Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries

pot of cherriesweb

My plan for this week’s television segment was sidelined when I got an email from Clarkdale Fruit Farms announcing that the orchard’s cherry crop had come in. I LOVE cherries—and I couldn’t resist the chance to cook with them during their short but glorious local season.

My friend Michael Collins, chef at the new Mexican Fusion restaurant Ponte in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, had recently informed me that he makes gazpacho with cherries. So of course I brought him along to cook with me on Mass Appeal. Michael actually worked a lot harder than I did, but we all had a good time.

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I’m not sure I’d swear that I could taste the cherries in his soup—but whatever I tasted, it was awfully good: spicy and substantial. He was kind enough to share the recipe with me, and here it is. If you watch the video below, you’ll see that some of his quantities are subject to improvisation; I KNOW he threw in a lot more herbs and vinegar than he calls for in the recipe!

Cherry Gazpacho web

Ponte Cherry Gazpacho

Ingredients:

1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded, diced, an drained (or 2 cups canned seeded tomatoes)
1 pound pitted cherries (about a pint)
1 small red onion
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper in adobo
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cilantro or parsley
the juice of 1 lime and the zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons blanched almonds
2 tablespoons mint leaves
2 sliced pitted cherries and mint leaves for garnish

Instructions:

Place all ingredients (except the cherries and mint for garnish) in a blender. Blend well.

Chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

Serve in your favorite bowl or glass, topped with cherry slices and mint.

Serves 6 as a first course.

I prepared something very simple, a cherry cobbler, which we dubbed “Cherry Plop Pie” on the air since the topping is simply plopped on. The cherries looked gorgeous in this recipe, and the cobber or pie or whatever you want to call it was well received.

Thanks to Oxo for sending me the cherry pitter I used! Yes, one does have to separate the pits manually from the cherries in a few cases, especially if one is a klutz in the kitchen like me. In general, however, this device sped up the task of making the cobbler/pie considerably—and kept the kitchen and my hands cleaner.

And thanks to Clarkdale for the Balaton cherries, which gave this dish its gorgeous color and flavor.

Cherry Cobblerweb

Cherry Cobbler (a.k.a. Cherry Plop Pie)

Ingredients:

for the fruit base:

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups pitted cherries
2 tablespoons lemon juice

for the cobbler crust:

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

for the topping:

sparkling sugar as needed

Instructions:

Begin by making the base. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a smallish nonreactive pot. Stir in the cherries and lemon juice. Cover this mixture and let it sit for a while until the cherries juice up. (Half an hour should do!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish.

Uncover the cherry mixture and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil, stirring gently, for 1 minute. Remove the fruit from the heat. Spread the cherry mixture in the prepared baking dish.

To make the crust whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter, but don’t overdo the process. You should still have tiny pieces of butter in the mixture.

Whisk together the milk and egg. Add them to the dry ingredients, and mix just until moist. Drop this mixture onto the fruit mixture, and spread it around to cover the fruit. Sprinkle sparkling sugar on the top for crunch and glow.

Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 8.

And now the video!

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6 Responses to “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries”

  1. Both recipes are wonderful, but while visual presentation is important, so is the verbal description and “plop” simply does not do justice to your heavenly cherry dessert. Admittedly the word has a semblance of accuracy, but it also conveys that the chef is both haphazard and uncaring. Unloving even. We know this is not true, so in order to whet the dessert appetite of the guests, I suggest you name the dish “ciliegie cotto in crosta di rustic” (cherries baked in a rustic crust) and insist that you were given the recipe by a dear friend’s great-grandmother, while visiting her at her villa on the Amalfi coast. Anyone who enjoys cherries for dessert, or any food in any course, will immediately know that the cherries are baked with love, since that is an essential Italian ingredient, and also an important – and treasured – ingredient in your own cooking. And love trumps presentation!

  2. tinkyweisblat says:

    OF COURSE I forgot the love! Speaking of love, I love your new recipe name. You have such class, Flaneur. Many thanks….

  3. Sharing! Love cherries… I would have loved to see everyone dancing at the end of the film… fun stuff.

  4. tinkyweisblat says:

    We DID dance a bit off camera as people noshed on the food; it was a fun day. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Grad says:

    The cherry cobbler looks wonderful. Oh that all too short cherry season! By the way, I made the strawberry chipotle sauce and it is wonderful on grilled chicken. I started basting during the last few minutes and then added a little more while the chicken was resting. I was thinking of trying it with a salsa I make: very finely diced celery, hot red chili peppers, Roma tomatoes and English cucumbers, corn kernels (Non GMO, of course), cilantro, avocado, and black beans. I usually just dress it with olive oil and lemon or lime juice, but I might fool around with the strawberry sauce. I think that touch of sweet/spicy would work well and I might leave out the chili pepper. I’ll let you know. But it is very good, so thank you for the recipe. (I might add some jalapenos to it next time).

  6. tinkyweisblat says:

    I can’t wait to hear how your experiments go! Thanks for trying the recipe, Grad.

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