Life beyond just a bowl of cherries

July 17, 1994|By Chicago Tribune

Eating cherries out of hand is one of summer's great pleasures. But if you find you have enough cherries, try them in one of the following recipes. And if you locate a real bargain price on cherries, consider freezing them for future use.

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Cherries in Amaretto Sour Cream, Hazelnut Sugar

Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds Bing or other sweet cherries, with stems on

1/2 pint sour cream or light sour cream

3 to 4 tablespoons amaretto liqueur

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons hazelnuts, chopped and lightly toasted

Rinse the cherries and place in a shallow bowl. Combine sour cream and amaretto in a small serving bowl. Combine the sugar and nuts in another bowl. To serve, allow guests to hold cherries by the stem and dunk first in sour cream then in sugar.

(This recipe is adapted from "Dungeness Crabs and Blackberry Cobblers," by Janie Hibler.)

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This recipe, from the Northwest Cherry Growers, is a summery side dish for grilled meat or poultry, especially duck.

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Black-Bean Cherry Relish

Makes 4 cups

1 1/2 cups pitted sweet cherries, chopped

1 can (16 ounces) black beans, rinsed, drained

1 small yellow bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped Anaheim or poblano pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

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Cherry Preserves

Makes 3 1/2 pints

3 cups pitted sweet cherries, coarsely chopped

1 cup water

1/4 cup powdered pectin

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional

Combine cherries, water, pectin and lemon juice in a 4-quart microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; cook in microwave on high (100 percent) power until mixture reaches a boil, 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir in sugar and almond extract. Cover; return to the boil and cook 3 minutes after the boil is reached. Stir and return to microwave uncovered. Cook about 3 minutes.

Remove from oven and remove foam from top if necessary. Pour hot preserves into hot, sterilized jars,

leaving 1/4 -inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath or store in the refrigerator or freezer.

(Adapted from the "Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning and Freezing.")

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If you don't have individual ramekins, bake the cobbler 20 minutes in an 8-inch square baking pan.

Individual Cherry Cobblers

Makes 6 servings

1 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 pound fresh sweet cherries, pitted

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 cup whipping cream, whipped, or amaretto sour cream (above recipe) for serving

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter six 12-ounce ramekins.

Combine water and cornstarch in a 2-quart saucepan. Add cherries, lemon rind, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and becomes clear, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Divide among the ramekins and set aside.

Combine flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder, pinch of salt, butter, egg and milk in a small bowl or a food processor; mix just until combined. Spoon batter over the cherries and bake until crust is golden, 20 minutes. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or sour cream.

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