Habeas Brulee » Sour Cherry http://habeasbrulee.com Sun, 17 Mar 2013 03:04:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.21 Lazy, Rustic, Haphazard, and Amazing Sour Cherry Pies http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/06/24/lazy-rustic-haphazard-and-amazing-sour-cherry-pies/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/06/24/lazy-rustic-haphazard-and-amazing-sour-cherry-pies/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2011 14:22:18 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=567

I’ve gotten seriously lazy with my sour cherry pies.

I make at least half a dozen every year, or my father sulks. It’s just one of those things. The tree is ready in mid-June, so everyone gathers together to pick, pit, barbecue, and eat. I’ve learned to make the crust dough in advance at home and just bring it over and stick it into Dad’s freezer before we attack the tree. These things get easier over time.

But since the tree keeps growing and I make more and more pies each year, I’ve had to learn a few shortcuts along the way. A few improvements. How do you make so many pies without anyone getting bored, without driving yourself nuts with irritation, while maintaining high quality and tastiness? Well, I think I’ve finally figured it out. This is how.

Forget pie tins. Forget measurements and mixing up the filling carefully. Forget lattices or double crusts. Forget everything you’ve ever learned about how to make a beautiful pie. No one cares if these are beautiful. If they’re delicious, dayenu, it’s more than enough for us. Don’t lead us through the desert. Just make us a few more pies!

Lazy. Haphazard. I make an almond-meal based tart dough, roll out chunks of it, and just splat them onto foil-covered baking sheets. I squeeze much of the juice out of cherries, handfuls at a time, and spread them across the middle of the sheet of dough. Sprinkle on some sort of starch to absorb the liquid, brown sugar, flavorful booze, a bit of cinnamon, some vanilla and almond extracts.

Want variety? Sure, make a few wishniak pies, a few with whisky, some with amaretto. Whatever makes you happy. Just splash it right on top. Then cover all your sins with crumblies, and stick it in the oven. One or two pies per baking sheet. My oven fits four baking sheets. We get the job done. Someone else runs out for ice cream in the end.

Sour Cherry Archives
2008: Sour Cherry Coffee Cake
2007: Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger
2007: Sour Cherry Braised Lamb Shanks
2006: Dave’s Sour Cherry Barbecue Sauce and Baby Back Ribs
2006: Sour Cherry Almond Milk Sorbet
2006: Sour Cherry Sage Flower Jam
2006: Sour Cherry Pie (Old Version)

Lazy, Rustic, Haphazard, and Amazing Sour Cherry Pies
For the crust:
2 C flour
1/2 C almond meal
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 C butter (slightly softened, but still cold)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
For the filling (and no, this section doesn’t have precise measurements):
Sour cherries, rinsed and pitted
Flour or corn starch
Dark brown sugar
Almond extract
Vanilla extract
Booze (I prefer wishniak (a sort of cherry liquor), but kirsch or amaretto or whiskey or rum or whatever you like will work just fine)
For the crumblies:
1/2 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C butter

Mix together the dry ingredients for the crust. Add the butter and mix or squish together by hand until the dough reaches a texture like bread crumbs. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Slam it against a hard surface to remove the air bubbles, as you would if working with clay. Form it into a squat, chubby cylinder, and cut the cylinder in half so that you have two disks. (Or into smaller chunks, if you prefer smaller pies.) Wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for at least half an hour, and up to twenty-four hours. Alternatively, you can stick them in the freezer and they’ll keep for a few months. This makes enough dough for two reasonably large tarts (or more smaller ones).

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Prepare an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. (Or several!)

Take one chunk of dough out of the fridge at a time. I like to roll out my dough between floured layers of waxed paper, to keep my rolling pin clean and make it easier to flip it as I go. Every few moments, just gently remove the wax paper and sprinkle on a bit more dough to keep it from sticking. When it’s about 1/8″ thick, flip it out onto a prepared baking sheet.

You’re going to build a really haphazard filling right on top of the dough, keeping about 1.5″-2″ clear around the edge.

First, the sour cherries. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the cherries before piling them on top of the dough – no matter how much liquid you remove, you’ll still end up with too much remaining. I promise. (Save the liquid you squeeze out – you can use it to make syrup for soda!)

