Sweet-tart treats from Abby Park executive chef Tony DeRienzoBy Maria Allen | Photography by Andrew Ayer
The annual cranberry harvest is a major event here on the South Shore. The crimson crop from local bogs is turned into a wide variety of cranberry products, including fresh and frozen fruit and sweetened, dried snacks. Chef Tony DeRienzo, executive chef of Abby Park in Milton, likes to incorporate local cranberries into the dishes he creates.
“Cranberries are a super food. There have been studies that suggest cranberries have many health benefits, including for heart and stomach health. Plus, cranberries are known to have anti-inflammatory properties,” says DeRienzo.
While fresh cranberries are ideal for sauces and dishes like risotto, when it comes to baking, DeRienzo prefers to use a locally produced dried cranberry product called Paradise Meadow Cooking & Baking Julienne Cranberries.
“I like the Paradise Meadow brand not only because the grower, Decas Cranberry Products, is local, but also because the cranberries they distribute tend to be bigger and juicier than other brands,” says DeRienzo. Using the julienne cranberries saves prep time when baking.
Here are a few of DeRienzo’s favorite cranberry recipes, inspired by his Italian roots.
Cranberry Borlotti Risotto
5 cups butternut squash, diced
2 ½ cups Arborio rice
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 small-medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups borlotti beans
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dash of nutmeg (optional)
2 cups Paradise Meadow Cooking & Baking Julienne Cranberries
Grated Pecorino cheese, optional garnish
Basil or parsley for garnish
1. Coat a large pot with olive oil.
2. Add chopped onion and stir; cooking until softened.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients
including the nutmeg, if using
(excluding the garnishes).
4. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
5. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring
occasionally to prevent sticking.
6. Stir in Paradise Meadow Julienned Cranberries. Add salt and pepper to taste and Pecorino cheese and herbs, as desired.
Limoncello Cranberry Curd Tart with Amaretti Cookie Crust
(Naturally Gluten Free)
Ingredients for Crust
8 ounces Amaretti cookies (usually gluten-free, but always check packaging)
1 tablespoon cane sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
Ingredients for Cranberry Limoncello Curd Filling
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup water
4 cups Paradise Meadow fresh or unthawed frozen cranberries
1½ cups sugar, divided
5 large egg yolks
⅛ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons limoncello
4 tablespoons butter, chilled
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Pulse cookies in food processor until finely chopped. Transfer crumbs to a tart pan, add the melted butter and mix well. Press cookie crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown on the edges as oven temperatures can vary. Remove crust from the oven and cool completely. (Crust can be made 2-3 days in advance.)
2. Begin to prepare the cranberry limoncello curd. Combine lemon juice, water, cranberries and ½ cup of the sugar in a medium pot or saucepan. Bring to a simmer and then lower the heat and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until most of the berries have popped open and released their juice. Remove pan from heat and mash cranberries well with a potato masher (or pulse in a blender or food processor). Strain mashed cranberries through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing down on the solids to remove as much juice as possible. Discard solids.
3. In a sturdy 4-quart pot, whisk together the egg yolks, salt and remaining 1 cup of sugar. While whisking, add the cranberry juice and limoncello. Keep whisking until well combined. Switch the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring or whisking constantly, for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon—about the consistency of yogurt. Be careful not to let it boil or the eggs will curdle. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the contents through a sieve set over a clean bowl. Let the curd come to room temperature. If using immediately, pour the lemon curd into a chilled tart shell, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. If using later, cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
4. When preparing to use, whisk the cranberry limoncello curd to loosen it (It may be lumpy at first, just keep whisking and it will smooth out.). Pour lemon curd into the crust and spread out evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. To serve, cut into wedges and top with whipped cream.
2.5 ounces rum
1.5 ounces cranberry thyme simple syrup (recipe below)
½ ounce lime
Cranberry Thyme Simple Syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ cup Paradise Meadow dried cranberries
3-4 springs fresh thyme
1. Heat 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, ¼ cup of Paradise Meadow dried cranberries
and 3-4 sprigs of thyme in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved (5-10 minutes). You will have extra syrup
2. Remove from heat and bring syrup to room temperature.
3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and refrigerate syrup until ready to use.
Mix the syrup, rum and lime together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with a sprig of thyme or fresh cranberries.
Cranberry Pistachio &
Candied Orange Peel Biscotti
¼ cup light olive oil
¾ cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
½ cup Paradise Meadow Cooking & Baking julienne cranberries
½ cup chopped candied orange peel (Make in advance. See accompanying recipe)
1 cup pistachio nuts
1. Preheat the oven to 300° F
2. In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts and grated orange rind, then beat in the eggs. Combine flour, salt and baking powder and then gradually incorporate into the egg mixture. Mix in the cranberries, candied orange peel and nuts.
3. Divide the dough in half and form into two logs (about 12 inches long) on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Dough may be sticky; wet hands with cool water to make handling the dough easier.
4. Bake for 35 minutes in the oven or until the logs are light brown. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 275° F.
5. Cut logs on a diagonal into ¾-inch thick slices. Lay the pieces on their sides on parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Bake approximately 8 – 10 minutes, or until dry. Let cool, and enjoy.
Candied Orange Peel
(Make in advance, makes 2 cups)
3 navel or Valencia oranges
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup water
1. Rinse the oranges. Cut the top and bottom off each orange and score the skin into quarters. Remove the skin (peel and pith) and cut the skin into strips about ¼-inch wide.
2. Place the strips of orange peel in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring water to a boil. Drain the water from the peels and repeat this process twice more.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and ¾-cup water. Pour the sugar water into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let the mixture cook for 8-9 minutes at a constant simmer.
4. Add the peel and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain the simmer. Avoid stirring, as this will cause crystallization. If necessary, swirl the pan to make sure that all of the peels get covered with the syrup. At the end of this period, the peels should be translucent.
5. Drain any remaining syrup from the peels and spread the peels out on a drying rack and allow to dry for 4-5 hours.