Thursday, July 9, 2009

Friday Recipes: Cherries

It's cherry season! I love, love, love cherries. I have a neighbor just down the street with a small cherry tree and I'm just dying to pluck one off and pop it in my mouth. :) I've been poking around Old Fashioned Living, and over the years Brenda has really added a lot of cherry recipes. So if you are like me, and you love everything cherry, try some of these tasty treats on for size.

Sweet Cherry Jam

Wash, pit and finely chop enough cherries to equal 4 1/2 cups. The chopping can be done in a food processor. Put cherries into saucepan and add 6 1/4 cups sugar. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil and add 1 package of powdered pectin. Return to a rolling boil, and boil 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a spoon. Ladle into sterilized canning jars filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with flat lids then screw bands tightly. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Cherry Crisp

For filling, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Toss with 5 cups fresh, pitted cherries. Place mixture in an 8 X 1 1/2 inch round baking dish.

For topping, in a mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup regular rolled oats, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in 1/4 cup margarine or butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over filling.

Bake in a 375* oven for 30-35 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden. Serve warm with ice cream if desired. Serves 6.

Quick, Fresh Sweet Cherry Pie 

1 purchased double crust piecrust for 9" pie
4 cups washed, pitted sweet cherries
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 425*. Line a 9" pie pan with bottom piecrust. Stir together sugar and flour; mix with cherries. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan. Cover with top crust which has slits cut in it; seal and flute. Brush milk over top crust and sprinkle with a couple teaspoons of sugar. Bake 35-45 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. *note be sure to place the pie pan on a cookie sheet to prevent oven spills.

Cherry tip: A fast easy way to pit cherries: hold the cherry between your thumb and index finger with stem end pointing towards a bowl and squeeze. The pit should pop out with some juice. Be sure to catch the flavorful juice to use in your recipes.

It was a bit stressful trying to keep up with everything and take care of the cherries, but it was all worth it in the end. We enjoyed luscious desserts, fresh fruit, but most importantly we were able to share our bountiful harvest!

Cherry Fruit Salad

2 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted
1 small fresh pineapple, pared and cut into segments
1 orange, peeled and cut up
1/2 small honeydew melon, cut into spears
1/4 cup toasted almond slices

1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp. orange peel

Arrange fruit on serving dish, sprinkle with almonds. Serve with dressing. Serves 4. Dressing: Combine all but peel, blend until smooth. Sprinkle with orange peel.

Double Cherry Cornmeal Tea Bread

3 tbs. dried cherries
1 1/3 c. whole grain pastry flour
2/3 c. yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. plain low fat yogurt
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 tsp. grated orange or lemon zest
1 c. fresh cherries, pitted and quartered

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 loaf pan with cooking spray. In small bowl combine the dried cherries with enough water to cover. Let sit for 10 min. or until soft. In a med. bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until blended. In another med. bowl whisk together sugar, yogurt, applesauce, butter, egg and citrus zest until well blended. Drain the dried cherries well and coarsely chop. Stir into the yogurt mixture in 2 additions, stirring just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 min. Turn onto a rack and cool completely.

Cherry Scones

1/3 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup Half and Half -- plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Soak cherries in hot water for 10 minutes and then drain and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolk, sour cream, cream and extract. Add the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Mix in the cherries and then knead the dough lightly on a floured surface just until dough can be handled. Shape dough into a ball and pat into a 6-inch circle on a greased baking sheet. Cut into six wedges and brush with beaten egg white and then sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cherry Cheese Spread

1 cup dried cherries
1 cup water
2- 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

In a small heavy pan simmer the dried cherries in water until water is reduced to about a tablespoon. Remove pan from the heat and cool. In a medium sized bowl, beat the remaining ingredients together with the cherries and water once they have cooled. Serve with scones or crackers.

Cherry Bread Puddings with Maple Glaze

Your guest will feel truly pampered when they are served their own tiny bread pudding, studded with cherries and topped with a sweet maple syrup glaze. And you can make them in your muffin pan. These little treats can be baked up to four hours ahead, or served warm from the oven. (Although, in testing these at home, I had no trouble finding takers for the "leftovers" even 2 days later!)

1 sweet French baguette, a day or two old
1/2 cup dried sour cherries
2 cups whole milk (do not use low fat)
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 powdered sugar
3 TBSP. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Butter a 12-cup (non-stick) muffin pan. Slice the baguette into 24, 1/2 inch, slices. Place two slices in each muffin cup, trimming if needed to get them to sit flat in the cup. Sprinkle a few cherries around and between the slices. In a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk, sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Cook on medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the milk starts to simmer (bubbles form on the side of the pan).

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs. SLOWLY add the hot milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Strain the custard to remove any cooked egg particles and to ensure a smooth custard. If you have a large measuring cup, transfer the custard into it for easy pouring of the puddings.

Pour the custard over the bread in each muffin cup, filling the cups about half full. Pour a second time, letting the bread absorb the first pour briefly. Continue until all of the custard is evenly distributed over the 12 cups. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until the custard is set and the top of the bread is lightly browned.

While the puddings are baking, stir together the maple glaze and set aside.

Remove and let stand for 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently loosen the puddings and slide them out, inverting them onto a large plate. Top each with the glaze. Some of it will run off. Then remove the puddings to a serving platter and enjoy.

If you are interested, here's a great article on Growing Flowering Cherry Trees

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