Stretching The Tastebuds

Probably the most unique holiday gathering I’ve attended this year was a combo holiday and going away party for my yoga class. The teacher, Mary Lavi, is originally from Israel and has been living in Windom while her husband was helping to build a power plant. At the end of the month, they are moving on, first returning to Israel for a couple of months before moving to Las Vegas for another project.

At our small gathering, there was an abundance of well wishes for Mary as well as an abundance of food. Mary shared the Jewish tradition of lighting candles for Hanukkah and some foods from her home region, including hummus and baba ghanoush.

Although it wasn’t an Israeli offering, another member of the class, Margaret Hurlbut-Vosburgh, also introduced many of us to a new taste sensation — cranberry chutney, which she served atop a brie round. It’s quite similar to the recipe that Sue Doeden shared in her All About Food column in the Daily Globe, but perhaps a little simpler to put together.

The chutney by itself would also make a good substitution for cranberry sauce on the holiday dinner table.

Cranberry Chutney

In a 1-quart saucepan, combine 1 cup fresh or dried cranberries, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons water. 2 teaspoons finely chopped gingerroot, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered about 20 minutes stirring frequently, until thickened. Cool slightly. Chutney will thicken as it stands.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brush ovenproof plate with vegetable oil. Place one 8-ounce unpeeled Brie cheese round on center of plate. Bake, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutesm or until cheese is soft and partially melted.

Spoon half of the chutney over cheese. Serve with French bread pieces or crackers. Spoon remaining chutney onto cheese as needed.