The Botching Of, And Crazed Effort To Correct, A Martha Stewart Recipe - Ellen's Tastes Blog at - 215164

Ellen's Tastes

The Botching of, and Crazed Effort to Correct, a Martha Stewart Recipe 
Jan. 4, 2011 9:47 am 
Updated: Jan. 5, 2011 6:47 am
Honest to God, I don't know if I should be embarrassed or proud. Martha Stewart both interests and repels me at the same time. Some of her ideas are just great; others.... not so much. 

Still, I'm an equal opportunity chef, so I decided to try one of Martha's recipes for cranberry sauce to serve at Christmas dinner. I was hoping for a gentle lift to a family favorite.

First, Martha had me mix the cranberries with sugar and let them simmer (without any liquid) until, she said, the cranberries would burst in about 15 minutes. Well, I waited, stirring occasionally, but the cranberries were hardly bursting in their allotted time. I let them cook another 15 minutes before it looked like there was enough juice to move ahead with the next step: adding small bits of a fresh orange (peel and white stuff removed) and one tablespoon of freshly ground ginger. A touch of cinnamon and,  as far as Martha was concerned, that was it.

And that was when I knew I'd stumbled into a major problem: the ginger overpowered the lovely cranberry flavor. It wasn't even close to the cranberry sauce my friends and family know and love. It was time for emergency surgery.

It was Christmas eve, so what followed was rather a wild ride. I'd have to rely on my sense of smell, and hunches about what to do to balance too much ginger. As my efforts proceeded, I also had to balance what I added to correct the original offending ingredient (not that I don't love ginger... it has it's place.... but I respectfully suggest you ignore anyone who tells you to add ginger to your cranberry sauce).

I reached for some OJ and stirred. Better, but the ginger was still too strong. I tossed in a touch of balsamic vinegar (possibly a bit of insanity on my part) and that helped but not quite enough. Next, some lemon juice, which didn't do much. Then some red wine. Better, but even further from the cranberry sauce "lift" I'd been looking for. As my sanity lost more of its grip on the issue, I added curry powder and possibly some Cointreau. At this point, I can't remember all that was thrown in to fix the ginger issue, although I do know that by the time I was done, the ginger was tamed but the result was a very distant cousin of the cranberry sauce I'd been hoping for.

I placed it in the 'fridge to let it gel and, after an hour or so -- in a unusual moment of clarity that night -- I asked my husband to taste it to let me know if he thought it would work. He took a bite and said: "If there are cranberries in here they've lost their will to survive". 

And thus, the whole batch went into the garbage. Sweet hubby went to the market, and Christmas dinner was served with cranberry sauce from two cans of Ocean Spray. 

The lesson learned: don't mess too much with a recipe that should let the main ingredient speak for itself. First Martha messed with it by adding ginger and then I messed with it by adding pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.

My New Year's resolution (besides losing 30 pounds, which is my traditional resolution) is to keep experimenting, but to do so when I'm not in a crunch for time.

Hope your holidays were free of unnecessary ingredients, and that you're off to a good start in 2011.
Jan. 4, 2011 10:32 am
Very nicely presented. I "overdosed" potato salad with mustard and tried saving it by trying to cover up the mustard. Your cranberries probably fell on top of it in the garbage.
Jan. 4, 2011 12:15 pm
Thanks for sharing! I must say, I feel the same way about Martha! I made a similar mistake recently - sauteed up some green beans, peppers and carrots then made a nice sauce to go with the spicy salmon I was making....went a little nuts with the Sriracha. I actually rinsed the veggies off because it was so hot my eyes would burn every time I took a bite.
Jan. 4, 2011 4:45 pm will be your cranberry recipe for life and you can use bourbon in place of the brandy. I feel your pain, though it is always when you want everything perfect that things go wrong. I'd be willing to bet that Martha actually uses 1 tsp. of ginger.
Jan. 4, 2011 6:35 pm
Oh Big Shot...!! 1) Thanks and 2) do you really think Martha misleads us? And, if so, you think on purpose? (What could she gain???)
Jan. 4, 2011 10:30 pm
Well that was very funny. Not funny ha-ha like I'm laughing at you, but more like funny, because I think we've all been there before in some manner or another. You just happened to put it in some clever, witty words. I have to tell you though, I nearly gasped at red wine and curry :D
Jan. 5, 2011 5:38 am
fun blog...ita about your "martha" views.
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About Me
I've loved cooking since I was a kid, and still have my first (very battered) cookbook. Other than cooking, I adore interior design, writing, and playing bridge. Oh... and tasting new wines (or old favorites).
My favorite things to cook
As I've grown older, my tastes and philosophy have changed. I now use organic ingredients whenever I can, and I prefer using unprocessed ingredients.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Well, my mother (bless her) had 8 people to feed, so she made foods that were easy to prepare. My favorites were her baked ribs with barbecue sauce; english muffins topped with cheese, tomato, and bacon, and then broiled; and spaghetti noodles with tomato soup and cheddar cheese stirred in. I wouldn't make these dishes today, but they're full of fond memories.
My cooking triumphs
Adding orange juice to diced tomato sauce • Adding Cointreau to fresh fruit salads or a chocolate sauce • Adding tequila and bittersweet chocolate to chili • "poaching" salmon in orange juice, sprinkled with Old Bay and tarragon • adding cidar vinegar and soy sauce to vegetable soups • adding fresh mint to steamed red potatoes • knowing how to bail out a botched dish (example: over-steamed broccoli mashed with bleu or swiss cheese isn't nearly as bad as over-steamed broccoli on it's own).
My cooking tragedies
Over-steaming broccoli and most any other veggie... and a lasagna that was so loaded with oregano, no one could eat it.
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