Friday, 16 November 2012

Cranberry Shrub

You might ask yourself - what on earth is a shrub? Well, other than the plant in your local park.
The first time I consciously came across a shrub recipe was in the the Maine section (for raspberries) of the lovely new edition of Clementine Paddleford's Great American Cookbook. While I am absolutely in love with that book - reading her stories that come with the recipes you are going on a journey across a country that is very similar to the US these days but at the same time it feels like you are exploring a completely different country. If you like going to those living history museums where you can see how people used to live 'back in the days' then I am pretty sure you will love the book as much as I do (and all the recipes I have tried so far were really nice!).
Anyway, this recipe called for exactly three ingredients, raspberries, sugar and vinegar. I had this somewhat latent plan of making some kind of shrub at some point to find out what this whole thing was about. If I am going to be perfectly honest with you I was not quite convinced by the whole fruit and vinegar thing but a few weeks ago I followed a link on the bitten word and came across guess what - cranberry shrub. From their description it sounded like it could actually be nice and they suggested serving it with vodka, so I decided I could always up the vodka if it was really horrible. Boy, was I wrong!
This stuff is amazing! As I mentioned yesterday, it pretty much tastes like Brause. In all its fizzy awesomeness. Somehow the vinegar does something on your tongue that it doesn't do when you make salad dressing. I don't have a clue how it works but it's amazing. And more importantly, unlike with the dried stuff of my youth you can add soda water and it will taste even more amazing (the dried stuff would always bubble over and spill everywhere on the table and it never seemed to taste as good as it did with flat water but then there weren't enough bubbles...childhood trauma....I'm telling you).
But let's get to the actual recipe, if you are looking for a somewhat old-fashioned aperitif for Thanksgiving (or any kind of dinner party in the near or far future) I strongly suggest you make a shrub. Any kind really. Because I can't imagine shrub made with other fruit tasting any less amazing than the cranberry one I made :)

Cranberry Shrub (adapted from Dunn & Patton, after a recipe in Fine Cooking)
3 cups Cranberries
3 cups Water
1 cup Raw Cane Sugar
3/4 cup Vinegar (I used 25% vinegar and water in a 1:4 ratio to make the 3/4 cup - go for just under 3 tbsp of the concentrated vinegar in that case - otherwise white wine or apple vinegar will be good alternatives)
Zest of 1/2 Orange

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the cranberries have turned into mush.
Take the pan off the heat and wait until the cranberry mixture has cooled down.
Puree with an immersion blender or if you only have a normal blender blend it in batches.
Strain through some musselin to remove the remaining pieces of cranberry skin.

Now, that was nice and easy :)

Soda water goes really nice with this. As does vodka or Chase gin or sparkling apple cider or tonic water. I haven't tried anything else, but  I'm sure there are a lot more lovely combinations that will work.
I hope you have a lovely weekend! I will be enjoying airline food :) fun times!

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