Cherry season comes and goes quickly, so here are some ideas for celebrating the peak of the season. Any variety of cherry will do, like Chelan or Brooks (I like to mix them for the cherry tart)
Quick Rustic Cherry Clafoutis (French Whole Cherry Tart)
1 generous pint basket of cherries – any varietal, cleaned, stemmed, unpitted (The pits are a little awkward, but the cherries taste better with the pits – but pit them if you must)
2 Tblsp butter
1/3 cup sugar (plus 3 Tblsp)
a pinch of ground cinnamon
fine zest of 1/2 lemon
2 eggs, separated
3 Tblsp flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup non-fat yogurt (traditional ingredient – heavy cream)
powdered sugar as garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Melt the butter on medium heat and add the whole cherries with 1/3 cup sugar, the cinnamon & lemon zest. Stir and stew the cherries for about 5 – 7 minutes until softened and caramelized. Pour into a 9″ pie plate.
Meanwhile beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt to form stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with 3 Tblsp of sugar until light and pale yellow. To the yolks add the flour, vanilla, almond extract and yogurt (cream) and beat until well blended. Fold in the egg whites gently until just incorporated. Pour this batter over the cherries, smoothing to cover. Bake in the upper half of the oven for 20 minutes until browned. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar. Cool until you can handle the pie plate. Cut carefully around the edge of the clafoutis and invert a plate on top. Flip onto the plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve as dessert, or for a light sweet breakfast.
Pennsylvania Dutch Hot or Cold Cherry Soup
2 1/2 lbs pitted cherries (Save the juice from the cherries as you pit them)
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
2 Tblsp all purpose flour
6 Tblsp sugar
2 cups red wine (sirah, zinfandel, merlot)
fine zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
sour cream/creme fraiche for garnish
Rough chop the cherries (a food processor is fine – do not puree) combine with the reserved juice.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour and stir until the “roux” is straw colored. Add the cherries and sugar, stirring thoroughly to cover the cherries with the roux. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, the dry red wine, lemon zest spices and salt. Bring slowly to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool for cold soup or serve immediately garnished with creme fraiche.