For me, 2008 could possibly be remembered as the year of the apron. By the end of 2007, despite that fact that I spent time in the kitchen on a daily basis, the only apron that I owned was a plain, formerly white but now stained, restaurant-style apron from a college waitressing job. Wearing this type of apron while cooking or baking is almost pointless, as it only covers you from the waist down. In my experience, batter and sauce only splatter on the unprotected, brand new articles of clothing, worn on the upper half of my body. Like I said, pointless.
I must have mentioned my need for an apron often enough for both my mom and Eric to pick up on it, because I started the new year off with two beautiful Provencal-print cotton versions, which I received for Christmas. One month later, after participating in my first cook-off, I added an off-white apron, with the Manischewitz logo splashed across the front, to my collection (I realize that I might not be the Manischewitz poster child, but I sure had a blast at their cook-off!) I quickly learned that gifting contestants with a branded apron is de rigeur in cooking competitions, as I added designs by Martha White Cornbread, Redwood Creek Wines, Tabasco, and Food Network (they gave me two!) to the increasingly eclectic pile.
Apron number 10 arrived yesterday in the mail, courtesy of FoodBuzz, the online food community for which I am a featured publisher. Since I joined, last December, the folks at FoodBuzz have really taken care of me, sending me personalized blog business cards, a "green" shopping bag, and now a fantastic FoodBuzz apron accompanied by a matching silicone spatula (a cook can never have too many of those!) All of this is just for continuing to do what I was doing before I joined: happily blogging away about my latest cooking creation. If only I could figure out how to make millions doing the very same thing......
Today's post is of the first recipe that I made while sporting my new FoodBuzz apron, a seasonally-appropriate Cranberry Pear Chutney. Ironically, while this aromatic mixture simmered and spattered, not one drop landed on the apron's clean cotton surface (had I been wearing a white blouse, it would have of course stained everywhere.) This chutney is perfect for fall, with its chunks of pear, fresh and dried cranberries, and spiced orange flavors. It can replace cranberry sauce on your holiday table, or you can use it as a condiment for sandwiches. I've been know to eat it straight out of the jar. Here are some extra tips for making this autumn-inspired chutney:
- I like to use Anjou pears for this recipe, as they are a firmer variety, but Bosc or Bartlett pears work work just as well.
- If you prefer apples to pears, feel free to substitute a mixture of tart and sweet varietals for the pears.
- For a slightly different flavor, try substituting golden raisins for the dried cranberries.
- This chutney will keep for up to three weeks, tightly covered, in the refrigerator. If you like to do your own canning, then your can place the chutney in pint or half-pint mason jars and process in a hot-water bath, seal, and label. This canned chutney would make a great hostess gift over the holidays.
Makes about 2 1/2 pints
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup minced shallot
3 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound pears, peeled, cored, and diced
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
In a large (non-aluminum) saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, dried cranberries, orange juice, shallot, ginger, vinegar, orange zest, cinnamon, red pepper, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the pears and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pears are very tender, about 10 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the fresh or frozen cranberries and boil, stirring frequently, until the cranberries begin to burst, 5-7 minutes. Let cool.
Spoon the chutney into jars, seal, and refrigerate.