Thanksgiving is our favorite cultural holiday, because foods appear on the table that we don’t see much of for the rest of the year. Like cranberry-orange relish, one of our faves.
We have no one to blame but ourself; and last year we stuck half a dozen bags of fresh cranberries into the freezer, to make raw cranberry-orange relish for summer sorbets and sides with grilled chicken and fish.
We started looking for other ways to use our cranberry relish and—no surprise—it can be enjoyed every day of the year.
Cranberry relish and cranberry sauce are condiments. A condiment is a spice, sauce, spread or other preparation that is added to the main food to enhance flavor or provide a complementary flavor.
The Romans turned their love of the condiments garum and liquamen—two types of fish sauce—into a flourishing condiment industry.
Here’s a list of condiments throughout the globe.
But back to a very American condiment, here’s how we use cranberry relish. Instead of waiting for Thanksgiving dinner, start enjoying it now.
USES FOR CRANBERRY RELISH
 Cranberry sauce on vanilla ice cream (photo courtesy Watermelon Board).
If you don’t already have a recipe, it couldn’t be simpler.
1. PLACE half the cranberries, half the orange slices and optional apple in a food processor; process until mixture is evenly chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the second batch.
2. COMBINE in a bowl and stir in the sugar and optional pecans and/or raisins. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
RECIPE: CRANBERRY ORANGE CHEESECAKE
We love cranberry cheesecake, the tart fruit complementing the rich cheese custard*.
We particularly enjoyed this twist from Reynolds Kitchens.
It’s a creamy, white chocolate cheesecake with orange zest, and a cranberry sauce topping.
We used our cranberry relish instead of the sauce. Either option is delicious.The difference is that sauce is cooked to a smooth consistency, and relish is raw.
Prep time is 4 hours including cooling. Cook time is 1 hour.
Ingredients For The Cheesecake
You can use your favorite cranberry relish recipe, or make this sauce:
1. MAKE the cranberry orange sauce: Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the cranberries start to break down. Remove from heat and cool completely before serving.
2. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with a double layer of 18-inch-wide aluminum foil. Bring the edges of the foil up and mold the foil around the sides of the springform pan to form a watertight seal outside of the pan.
3. ZEST 1 teaspoon of orange zest from the orange. Juice 1/4 cup orange juice from the orange; set both aside.
4. COMBINE the vanilla wafers, pecans, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom and about 1-1/2 inches up the sides of the springform pan. Place in a roasting pan.
5. BEAT the cream cheese, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, flour, and orange zest together in a large bowl using an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Add the orange juice and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs and white chocolate.
6. POUR the filling into the crust pan. Place a roasting pan on the oven rack, and place the springform pan inside the roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
7. BAKE 1 hour or until top is just set and edges jiggle slightly when pan is gently shaken. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to stand in oven for 1 hour. It will continue to set up during standing time in oven.
8. REMOVE the springform pan from water bath and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, loosen the crust from the sides of the springform pan; cool for 30 minutes. Remove the sides of springform pan; cool cheesecake on wire rack for 2 hours.
9. COVER and chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Top with cranberry orange sauce to serve.
*Cheese cake is actually a cheese custard pie. It joins mis-named dishes like Boston Cream Pie, which is a layer cake.