Salsa is a perfect way to enjoy fresh cherries - any
sweet variety or tart if you can find them. The salsa
is delicious with chips and also good with chicken, or
as a cranberry substitute with turkey.
American South, we have plenty of peaches, strawberries,
blueberries and figs, often in our own backyard.
not so much.
that does not — should not — stop us from loving the
sweet little fruit that appears in stores and markets every
summer. Ripe for popping, cherries are a delicious, healthy
snack loaded with all kinds of vitamins, nutrients and
things that are good for us.
perfectly honest, I think cherries are the bomb.
summer, I went from eating cherries out of hand to cooking
with them, and even making drinks out of them. I stirred
sweet Bing cherries into cobblers (with or without peaches
and other fruit). I crushed them in a glass, added bourbon,
a generous glug or two of ginger ale and a few drops of
orange bitters, creating a bright red summer sipper that
accentuated the sweetness of the cherries and the smoky
allure of the whiskey.
on a trip to Door County, Wis., I tasted my first fresh tart
cherry, and my world changed.
County, a picturesque peninsula that juts into Lake
Michigan, is known for its sour Montmorency cherries:
ruby-red gems that zing with a haunting complexity redolent
of wine and spice. So lovely and so petite, so delicate in
their demeanor, they make the sweet cherries we import from
Washington, California and Oregon seem downright common.
at Seaquist Orchards just outside Sister Bay, Wis., that I
sampled my first Montmorency and met up with cherry baron
Dale Seaquist, who gave me a tour of his farm and told me
about the lady visitor who once inquired: "When do
these cherries go ‘bing’?" (Cymbal crash.)
strapping, garrulous Wisconsinite, Seaquist, who had a
vintage cherry-red Studebaker in the back of his warehouse
with a "do not touch" sign on the window and wore
a red-and-white-check shirt, is the best mouthpiece the Door
County cherry industry could hope for.
only makes sense that most cherry pies are made from tart
cherries, Seaquist said, because they are smaller. Ergo: You
can pack more cherries into the pastry and every bite. And
who doesn’t want more cherries?
Seaquist Orchards’ market, I discovered fresh-baked cherry
pies and house-made cherry fudge, cherry jam and cherry
salsa, cherry juice and cherry cider, dried cherries, frozen
cherries, fresh cherries. And I developed a serious case of
Parador, a tapas restaurant in the town of Egg Harbor, I had
charcuterie paired with Door County cherry jam. At
109-year-old Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor in
Ephraim, I inhaled a vanilla ice cream sundae loaded with
hot fudge sauce, Door County cherries, whipped cream and
pecans. At what may be America’s cutest pie shop, Sweetie
Pies in Fish Creek, I chatted with owner Cathy Mazurek and
wolfed down a slice of her peach-and-cherry pie and got some
cherry bars to go.
in Sister Bay, at Fred & Fuzzy’s Waterfront Bar &
Grill, I slurped a wonderfully sweet-tart Door County cherry
margarita. And at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek, I had
what "Good Morning America" viewers voted the best
breakfast in the nation back in 2010. That would be the inn’s
Cherry-Stuffed French Toast: slices of egg bread with
pockets of Wisconsin cream cheese and Door County cherries,
topped with real maple syrup. Gracious goodness, that stuff
ever get to Door County, you won’t forget those cherries.
fresh tart cherries of any kind are not to be found in some
cities, such as Atlanta, though you can find sour cherries
in canned pie filling and dried.
Seaquist told me, these juicy little Midwestern Montmorencys
and other tart varieties are a challenge to ship. However,
you may order dried Montmorencys from any number of sources,
and they are great for cookies, bars, granola, etc. They are
good in salads (how about some cherry-pecan sal?) and may be
chopped and added to salsas, relishes and chutneys.
terrific luck with the dried and frozen Montmorencys I
ordered from Friske Orchards in the neighboring state of
Michigan, the nation’s No. 1 state for tart cherries. As
research for this story, I made an amazing meat loaf studded
with Montmorencys and slathered with a catsup-y cherry
sauce. I’m saving the rest for cherry pies and White Gull’s
killer French toast.
here’s the thing about cooking with cherries. They are
versatile. So if you can’t find sour, most sweet varieties
work just fine, though might add a little lemon juice or
zest to impart tartness. After heating up the kitchen to
make cherry baked goods, I’ve decided that cold cherry
treats — like ice creams, smoothies, cocktails and salsa
— are the way to go in this hot summer season.
be plenty of time for cherry baking this fall and winter.
