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Cook by the Book: Very Cranberry

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We are just coming up on the end of fresh cranberry season. But if you're like me, you probably have a bag or two stashed away in your freezer. On the other hand, if you're the type who thinks cranberries are just for Thanksgiving, think again.

Very Cranberry is a slim volume dedicated to broadening your cranberry horizons. Sure there are the traditional cranberry recipe like Classic Cranberry Muffins and Cranberry Nut Bread but how about Crabcakes with Cranberry Lemon Aioli? Or Goat Cheese Tart with Cranberry-Onion Confit?

This book has a little bit of everything, salads and starters, side dishes, entrees, holiday relishes and gifts, breads and other baked goods and of course, desserts. The recipes are well-written, fairly easy and use widely available ingredients.

Author Jennifer Trainer Thompson has written the perfect book for cranberry lovers. The introduction shares the history of cranberries in the US and how cranberries were used by Native Americans. Criticisms? The book will whet your appetite with only 40 recipes and there could have been a bit more about the health properties. But for $5.95, it's a bargain and would make a terrific gift with perhaps a batch of Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti?

Braised Lamb Shanks with Sweet Garlic and Cranberry Jus
These lamb shanks are complemented by roasted Yukon Gold potatoes


1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 (1 pound) lamb shanks
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup port
2 cups beef stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine he cranberries, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened.
Remove from the heat and set aside.

Pat the lamb shanks dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the lamb and sear on all sides browning well, about 8 minutes. Remove the shanks and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Stir in the port, stock, garlic, rosemary and cranberry mixture. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the lamb shanks, cover and braise in the oven for 1 hour. Turn the shanks over and continue cooking for 1 hour longer. Remove the lamb shanks from the oven. Transfer to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Transfer the Dutch oven to the stove top. Bring the braising liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk in the butter. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid is slightly reduced. Serve the lamb shanks topped with jus. Serves 2.

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