Posted by Stephanie Simpson on
Growing up, the week following Thanksgiving at my house was always one of culinary creativity. After a few post-weekend plates of the full meal deal, the carrots and turnips would grow thin (simply because we’d cooked less of them - Thanksgiving was no time for a balanced meal) and we’d be left with a zillion pounds of turkey.
So we ate everything turkey: open-faced hot turkey sandwiches served on white bread and doused with molten gravy, turkey and barley soup and, perhaps the most creative, turkey jambalaya.
Now that I forgo the fowl on Thanksgiving, my leftovers are limited to vegetable dishes, which still disappear just as fast. So by the end of last week, the last bit of Thanksgiving left in my fridge was a half-bag of fresh cranberries.
Oh, poor cranberries. I reckon the majority of these beauties end up either as a super-sweet accompaniment to holiday turkey, or dehydrated, bagged and sent to compete with raisins for dried fruit world domination. Now, I admit I do eat dried and sauced cranberries (a true fan, I’ve always elevated cranberry sauce to a dish in its own right, to be eaten sans turkey). But fresh cranberries are capable of so much more!
Rocking the sweet-and-sour combo, cranberries play nice with sweet things like apples, pears, sugars and spices, and get along just as well with sour things like citrus juices and zests. Plus, they’re packed with a long enough list of nutrients to qualify them for superfruit status, and yet they’re inexpensive, will keep fresh in the fridge or freezer for ages and require just a good rinse and maybe a chop or two to get them started.
So this year, rather than stashing my cranberries in the freezer until the next holiday meal, I channeled the spirit of Thanksgivings past and got creative. And man, did it pay off. These speedy cranberry and lemon scones are ridicuolously good: sweet, buttery, crunchy on the outside, cloud-like on the inside, and packed with juicy fresh cranberries and bright lemon zest (the heavy cream doesn’t hurt either, but I swapped in some whole wheat flour and fully intend to share them). Plus, they beg not to be kneaded, which means an easier time for everyone. Hurray!
Whether you give them a try or not, I encourage you to free your leftover cranberries from the shackles of another red sauce and get creative. In need of inspiration? Try your hand at a three-ingredient cranberry sorbet, a simple coffee cake swirled with ribbons of sugared cranberries, homemade cranberry vodka (from the BBC, of all places), or a fall-ready pear and cranberry crisp.
And if you’ve got a favourite way to serve up your cranberries, give me a shout in the comments section - I’d love to hear what’s on your cranberry radar!
Cranberry & Lemon Scones
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 12-16 scones
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped*
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup of cream
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup of whole wheat)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into teeny (1cm-ish) cubes
2 tbsp lemon zest (orange would also be tasty!)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix together chopped cranberries with 3 tbsp sugar. In another small bowl, beat egg and egg yolk together, then mix in cream. In a food processor,** combine flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt and whizz to combine. Add in butter cubes and lemon zest and pulse just until mixture is coarse, with butter bits roughly the size of peas (I did 20 quick pulses).
2. Pour flour mixture into a large bowl. Dump in cranberries and stir until they’re evenly distributed through flour mixture. Make a small well in flour mixture and pour in egg-cream mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon just until the flour is moistened. The batter will be clumpy, but resist the urge to knead - treating the dough gently from hereon in will make for tender scones!
3. Turn half of the dough out onto a well-floured surface and, with floured hands, gently pat into a circle roughly 1-inch high and 5-6 inches across. Cut into six or eight pieces and place 1-inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake scones 15-20 minutes or until tops and bottoms are golden. Remove from oven and transfer immediately to a wire rack to cool.
*I’d recommend placing just a few cranberries on your cutting board at a time and carefully slicing them in half (you can do a few at once). If you try to chop the full quantity of whole cranberries at once, you’ll have a zillion berries rolling all over the place.
**You can skip the food processor and do this by hand if you want. Just place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk together, before adding the zest and butter. Break the butter up into the flour using a pastry cutter, a fork or your fingertips until the mixture is coarse and the butter is the size of small peas.