Right now, it’s time for a pick-me-up, so I think I’ll
dump some cherries, bananas and nonfat yogurt in the blender
and slurp my troubles away.
are recipes for a cool cherry salsa, a cherry-and-apricot
clafoutis and cherry-bourbon ice cream. To pit cherries for
the clafoutis, just poke the stem end with a wooden
chopstick, and the pit should pop out.
is a perfect way to enjoy fresh sweet cherries (or tart, if
you can find them) as a summer snack with tortilla chips.
Basil adds a hint of anise to the relish. But feel free to
create your own recipe, using mint, cilantro, scallions, hot
sauce or whatever mild or hot peppers you have on hand. Lime
juice may be used in place of lemon. The salsa keeps well in
the refrigerator, and would be delicious with grilled meats,
chicken or as a stand-in for cranberries with turkey.
cups stemmed, pitted and chopped cherries (may use sweet or
cup chopped onion (may use white, yellow or red)
of one small lemon
tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
tablespoon finely minced jalapeño pepper, seeds and stem
removed (may use other chiles of choice, such as Serrano or
teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
tablespoons chopped sweet basil (may use Thai basil)
the cherries, onion, lemon zest and juice, jalapeno,
Worcestershire sauce and salt in a small bowl and mix well.
Taste and adjust seasonings. (If using tart cherries, you
may want to add a bit of sugar; start with 1 teaspoon, then
more as needed.) Cover and chill for at least one hour
before serving. Just before serving, stir in chopped basil.
Makes: Almost 2 cups.
1-tablespoon serving: 5 calories (percent of calories from
fat, 4), trace protein, 1 g carbohydrates, trace fiber,
trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 36 mg sodium.
AND APRICOT CLAFOUTIS
classic French flan is a quick and easy way to show off
summer fruit, especially sweet cherries. In the French
region of Limousin, black cherries were traditionally left
unpitted because the stone was said to enhance flavor. Try
that at your own peril. If you don’t want to use apricots,
try peaches. Or omit altogether and use a full pound of
cherries. Leftovers are good for breakfast.
pound sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
apricots, pitted and halved
cup granulated sugar, divided
tablespoon kirsch or rum (optional)
for greasing pan
tablespoon vanilla extract
cup all-purpose flour
sugar for dusting (optional)
cherries and apricots in a medium bowl and top with sugar
and kirsch or rum (if using). Toss well to coat and allow to
sit for 30 minutes. Grease a 9 1/2- or 10-inch tart pan or
glass pie plate with butter.
the fruit over a bowl, reserving liquid, and arrange the
fruit in the baking dish.
the reserved fruit syrup, milk, remaining 1/3 cup of sugar,
eggs, vanilla extract and flour in the bowl of a blender.
Mix at highest speed for 1 minute; then pour in the baking
dish. (If you don’t have a blender, beat the milk, eggs
and vanilla extract until just mixed; add flour and mix
until smooth and frothy.)
in a 350-degree oven until the clafoutis is firmly set at
the center and nicely browned, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. (A
toothpick or knife inserted at the center should come out
clean). The clafoutis will puff up, then settle as it cools.
Allow to cool briefly, about 15 minutes. Slice into wedges
and serve. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar if desired.
serving, based on 6: 241 calories (percent of calories from
fat, 17), 6 g protein, 43 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4 g
fat (2 g saturated), 112 mg cholesterol, 56 mg sodium.
and smoky sweet bourbon are a heavenly marriage, especially
when folded into this rich vanilla custard. You may also use
rum or brandy. Chocolate sauce or shavings would be a nice
the cherry-bourbon sauce
cups halved pitted cherries
the vanilla ice cream
cups heavy cream
cup whole milk
cup granulated sugar, divided
pinch of kosher salt
vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
large egg yolks
make the sauce: Place pitted cherries, sugar, and 1
tablespoon water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat,
stirring occasionally, until syrupy, 4-5 minutes. Remove
from heat. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Stir in
bourbon. Cover and chill until to ready to make ice cream.
make the ice cream: Combine heavy cream, whole milk, 1/4 cup
granulated sugar and a pinch of kosher salt in a medium
saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape in seeds;
add pod (or use vanilla extract). Bring mixture just to a
simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. If
using vanilla bean, cover; let sit 30 minutes.
5 large egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium
bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup
warm cream mixture. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining cream
mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until
thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, 2-3 minutes. Strain
custard into a medium bowl set over a bowl of ice water.
Place vanilla bean back in the custard. Let cool, stirring
occasionally. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or
ready to make the ice cream, fish the vanilla bean out of
the custard and discard. Freeze in an ice cream maker
according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an
airtight container, and fold in cherry-bourbon sauce. Cover
and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
Makes: About 1 quart
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine, August 2013
1/2-cup serving: 309 calories (percent of calories from fat,
63), 4 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, trace fiber, 21 g fat
(12 g saturated), 200 mg cholesterol, 59 mg sodium.