Cranberry Raisin Pie
At first, I thought that I was a little late to the party, posting a cranberry recipe after Thanksgiving had passed. Then I realized that now may be the actual best time to post a cranberry recipe since after Thanksgiving there is usually a glut of cranberries on the market, and prices drop after the Thanksgiving. Well, at least in America.
I was fortunate because although you can find fresh cranberries in Paris around Thanksgiving (for les Américains, and with a little searching), they’re very costly. And even after the fête, they don’t discount them since the sellers don’t quite realize that the stress of having to find fresh cranberries is not longer an issue once Thanksgiving has passed. And most of us tend to forget about them. However I love cranberries and hoard them whenever I find them at a reasonable price.
Like last year, as a fluke, I was at a supermarket and saw baskets for only €1 each, about $1.25. (Marked down from €6 each, or — gulp — $9 a basket.) So I swooped down, and bought them all. And for the holidays this year, I had a freezerload of fresh cranberries at my disposal.
A few weeks ago, a reader contacted me, asking whatever happened to the cranberry-raisin pie recipe on my blog. I did a search and, indeed, the recipe was gone. When I moved the site to a real blogging platform around 2004, the old pages from my “blog” (which back then was simply a website that I updated as much I could, before I knew what a blog was), couldn’t be moved over. So like the proverbial dog eating someone’s homework, I could say that the internet ate it.
I searched around the Way Back Machine for posts on the earliest version of my site, to no avail. But finally found the recipe lurking in some dark corner of my computer, waiting to be re-released from an obscure file that, fortunately, I’d saved.
This recipe is from Marion Cunningham, who was responsible for revising and updating The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, an American classic that was too heavy to lug to France. The recipe is as easy as – well…pie. And while that’s a commonly used expression, this time I really mean it. There’s no slicing or peeling; you simply mix up some cranberries and raisins, enclose them in two sheets of pie pastry, and then bake it until the juices thicken. And then, ya got pie.
Once done, the filling has the tart, tangy taste of cranberries with little nuggets of sweet raisins, along with a hint of orange flavor, thanks to a generous splash of orange liqueur and zest. Unfortunately, I can’t show you what it’s like inside for two reasons.
One, is that the nightfall hits Paris around 5pm this time of the year, and we are plunged into darkness, which isn’t my fault. But the other reason, which is my fault, is that I brought this pie to a dinner party in Paris. Yes, it survived crossing town on a rush-hour métro. (And next time, I’m going to use one of these nifty cake and pie carriers a young woman is making in Paris, who gave me one at a recent booksigning – even though no one knows what “pie” is in Paris.)
But, silly me, I brought my camera to dinner and when dessert was ready to serve, it wasn’t the Champagne (‘Tis the season!) and Chablis kicking in, but it was me (ma faute), who forgot to click the battery into his camera before leaving home. (I was so concerned about the pie on the métro since I’ve had so many jostle-related accidents in the past.) So you don’t get a shot of the inside, but imagine an almost jam-like filling, thick and juicy.
Almost Obligatory is a scoop of ice cream alongside the pie. I served this one with cinnamon ice cream, although there’s no shame in pairing it with good ol’ vanilla ice cream. I do feel a bit of shame for forgetting my camera’s battery, but on the other hand, I saved an old post with a recipe from extinction. Plus I got to make one of my favorite holiday desserts of all time all over again. And best of all, at the party, one of my French friends, who had never had cranberry pie before, liked it so much that he had two generous slices and was eyeing the rest of the pie, secretly wanting a third. Thankfully, a friend brought me a jumbo bag of fresh cranberries last week to refresh my stash, so I’ll be able to make this pie next year. (Now that I’ve got the recipe, again.)