Cranberry Port Gelée. A.T.

The older I get, the less consistently I floss.  I also worry less about butter than about sinking coastlines and the state of honeybee hives.  So much of our future is unknown.  All of it, in fact. 

So you might as well eat happily.  And this includes bringing the cranberry sauce. Life is too short to eat something congealed from a can. 

Especially if you live in New England.  And have twenty minutes to spare.

The recipe is a Canal House classic.  Mix in a few arguably unusual ingredients.  Juniper berries.  Black peppercorns.  Fortified wine.  Then cook down some native fruit and strain and chill.  And, ta da, you have a new standby.  Plus an excuse to open a bottle of port. 

So please forgive the inappropriate timing.  Quite the nerve coming to you the morning after Thanksgiving, I know.  But there was a turkey to cook. And flossing to neglect. And—as my brother and I established with our oven timeline yesterday—there’s a clear linear delineation of B.T. and A.T. 

Before Turkey.  And After Turkey.

This means Before Turkey is behind us. But we have a whole world of After Turkey yet to discover.  And in this time I suggest, at some point, you make cranberry gelée.  It’s intriguingly floral and yet not too much of a departure for the traditionalists. 

Because cranberries can exist more than once a year.   And you just might need something for your turkey sandwich today.

Cranberry Port Gelée
Adapted by Food52 and the Canal House


1 cup port
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp juniper berries
10 black peppercorns
pinch of salt
1-12 ounce bag of cranberries


In a medium saucepan, place the port, sugar, juniper, peppercorns and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cranberries and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the berries burst and soften (about 10 to 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Using a wire mesh sieve, strain the solids into a bowl. With a rubber spatula, press to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Towards the end the liquid will get thicker.  Stir the extracted thin and thick solids together.

Pour into a serving dish and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill until firm and ready to serve (at least a few hours or overnight).

Makes between 1 to 2 cups (depending on how long the cranberries are cooked)


-Red wine could also be employed in place of the port.


Buttermilk Buckwheat Beet Crepes: A Brief Tutorial

Here is what I know about about crepe making.  Do not attempt them under the following circumstances:

If you do not have a sturdy sauté pan.  (It does not have to be non-stick, but you cannot be evangelically opposed to butter.)

If you have had more than two cocktails.

If you have had any cocktail named as follows: the Boilermaker (postmodern hipster version: Dad’s Manhattan and a Rolling Rock); Wrath; Sheena Easton; anything that comes in a Scorpion Bowl.

If you are down to a single pair of knee-high orange stripped socks and are procrastinating the laundry.

If you have said, “I don’t know why I’m crying,” in the past twenty-four hours.

If you are ovulating.

If you are someone who angers easily about ovulation jokes.

If you are over thirty and have recently been asked why you aren’t married.  Give yourself two points if it was a relative.

If you have just listened to Seger’s “Turn the Page,” as covered by Metallica.

The point is crepes require your full attention.  Distractions will only complicate matters.  You must have your mental prowess. You must not be easily shaken by emotional shrapnel, housekeeping interference, or more than two fingers of whiskey.  For at least a good 30 minutes.

I know this because the day I finally nailed this recipe, I was as calm as the ocean is blue.  It took a few attempts to work out the kinks.  But it certainly didn’t help that prior efforts were on less than six hours of sleep, with laundry piling, and a plague of circling fruit flies with aspirations of biblical proportions.

Crepes can sense these sorts of things.  I swear they collapse on purpose.

But they are worth making.  For one, the recipe is vetted.  It involved a weird two weeks during which I ate beets daily.  We won’t talk about the aftereffects.  The dedication was apparent.

But these are simply beautiful.  They are fuchsia-colored with black buckwheat specks.  They don’t taste particularly beet-y, but they have a slight lingering earthiness and resilient chew. The buttermilk lends its tang and all of this taken together nearly threatens sensory overload, until you remember that you are eating a crepe.

Never mind the pink. Actually, totally mind the pink.  The pink is the point. Never mind everything else.

Buttermilk Buckwheat Beet Crepes


1 medium-large beet (about 3-inches), cooked and peeled
1 cup buttermilk (have extra around if your batter needs a little thinning, see below)
1/3 cup buckwheat flour, sifted
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for greasing the pan
scant ½ tsp kosher salt


Puree the beet in food processor, thinning it out with a little water (about ¼ cup) until the mixture starts to loosen slightly.  Using a wire mesh strainer, separate out the pulp; reserve the solids for another use.  You should get about 1/3 cup of liquid.  Pour the beet juice into a measuring cup.  If it’s just a little shy of 1/3 cup, simply add a bit more buttermilk than called for: you’ll need 1-1/3 cups total liquid between the juice and the buttermilk.

In a medium bowl, combine the liquid with the flours, sugar, eggs, melted butter, and salt; whisk together.  Let the batter sit for an hour (this is important).

When you are ready to prepare the crepes, heat a 9-inch sauté pan on medium-high heat. Butter the pan, discarding any pooling fat.  Pick the pan up and pour 1/3 cup of crepe batter in the center of the pan and quickly swirl it with your wrist to evenly distribute the batter.  This will probably take a few crepes to get the hang of it. 

The crepe will cook for about 30 to 60 seconds (until it starts to look dry to the touch on the top side).  Using a rubber spatula, gently flip the crepe and cook for another 15 to 30 seconds.

Re-butter the pan, as needed (I did about every other crepe, wiping out the excess butter). Repeat until the batter is gone. 

Makes about 10 crepes

-Buttermilk provides a nice tang but it is a bit tricky to work with because brands have varying consistencies and some can make the batter a little thick.  If you want to avoid this altogether, just use milk. Ultimately, your crepe batter should be the texture of cream.  (I’ve thinned it out with a little water in a pinch, but it should also settle as it sits.)  Which reminds me: don’t neglect letting the batter sit, the crepes are easier to handle and hold together much better after resting. And hang tight, the first few crepes are typically troublemakers. 

-The crepes will last about four days in the fridge.  Or you can freeze them between pieces of parchment or wax paper for longer.

-To cook beets, I roast them in foil with some olive oil and salt at 425 degrees until they’re knife-tender.