With the upcoming Thanksgiving meal, many are already planning the menu. However, ours seldom changes. Everyone seems to have a favorite that they expect every year.
In addition to the turkey and dressing ("stuffing," if you are not from the South), cranberry sauce is expected on the table. I like cranberry sauce, but sometimes I like to use cranberries in other ways. How about a cranberry dessert? Of course, you can still have the cranberry sauce.
One dessert that comes to mind is my cranberry nut cobbler, made with fresh cranberries and pecans. This tasty cobbler is topped with a pourable, orange-flavored crust. The first time I carried it to a church dinner, almost everyone thought it was a dark cherry cobbler.
Another favorite is made with dried cranberries and apples, cooked in a rum-flavored apple juice. The pastry for these Cranberry Apple Strudel Sticks actually is flour tortillas. It is amazing how the tortillas, when fried, give these "sticks" the texture of strudel. A generous sprinkling with "cinnamon dust" is another flavor booster.
When making these "sticks," remember that you are supposed to leave the ends open. They are not rolled like burritos, but more like a jelly roll with open ends. Also remember to remove the toothpicks before serving.
CRANBERRY NUT COBBLER
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 cups water
1 package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1 cup sugar, the water and cranberries in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 3 minutes or until berries are popping. They will be soft but not mushy. Remove from heat and stir in remaining sugar and pecans. Melt butter in a 3-quart baking dish. Pour the cranberry filling into dish. Pour the batter for the crust over the filling. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Orange Pourable Crust:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup self-rising flour (see note below)
2/3 cup orange juice
Combine all ingredients and beat well. Pour over cranberry filling
NOTE: If you don't have self-rising flour, you can use all-purpose to which you add 1/2 tablespoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
CRANBERRY APPLE STRUDEL STICKS
1 package (4.5 ounces) dried apples
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 teaspoon rum extract
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 (9-inch) flour tortillas
Oil for frying
Combine dried apples, cranberries, apple juice and rum extract in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until apples are tender (about 6 to 7 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in sugar and cinnamon. Allow to cool. Starting about 1 1/2 inches from bottom of each tortilla, spoon 1/3 cup filling across tortilla in narrow strip, leaving about 1 inch on each side without filling. This prevents it from seeping out when fried. Roll tightly, forming long "sticks." Fasten with toothpicks. Heat about 1/2 inch oil in large skillet to 350 degrees. Carefully place each "stick" in skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, turning as needed until golden brown. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Remove toothpicks. Sprinkle with cinnamon dust. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Cinnamon Dust: Sift together 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
NOTE: If apples have a lot of juice left in the pan, use a slotted spoon to lift the apple/cranberry mixture onto tortillas.
Prudence Hilburn has won more than 30 national cooking awards and written several cookbooks, including "Simply Southern and More." Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.prudencehilburn.com.