Nov 15, 2016

The Little Berries That Could!

Who doesn't love fresh cranberries, especially during the Holidays. They are usually available from October through December, even here in Hawaii. When you purchase fresh cranberries, you need to look for brightly colored, firm berries. Avoid bags that have brown or shriveled berries at the bottom. You can store them in their original packaging for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, or up to a year in the freezer. Be sure to rinse and discard any discolored or soft berries. 

I've written a few cranberry recipes that I like, here are a few that I hope will make your Holiday table brighter:

Christmas Coconut Scones Served with 
Cranberry Orange Macadamia Nut Butter…What Else!
This is a delicious tropical combo to eat on Christmas morning. Wait until your family sees what you've made for them… this could be the best Christmas gift you've given! Serve with heated apple cider with a cinnamon stick in each cup.

Christmas Coconut Scones
These scones are very easy to make, and are flaky and moist on the inside, perfect for kids, adults, and Santa.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 6-8 pieces
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
approximately 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with Silpat baking mat or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add butter and toss to coat. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very coarse sand. A few larger bits are ok, but most should be smaller than a pea. Stir in shredded coconut. Add in about 1/3 cup of coconut milk and stir into dough with a fork. Add remaining coconut milk as needed until dough comes together into a shaggy ball. Knead lightly with your hand until dough is smooth. Divide dough into two balls and press each into a disc about 1/2-inch thick on prepared baking sheet. Cut each disc into quarters and separate slightly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until scones are a light golden brown on top, but check the bottoms as well so they don't burn. Cool on a wire rack before serving with a pat of Cranberry Orange Macadamia Nut Butter, or your favorite jam, like Mango-Lime Marmalade, or Lilikoi Butter.
Makes 8 scones.

Note: Scones are best eaten the day they're baked. To work ahead, freeze unbaked scones in a single layer, then store in a zip-top bag, up to 2 months.

Cranberry Orange Macadamia Nut Butter
This is what is known as a "compound butter". Basically it's butter mixed with other ingredients (sweet or savory) to enhance the flavor of another dish. The ingredients vary depending on what you are trying to enhance, sort of like a sauce varies. In this case, we have a butter that tastes of the Holidays, and not overly sweet. A compound butter that enhances the flavor of muffins, waffles, biscuits, etc. It's perfect spread on coconut scones on Christmas morning.

1 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup finely chopped sweetened dried cranberries, divided
3 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/3 cup macadamia nuts, chopped & toasted

In a small bowl combine butter, 2 tablespoons chopped cranberries, orange zest, juice, salt
and powdered sugar.

On a flat surface place a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper. Spoon butter mixture into a 1-1/2-inch thick log on the paper.

Fold 1 edge of paper over the butter mixture and wrap or tuck it under the butter mixture. Smooth sides into an even log. Twist ends of paper in opposite directions to seal. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove parchment paper and roll the butter log in remaining chopped cranberries and toasted macadamia nuts. The cranberries and nuts stick better if you let the butter soften for 15-20 minutes. Reroll butter log in parchment paper and seal ends. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Slice into pats to serve.

Note: Instead of rolling a compound butter in parchment paper, you can be put the butter mixture in small ramekins the refrigerate until ready to use.

Edamame Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
4 cups cooked wild rice
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 cups shelled cooked edamame, thawed if frozen
2 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place the almonds in a medium frying pan over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden brown (do not let the nuts burn), about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Add the sesame seeds to the pan and toast, stirring often, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the almonds.

Add the rice, scallions, edamame, carrots, and cranberries to the bowl with the almonds and sesame seeds and toss to combine.

Whisk the olive oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Drizzle over the rice mixture and toss to combine. Taste and season as needed with more salt, pepper, and vinegar. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Cranberry, Watercress Salad with Toasted Almonds and Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
Ingredients for salad:
2 large bunches watercress, hand-torn, remove stems
1 cup almonds, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice

Ingredients for honey balsamic vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soften cranberries by adding orange juice, then microwave for 1 minute, let cool.

Make a quick vinaigrette by whisking together the mustard, honey, vinegar, oil, and salt and pepper (or throw the ingredients into a small jar with a lid, cover, and shake). Pour the vinaigrette over the watercress and toss to coat. Garnish with the toasted slivered almonds and cranberries. Makes 4 servings.

Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing 
with Bacon & Portuguese Sausage
6 strips bacon, diced
1 12 ounce Portuguese sausage, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1⁄4 pound ground pork
1 yellow onion, diced
2 large celery ribs, diced
1⁄2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup green onions, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
9x13 pan cornbread, diced 1/2 inch and toasted (see note below)
1⁄4 pound butter
3 cups turkey broth or chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon, sausage and ground pork. When cooked through, add the onion and celery. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the parsley, green onions, garlic, cranberries, and poultry seasoning. Add cooked ingredients (fat and all) to the diced cornbread and gently mix everything together. Moisten the mixture with butter and broth to taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until heated through. Makes 8 servings.

Note: I usually make my easy Iron Skillet Cornbread recipe a couple of days ahead of time for this recipe to give it a chance to dry out a little.

You're My Honey Muffin
These holiday honey muffins are a wonderful combination of flavors, perfect for gifts, or just eaten Christmas morning with a mug of hot honey apple cider.

1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3 Tablespoons bourbon (I use Maker's Mark)

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

5 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup strong coffee
1 teaspoon orange rind, grated with a microplane

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Ingredients for Cinnamon Honey Buttercream Frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, left at room temperature for 15 minutes
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk, if needed

Special equipment:
2- 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners

Preheat oven to 325°. In a small bowl, soak the cranberries in the bourbon and set aside. Line 2- 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until thick. Whisk together the honey, coffee and orange rind and slowly stir it into the egg yolk mixture. Stir in the cranberries, bourbon and pecans. Fold in the flour mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into the batter. Spoon into muffin cups until each is about 2/3 full. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool pans on a wire rack about 10 minutes. Remove the honey muffins from the pans and cool completely.

Cinnamon Honey Buttercream Frosting: 
Cream butter and shortening until fluffy. Add honey and cinnamon and blend. Slowly add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and beat for about 3-5 minutes, until desired consistency. If it gets too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk. If too runny, add a little bit more powdered sugar. Pipe or spread on top of each muffin. Note: This is a really rich frosting, so if you like it less sweet, I recommend just a tiny amount on each muffin. Makes 24 honey muffins.

Starfruit Cranberry Sauce
This recipe makes for a festive Holiday side dish, especially at Thanksgiving, served with roast turkey. Fresh starfruit is usually available in October and November here on Moloka'i. Make sure everyone gets a star with their cranberries when served.
Starfruit Cranberry Sauce
Click on photo to view larger

1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4-5 ripe starfruit, depending on size
1 orange, zest grated and juiced
1 lemon or lime, zest grated and juiced
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cook the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and ginger in a saucepan over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Wash and wipe the starfruit dry. Remove the hard ridge on the fruit with a potato peeler, then cut into 3/8-inch star-shaped pieces. Remove the seeds, which are hard like apple seeds. Add the starfruit slices, zests, and juices and cook for about 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, and serve chilled. Makes 4 cups. Note: You can double this recipe to make about 3 quarts. I like to put them up in canning jars and give them to friends over the Thanksgiving holidays.

Poached Pears In Cranberry Sauce
1 quart (4 cups) cranberry juice cocktail
1 cup light corn syrup
8 slices (1/4-inch thick) unpeeled fresh ginger
2 cinnamon sticks (2 to 3 inches)
8 slightly under-ripe Bosc pears

Combine cranberry juice, corn syrup, ginger and cinnamon sticks in heavy 4-quart saucepan; bring to a boil. While mixture is coming to a boil, peel, half, and core pears. Add to syrup mixture in saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until pears are tender. With slotted spoon transfer pears to shallow serving dish. Remove ginger and cinnamon sticks. Discard all but 2 cups syrup in saucepan. Bring to boil; boil 10 to 12 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly. Spoon sauce over pears. Serve with sweetened whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

Cranberry Kiss
1 1/2 ounce vodka (I like Tito's vodka from Molokai Wines and Spirits)
1 1/2 ounce Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Drink, chilled
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Lime twist for garnish

Combine all ingredients, add ice, stir or shake and strain into a martini glass garnished with a twist of lime.

Makes 1 serving.

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