28 November 2011

Cranberry Haupia

I make cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving.  It is a really easy dish to make. Throw sugar and water in a pot with cranberries, and boil it until the cranberries pop.  Squish the heck out of the mixture while it's heating, and the skins will mix in and add nicely to the flavour.  Chill overnight.

Traditionally, I make three sauces.  The first is a spiced sauce.  To the cranberries, I add cinnamon and nutmeg.  It's a big hit.  The second is a drunken sauce.  In this, I use some sort of liquor - this year, I used Southern Comfort, but in years past it's been brandy or sherry - in place of some of the water.  Both turned out fantastic this year.

In a normal year, my third sauce is a traditional, with just the three core ingredients, with a little orange juice mixed in.  However, this year, I decided to try something different.  For I had cans of coconut milk, which I was going to use to make haupia.  Haupia, for those not familiar, is a traditional Hawaiian luau dessert, made from coconut milk, sugar, and arrowroot or cornstarch.  I made a test batch of this, and it turned out really good - a mild dessert, with a good coconut flavour.  When it is chilled, the consistency is stiff enough that it can be cut and eaten like a bar, if it is chilled thin enough.

And so, I stared at the ingredient lists for haupia and cranberry sauce.  And I looked at the extra coconut milk sitting on my kitchen counter.  And thought - hey, they are prepared similarly; why not do them both AT THE SAME TIME?  So, I did.

Biggest hit of Thanksgiving. Apparently, cranberry and coconut match extremely well together.

So, without further ado, my recipe. Disclaimer: I'm still tinkering with it a little bit. Also, the recipe is mine. No one else out there has done this. Please don't publish it without asking me first.  You can share this blog post, of course.

Cranberry Haupia

1 can coconut milk 
1 bag (12oz) fresh cranberries
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Add water and 1 cup of sugar to a large saucepan.  Add cranberries and bring to a boil. When the cranberries start to pop, add the rest of the sugar, the coconut milk, and the cornstarch. Reduce to medium heat, so the cranberries keep popping.  Continue stirring and mashing the entire mixture.

Eventually, the entire mixture will take on a smooth consistency, but you still want it to be a little watery, just short of pudding.  When it has done so - and it will have reduced significantly by this point, remove heat, transfer the mixture to a refrigerator-friendly container, and chill overnight.

It is just that simple.  Give it a whirl. And try other fruits in it as well. I'm curious as to how yours turns out.

04 November 2011

Several of the Things I Love About Canada

When I was 15, I wrote an essay for my English class.  I had just returned from a trip to Canada - Oshawa, Ontario, as I recall - and was really wowwed all around by the country and how wonderful it was.  This was not my first trip to Canada - my grandfather lived in Niagara Falls, NY, so a trip over the border was second nature to me - but it was the first one I wrote about.