Next, sprinkle on some flour or corn starch to help absorb the liquid. A nice dusting over all the cherries should do just fine. You really can’t go wrong here. Then sprinkle on a light dusting of cinnamon as well.

Drizzle a few little dashes of vanilla and almond extracts over the cherries.

Heavily sprinkle brown sugar over the cherries next. My brown sugar tends to solidify, so more often than not I use a knife to just slice the brown sugar over the cherries. I use rather a lot, but it’s just a matter of taste. Sour cherries are more flavorful than sweet ones, and you add a lot of sweetness with ice cream at the end anyway.

Last, splash some booze over the whole mess. Rather a lot more than you did with the extracts. Definitely more of a splash than a drizzle, this time. Don’t panic. The alcohol will cook off, and it’ll be lovely.

To finish things up, make the crumbles by mixing together the non-butter crumbly ingredients and then cutting in the butter until the texture is, well, crumbly. Sprinkle over the cherries.

At this point, if you’re making pies in bulk for a parent who sulks if he doesn’t get enough pie each summer, you can just freeze your pie in his freezer and instruct him on how to bake it himself whenever he wants. That’s a bit silly, though. He always bakes and eats them all within the first week anyway.

Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375° F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until it looks done.

Serve with vanilla ice cream for best effect.

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Sour Cherry Coffee Cake http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/07/05/sour-cherry-coffee-cake/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/07/05/sour-cherry-coffee-cake/#comments Sat, 05 Jul 2008 15:14:19 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/07/05/sour-cherry-coffee-cake/

I’m in Portland right now, but I made this sour cherry coffee cake not long before I left Brooklyn, with sour cherries we picked from my father’s tree.

Bonnie helped us pick the first round of cherries off the tree,

It was a 4-foot-all dwarf tree when my parents first bought it, but now it dwarfs us all.

We picked cherries for two days, and ended up with about 3 dozen jars of jam, 4 pies, 2 coffee cakes, sour cherry syrup, sour cherry molasses, at least a gallon of pitted sour cherries in the freezer, and a Persian sour cherry meatball polow (a sort of pilaf, a rice dish). And we left about a third of the cherries on the tree because we were stuck heading out of town before all of them had fully ripened, and some of them were too high up and too far out from the house for us to reach no matter how we tried.

Next year, maybe we should just rent a cherry picker and make no travel plans for June just to be sure to pick them all!

2007: Apple Caramel Ice Cream
2006: Blueberry Oatmeal Crisp with Lime Ice Cream

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake
(adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
for the batter
1 1/3 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp plus a pinch of salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 C (1 stick, 8 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 C plus 1 tbsp (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 C whole milk
2 C pitted sour cherries
for the crumblies
1 C flour
1/2 C sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 C butter

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Prepare a 9×9 square baking pan by buttering and flouring it.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt for the batter. Set aside.

In a separate bowl (I always use my KitchenAid for this), beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they form firm, glossy peaks. Transfer them to a separate bowl and set aside. (You don’t have to clean the mixer bowl between steps, mind.)

Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the egg yolks and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in half the dry ingredients, then all the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

Take the bowl away from the mixture and stir in 1/4 of the egg whites with a spatula. Fold in the rest of the whites. Fold in the sour cherries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Make the crumblies by mixing together the non-butter crumbly ingredients. Cut the butter into the mixture until the texture is crumbly. Spread over the cake batter.

Bake for about 55 minutes, or until a knife or cake tester comes out clean.

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Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/10/24/almond-buttermilk-biscuits-with-sour-cherry-compote-butterscotch-and-candied-pickled-ginger/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/10/24/almond-buttermilk-biscuits-with-sour-cherry-compote-butterscotch-and-candied-pickled-ginger/#comments Wed, 24 Oct 2007 17:23:50 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/10/24/almond-buttermilk-biscuits-with-sour-cherry-compote-butterscotch-and-candied-pickled-ginger/

This dessert is entirely Dave’s creation. He calls it CBGB (cherries, biscuits, ginger, and butterscotch), but I just can’t bring myself to call it that, personally. I prefer recipe names that really warn you about what you’re getting yourself into. It’s a due process issue, as far as I’m concerned – when I skim through recipes, I expect fair notice just by looking at their titles.

