Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tip 17: See red

We had a very cherry Sunday. The trees are laden with the little red bombs, and we pitted three flats in an evening, with lots of talk and tea. Our fruit is sweet enough to eat off the tree, but definitely needs sugar to create dessert fare.

Problem was, I had no sugar. No refined sugar that is, which every recipe called for. So I improvised, using raw sugar to make flavored simple syrups that sweetened our goods just enough to eliminate pucker. They also added a subtle flavoring that infused the cherries, taking them to dimensions which previously I hadn't prodded them to ascending. I used mint to infuse one simple syrup, from the patch that grows wild in our yard, and lemongrass frozen from last year's monster plant to flavor the other. Any herbs will do; I particularly have a hankering to try a cherry-thyme thingy. That is a technical term.

Anyway, the more cherries the better. If you know any good recipes, share. Cherries are being touted as the new American superfood, claiming to help arthritis and gout, lower weight and reduce factors for heart disease and diabetes. And cherries supposedly contain melatonin, which helps regulate sleep, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process. My mom and aunt both quaff cherry juice daily, and say it helps their joints.

And the number one reason to ingest cherries: they taste good.

Cherry Mint compote

2 cups cherries, pitted
handful of mint leaves, shredded
1/2 cup mint simple syrup, below
2 teaspoons cornsyrup

for the simple syrup:
1 cup water
1/2 cup raw sugar

2 stalks mint, quartered

Make the simple syrup: combine ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes very slightly. Let cool on stove. Strain mint out and bottle.

In a separate pan, combine cherries, simple syrup and mint. Cook until cherries are soft and syrupy, about 20 minutes on low. Take some syrup and stir in 1 teaspoon of cornstarch until smooth. Add back to cherry sauce and let simmer. Repeat if not thick enough.

Serve with lamb or salmon. Or both.

Cherry Lemongrass Gelato

2 cups frozen cherries, pitted
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup lemongrass syrup

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 stalk of lemongrass

for the lemongrass syrup: combine ingredients in saucepan and boil. Off heat and simmer 15 minutes very slightly. Let cool on stove. Strain off lemongrass.

In the Vitamix, combine frozen cherries and lemongrass syrup and blend until smooth. Add milk and blend. Freeze in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's directions. The mixture made more than the freezer held, so we served it as a smoothie. Also a good choice.



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