of the can and put a few holes in the other end. It would slide out and we would eat it 'can shaped' displayed on the table.

  10. As Canadians with strong US connections, you get to celebrate Thanksgiving twice! Nice deal.
    I'm thankful that I've already gotten to totally enjoy The Wolfe Widow. Another fine book.
    My family's cranberry sauce is uncooked cranberries, lemon and orange (peel and all), and sugar, all chopped in a food processor. It looks like beautiful jewels.

  11. Growing up in the 40s/50s we always had the canned jellied cranberry like Connie above - but it was sliced and then cut with a turkey cookie cutter so everyone had a cranberry turkey! Maybe somewhere buried I still have mom's old turkey cookie cutter!.

  12. Now this looks good. Better than the can version for sure.

  13. Keep the bourbon recipes coming! I love cranberries and bourbon seems a wonderful addition!

  14. Yum! Thank you for the recipe and the giveaway.

  15. I'm not big on cranberries, but the book looks great!! :)

  16. Love cranberries! I always use dried ones in salads or in oatmeal.

  17. My mom used to make cranberry sauce with cranberries, apples and sugar but she never wrote it down so I have no idea how many apples or how much sugar. She would put them through a grinder (back in the 50s). The best sauce ever.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  18. I make cranberry sauce with grated orange peel and sugar. Better than the canned kind.

  19. The recipe looks yummy and the book has my interest :-)

  20. My mom favors the plop kind ... the one you get from a can that plops out onto the serving dish. But I guess that's more of a jelly? Either way she's the only one that likes it. Thank you!

  21. The recipe looks interesting. I like the canned kind.*

  22. I love the glow of candles on your table. And your darling turkey! Your cranberries sound delicious. I'm the only one who eats them here - do I still get to use the Bourbon?

  23. I love cranberries & I love your mysteries!

  24. Love cranberries!

    littleone AT Shaw DOT ca

  25. I'm not a big cranberry lover, but this recipe sounds yummy, I'll have to give it a try.
    momzillasteel at gmail dot com

  26. I've never been a huge cranberry sauce fan, but then the cranberry sauce I'm used to comes out of a can. This recipe looks delicious, and the book looks wonderful. Thanks for the chance to win!

  27. I love cranberries and always make a relish with pears and ginger, but this is a very tempting change.

  28. Not a big cranberry fan - but can't wait for the rest.

  29. Love the fact that this recipe uses Splenda products. As diabetic it is hard enough to be good on holidays. Need a good book to cuddle with after the football is over.