Here’s what you’re getting yourself into: The light, soft buttermilk biscuit has just a touch of almond flavor to it, that comes out more with each bite. It is the sturdy base which supports the other components in this dish. The sour cherry compote just blazes with flavor, tart and sweet and intoxicatingly intense. The pickled ginger barely needs to be candied at all, but the added sugar adds a nice crunch to the already crisp ginger.

The pickled ginger and sour cherry flavors really sing together – those two are the key flavors in this dish, the ones that truly dazzle the senses. And the creamy buttermilk pulls everything together, finishing the job in perfect harmony.

Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger
For the almond buttermilk biscuits
250 g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C (8 tbsp, or 1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp almond extract
For the sour cherry compote
600 g frozen pitted sour cherries
150 g sugar
For the butterscotch
3/4 C dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 C light corn syrup
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 C heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp xanthan gum or 7 g agar agar
For the candied pickled ginger
Pickled ginger

Make the almond buttermilk biscuits

Preheat your oven to 450 F.

In a food processor, process together all the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into chunks and add it. Pulse ten times or so. Add in the buttermilk and almond extract, then pulse six or so times, until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop. Shape it into rough lump. Cut the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a sphere. Place them on a parchment paper covered baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes or so, or until golden brown on top.

Make the sour cherry compote

Cook the cherries and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until most of the liquid is gone.

Make the butterscotch

In a small saucepan, simmer the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and cream of tartar together until it reaches 240 F, then immediately stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. To thicken it nicely, add either the xantham gum (for a more silky texture) or the agar agar (for a more slithery texture).

Make the candied pickled ginger

Roll the pickled ginger in sugar. Discard the now-damp sugar. Roll the pickled ginger in fresh sugar. Remove the ginger from the sugar, and slice it into thin slices.

Plate and serve.

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Sour Cherry Braised Lamb Shanks http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/05/07/sour-cherry-braised-lamb-shanks/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/05/07/sour-cherry-braised-lamb-shanks/#comments Mon, 07 May 2007 19:24:45 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/05/07/sour-cherry-braised-lamb-shanks/

And now we return to your regularly scheduled LambBlog. (It’s just that lamb is so cute and so tasty!) The sour cherry braising sauce is sort of sweet and sour and spicy and very rich. It is based on our homemade sour cherry sage flower jam, though you could probably substitute sour cherries, sage, and sugar.

My father’s sour cherry tree should be full of fruit in about a month or so, and I can’t wait. This year, we intend to follow the good example of the Hungarians in Tarpa (the town where my grandmother was born), who spread out tarp (pun not intended) under their plum trees and beat the trees until all the ripe plums fell.

It looks much easier and more effective than our usual method of climbing up on ladders and picking the cherries one by one, hurling each into the pots and baking pans spread out on the driveway below.

Sour Cherry Braised Lamb Shanks
2 1/2 lbs lamb shanks
1″ horseradish, grated (plus more for garnish)
1 tsp fenugreek
20 curry leaves
3/4 C sour cherry sage flower jam
4 shallots, coarsely sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 birdseye chili, crushed
Beef stock

Place the shanks in a baking pan or heavy pot. Mix together all ingredients, with just enough beef stock to have the sauce come about halfway up the sides of the shanks (at most). Cover with a sheet of wet crumpled parchment paper, then a lid (or tight aluminum foil). Bake at a low temperature for about 5 hours or so, or until tender. I like to refrigerate the meat and sauce separately so I can skim the fat off the sauce before reheating everything together and serving the next day.

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Dave’s Sour Cherry Barbecue Sauce and Baby Back Ribs http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/09/22/daves-sour-cherry-barbecue-sauce-and-babyback-ribs/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/09/22/daves-sour-cherry-barbecue-sauce-and-babyback-ribs/#comments Fri, 22 Sep 2006 13:51:54 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/09/22/daves-sour-cherry-barbecue-sauce-and-babyback-ribs/

I took no part in cooking this meal. Me, I’m just the scribe and photographer this time.

