Have you been worried about your blue cheese? Lonely there on your Christmas cheeseboard. Every other cheese has a partner, and blue cheese does love a date (literally, especially medjool ones). Manchego has membrillo, cheddar has apple, there will likely be grapes, lots of crackers, and this year you want something different for your blue.
I adore a brash blue cheese, as strong as you can. Hello English Stichelton! The original stilton recipe, still raw and untempered. I especially love a sweet soft and strong sheep’s blue, like French roquefort and Irish crozier blue. A good blue deserves a bold relish. Nothing ordinary, something bright, something tangy, something that can stand up to the intensity.
Cranberries have always intrigued me, but it is only this year, and this festive season particularly, that I have fully embraced them. What a brilliant little ingredient! Mouth puckeringly astringent, almost chalky on their own, almost medicinal, they soften with some heat and some fluid and release their flavour, and pop as they release (so use a high sided pan to protect from the spatter). They love an orange, juice and zest, and the aromatics of the humble bay are wonderful as a third ingredient. For sweetness I like to use maple syrup, a little savoury and very deep. You can use honey too, it will also work well.
I have made this twice already and I will make a third batch tomorrow. I have used it as a marinade, I have used it as a relish, and I know that it will make a magical toasted sandwich. It was brilliant with the melted blue cheese on toast, above. It isn’t overly sweet, more tangy, and will be great with turkey too.
Make lots! And let me know what you do with it. Enjoy.
- 300g fresh cranberries
- 1 large orange, juice and rind (or two normal oranges)
- 3 bay leaves
- 150ml maple syrup (or substitute honey, 100ml first, and more to taste)
- 75ml cider vinegar
- optional - 2 x star anise and a couple of sticks of cinnamon, if you like some spice
Put all ingredients in a pan and bring gently to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow the concoction to simmer. The cranberries will pop, don't worry about that.
Cook until the cranberries are nice and soft (15-20 minutes), add boiling water if it looks like it is drying out.
Eats very well cold, nice warm too! Remove the bay leaves (and spices if you used them) and store in sterilised jars in the fridge. Should keep well for up to 5 days, likely longer as there is vinegar and maple syrup which will preserve it well.
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