of the moment: cherries

Strawberry season just flew right by me – as I suppose it does every year.  Even though I had great plans for strawberry icebox cake and strawberries with sabayon and strawberry ice cream, I didn’t do anything fancy with the strawberries that I ate: just cut in half, sprinkled with a small spoon of sugar and a spoon of balsamic and ladled over vanilla ice cream or plain yogurt.  Cherries came right after and I was doing the same thing:

And then, I remembered clafouti.  I remembered clafouti and it came out of my mouth as a little song (think the Swiss yodel of Ricola).  So while I am loath to turn on the oven during a heatwave, I had a craving to quell.

Cherry Clafoutifrom The Gourmet Cookbook

  • 1 1/4 pounds cherries (sour cherries if you have them)
  • 1/2 c plus 1 T granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 c milk (recipe calls for whole, I usually use 1 or 2%)
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 T kirsch
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/8 t almond extract

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish (I usually forget to do this and it comes out alright).

Toss cherries with 1 T sugar and spread evenly in baking dish.

Combine eggs, milk, flour, salt, butter, kirsch, extracts and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a blender and blend until smooth (or, whisk vigorously).  Pour batter over cherries.

Bake clafouti until puffed and golden, 35 to 45  minutes.

Cool slightly on a rack (clafouti will sink as it cools) and serve warm, or room temperature.

*I usually halve the sugar and find that this eggy cake still tastes de-lish.

*I make this the traditional (and easier) French way and don’t pit the cherries.  Just warn everyone at the table!

Finished result will look something like this:

While many feel it’s best at room temperature, I cannot wait that long.  Remember that those cherries will still be 300 degrees or so even when you think the cake is cool enough.  Trust me.

***

I’m also making cherry jam this season.  I’m not into canning – just not that brave – so I make refrigerator jam.  It always lasts longer than the recipe says and that’s long enough for me.   In the past I’ve followed David Lebovitz’s No Recipe Cherry Jam, but this year I was inspired by Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times Magazine on stone fruit.

Mark Bittman’s The Family Stone / In a Saucepan / Jam

  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 1/2 pounds halved fruit (must remove pits or pay a lot of dental bills)

Put all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil.  When sugar dissolves, reduce heat and cook until liquid is thick and clear; stir frequently until it darkens, 15-20 minutes.  Cool completely and serve (baguette, butter & jam anyone?).

It’s as easy as that – which is why I consider that man on a higher plane.

***

Up next: blueberries.  Yum.

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