The ribs were experimental meats purchased in Brooklyn’s Chinatown. The sour cherries come from my parents’ sour cherry tree, and I did help with the picking and pitting. We made most of them into jam and pie and sauce earlier in the summer, and we froze some in case of emergency.

A few weekends ago, finally warmer and dry after a few days of rain and not quite yet settled into the autumn chill, was that emergency.

(No, I didn’t bother to wipe the bowl clean around the edges before taking out the camera. Barbecue sauce is messy business, and I’d not want to misrepresent it!)

I know this isn’t real barbecue. There was no pit, no burning wood, nothing like that. Dave follows his father’s old Missouri recipe for slowly braising ribs in the oven, then just finishing them on the grill or under the broiler. His sour cherry barbecue sauce is luscious, but I do not think we could call it traditional. But that doesn’t matter to me; what matters is how tasty it is.

Our frozen cherries made enough sauce for about 6-8 servings on ribs, given our stomach capacities. We used half it for dinner one night and lunch the next day, and froze the other half in anticipation of mid-winter ribs to come.

(Once that runs out, he will simply have to make more using our stockpiled sour cherry almond jam as the base instead.)

Dave’s Sour Cherry Barbecue Sauce
Gently cook until golden:
3 onions, chopped
1/8 C mustard oil

1 tsp chipotle
1/4 C cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Saute for two minutes, then deglaze pan with:
1/4 C tarragon vinegar
1/8 C ketchup
1 tbsp squished roasted garlic
1 1/2 tsp almond extract

3 lbs sour cherries
10 sage leaves, chopped

If making for Ima (my diabetic grandmother), add:
20 tablets equal
1 tbsp regular soy sauce

If making for the rest of us, add:
7/8 C sugar
5 tbsp thick Chinese soy sauce

Bring to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes. Then blend until smooth.

Dave’s Baby Back Ribs
Place your ribs on a single layer on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour some beer or cider or apple juice or something over the ribs. Roast, loosely covered with foil, at 265° or so for at least 4 hours (6 is better), flipping every hour. If you start running out of liquid, pour some more on.

Version 2.0: Most recently, Dave actually cooked these at 250° instead, and he declares that that worked out even better.

Brush ribs with sauce. Finish on the grill or under the broiler for about 5 minutes on each side.

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Sour Cherry Almond Milk Sorbet http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/22/sour-cherry-almond-milk-sorbet/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/22/sour-cherry-almond-milk-sorbet/#comments Thu, 22 Jun 2006 13:33:48 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/22/sour-cherry-almond-milk-sorbet/

No story here. Just another photo taken in my parents’ kitchen, and the perfect way to finish off the last sour cherries of the year. The first thing to hit your tongue here is the sour!, and then mostly smooth almond, until a lingering aftertaste of pure, tart cherry sweeps in.

Sour Cherry Almond Milk Sorbet
2 C almond milk
2 C sour cherries (pitted)
1/2 C sugar
2 large splashes of amaretto

Puree all ingredients together, chill, and make as you normally would a sorbet.

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Sour Cherry Sage Flower Jam http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/17/sour-cherry-sage-flower-jam/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/17/sour-cherry-sage-flower-jam/#comments Sat, 17 Jun 2006 07:34:05 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/17/sour-cherry-sage-flower-jam/

As soon as I saw the flowering sage at the farmer’s market, I just knew I had to use it in my entry for The Spice is Right #3: The Perfumed Garden, which called for us to use edible flowers in our cooking. And as I was saying, I have this extreme overabundance of sour cherries right now.

It just amazes me when I see the flowering herbs at the farmer’s markets. I knew that at least some herbs blossom, sort of, because I’ve had sage honey and thyme honey. But since I always kill my plants long before they manage to bloom, it never really clicked for me until I saw those bundles for sale. And I certainly never expected the flowers to actually share the flavor of the leaves I’m used to using. Those little purple sage flowers do add a taste of sage as well as beauty, but I steeped the cherries with bundles of sage leaves as well for a stronger overall melding of flavors. I love the way the flowers look like dark shadows in the jam.

