Grandma Natalie’s Cranberry Relish


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My Sicilian grandmother didn’t know from Thanksgiving, but she was a great cook and her cranberry relish is the best I’ve ever tasted.  It is sweet, sour, crunchy and fresh.  It’s a welcome counterpoint to all the heavy Thanksgiving foods: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes etc.

There were no food processors back in the day so she used her cast iron, hand cranked meat grinder and sausage maker to grind the cranberries.  Now that my grandmother has passed away, I am asked to bring the relish to every   Thanksgiving dinner and it is my pleasure and my honor.

  • 12oz pkg fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup diced apple
  • 1 juicy navel orange
  • 1/4 cup diced celery heart
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (toasted or raw)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • A few grindings of black pepper
  1. Wash and dry cranberries.  Place in the work bowl of a food processor with the blade attachement and chop course.  My grandmother had a hand cranked meat grinder which she used on a medium grind for this purpose. You can also use a stand mixer if you have a grinder attachment or simply chop by hand.
  2. Place cranberries in a bowl and add the sugar, walnuts, apple, celery, salt and pepper.
  3. Zest the orange with a micro plane and add half or all to the cranberries.  How much you use is a matter of preference. I use half the rind
  4. Supreme the orange (my grandmother never did this) over the bowl of cranberries to catch the juice.  Cut the orange slices in half and to the cranberries.  In the picture, I have the oranges in the work bowl but don’t process them in there or you’ll get orange mush.

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5.  Let macerate for a few hours.  The sugar will break down the cranberries and make them juicy and a bit softer.  I recommend using the full amount of sugar.  If you find it too sweet you can add some lemon juice but it needs the sugar to break down the cranberries.

Couscous Salad

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Ma Belle Mere and her sister Danielle made this salad for my family on a hot summer day in the Loire Valley where we were vacationing. The crunch of cucumber, soft and fruity tomatoes, the sharp tang of capers and lemon juice and fragrant olive oil and mint were refreshing and evocative of Algeria and Italy, where Marie-Paule and Danielle originate

In order to make this salad you need the following:

  • 1 cup cous cous, (preferably fine grain if you can find it but medium grain will do)
  • 2 pickling cucumbers, peeled and diced small
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon of small capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup diced green Bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves.
  1. Place cous cous in a microwave safe container and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of water. Cover and microwave for 2 minutes. Let rest, covered for another two minutes then remove the cover. Separate the grains with your hands by rolling the grains between the palms of your hands
  2. Toss everything else together in the bowl with the couscous. Adjust the seasonings as you like, more or less salt, mint, juice or oil. Eat immediately as the cous cous will continue to absorb the oil and juice and will seem dry.

This salad can easily include or exclude items. Sometimes I put some onions or toasted pine nuts or raisin.  Sometimes I omit the capers if I have a guest that doesn’t like them. If you don’t like Mint, use Basil, Marjoram, Parsley or Cilantro instead.