By Peter Piazza –
One of the holiday rituals in our family was gathering at our maternal grandparents’ home in Lyme, New Hampshire for big family celebratory meals. The centerpiece of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner was the presentation of a sweet-tart dish called Winter Strawberry made by my grandmother from a special family recipe. It was a chilled compote of brilliant color meant to accompany turkey or whatever other meat was being served. When the designated family member would come through into the dining room bearing a bowl of this delicacy, a buzz would arise from the seated assembled guests, “ah, the Winter Strawberry is here, pass it around.”
I must have been past the age of seven when I discerned that there was not a single strawberry in Winter Strawberry. The main ingredients are fresh chopped apples and fresh raw cranberries. The name must have come from the color or maybe it was some form of dry New England humor. No one in the family could tell me. But, it tasted delicious and for many years I looked forward to enjoying Winter Strawberry in the snug and loving home of my grandparents. When they passed on, my mother became the family hostess and she continued the tradition of making and serving Winter Strawberry.
These days, I prepare Winter Strawberry, usually at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas. I’ve never thought seriously about changing the name even though it doesn’t describe the dish and there are probably catchy titles I could apply to the concoction. One might be the Two-Week Wonder because although Winter Strawberry takes no time to compose, you have to let it rest in the refrigerator for two weeks before serving – to, as Tom Sawyer so aptly put it, let the flavors swap around.
Here’s the recipe. Whether you call it Winter Strawberry or something else entirely, it’s a side dish you and your guests will probably remember as being one of the highlights of the holiday meal. Tell them it’s an old family recipe.
2 cups chopped fresh raw cranberries
2 cups chopped crisp red apples (not peeled)
1 cup crushed pineapple (canned)
1 cup sugar
Mix ingredients well. Pour into a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate for two weeks, stirring every few days so that the flavors can properly swap around. Serve chilled.