To give credit where it is due, I must admit that I was inspired by the memory of Tania using sage-poached cherries in her salad. That’s one of the best things about food blogging – the way recipes or even flavor pairings evolve as we bounce ideas off of each other in the community.

I’m on a serious home canning kick right now, actually. Our apartment is starting to get over-crowded with jars. Dave and my mother agree that once we’re even more stocked up, we may have to get a table at a farmer’s market and sell a few of these, if only to make space for more.

Sour Cherry Sage Flower Jam
1 quart pitted sour cherries and sour cherry juice
5 C granulated sugar
2 tsp calcium water
2 tsp powdered pectin
2 large handfuls sage leaves
2 1/2 C loosely packed sage flowers

Blend the cherries and juice with the sugar until you have a mush. Rinse off the sage leaves and tie them into one or two bundles in cheesecloth. Bring the cherry mush to a boil with the sage bundles in, then cover and leave to steep, stirring and tasting occasionally, until the sage flavor comes out strongly enough to suit you.

Remove the sage bundles and press to drain as much liquid from them as possible back into the pot. Discard them. Add the calcium water. Bring the mix to a boil, then add the pectin and boil hard for a minute or so, or until you have reached the appropriate gel stage. The easiest way to test this is to have a bowl in the freezer. Drip a few drops of your jam into the bowl and see what the texture is like as it cools. If it wrinkles and moves as a single unit when you nudge it with your finger, it is ready. At that point, remove from heat and stir in the sage flowers.

Pour into sterile canning jars and process in boiling water for at least 15 minutes. As the jars cool, you can hear the lids pop down as the vacuum seal is formed in each.

If you want to make sure the flowers are dispersed throughout the jam instead of just floating at the top, give each jar a shake after it has started to gain some structural integrity but before it has completely gelled.

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Sour Cherry Pie (Old Version) http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/16/sour-cherry-pie/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/16/sour-cherry-pie/#comments Fri, 16 Jun 2006 14:38:56 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/16/sour-cherry-pie/

My father planted a sour cherry tree by the side of the house a few years back, and every year he insists that I make him a sour cherry pie. The deal has always been that my brother picks the cherries and I pit and bake the cherries.

The tree has grown enormously in the past year. Sure, when I lived there I used to be able to lean out my bedroom window to pick cherries off the top of the tree, but still, we’ve never had such a yield! My father, my brothers, Dave, and I were all picking and pitting cherries last night, and we had to leave at least half the cherries still on the tree. We’ll do another round of picking next week as the rest ripen. In the meantime, there was a pie, and with the five quarts of cherries and juice left in the pot there will be other sour goodies to come.

All this took place at my parents’ house, so the pie is on the old Singer sewing machine table that they have in the kitchen, and the photo within the photo is of my mother and my youngest brother. The drink is framboise lambic, a sort of a raspberry beer which I cannot recommend enough.

Sour Cherry Pie
For the dough
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 C cold unsalted butter, in pieces
4 tbsp ice water
For the filling
4 C pitted and drained fresh sour cherries
3 tbsp corn starch
1 pinch salt
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp Wishniak
For the crumblies
1/2 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C butter

Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut butter into the mixture until the texture is crumbly. Slowly mix in the water until the pastry just comes together. Add more if necessary, but not too much. Gather it into a ball and flatten it to a disk, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out.

Butter and flour a relatively shallow pie tin, and line with the rolled out dough. Fill with pie weights and bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and ditch the pie weights.

Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the cherries before measuring them – no matter how much liquid you remove, you will still end up with too much remaining. You can use the liquid to make soda or jam. Mix in the other filling ingredients, and then continue to drain as much liquid out as possible as you fill the pie. Wishniak is a sort of cherry liquor; you can substitute Kirsch if necessary.

Make the crumbles by mixing together the non-butter ingredients for the crumblies. Cut butter into the mixture until the texture is crumbly. Sprinkle over the cherries.

Return to the oven and bake for another 50 minutes or so, or until done.

Serve with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. The contrast between the sour pie and sweet ice cream is what really works for me.

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