We finally got our first fruit shipment from the CSA and it included a quart of strawberries and a bunch of cherries-pretty small order but I guess it’s still so early in the summer that most of the fruit hasn’t ripened yet. That makes sense as I am not even seeing much local fruit produce in the grocery store yet.
I couldn’t figure out what to do with the cherries. They weren’t too sweet so eating them on their own was only a so so option. I thought about making a clafoute because I had just bought Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Express cookbook (buy Nigella’s book here: Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast) and she has a great and easy version of this custardy-pie like dessert. However, I really didn’t want to put the oven on and do all that work in this heat. We’ve got 90+ degrees and muggy these days so all I feel like doing is passing out in the kiddy pool. So I let the cherries chill out in the fridge for a day while I went about my Sunday BBQ party and visited with my guests, passing around ice-cream cones to cool everyone down. One thing we did manage to do was drink some great wine throughout the day, especially since one of my guests was Katell, a wine importer who wrote for us recently about great new wines this season, all under $25. Believe it or not, one of the bottles did not get finished and when I woke up today I realized I had half a bottle of this great, smoky Cabernet Sauvignon which we had left wide open on the counter. I was sure it went sour, but when I smelled it, it smelled as good as it tasted the day before. Immediately I thought of the cherries.
In following my classic recipe for cranberry sauce around the holidays, I put the cherries in a pot with an equal amount of wine. So I had about a cup of cherries (I took out the pits) and I added a cup of the red wine to the pot, maybe a cup and a half. I then added 1/2 cup sugar, about a tablespoon of orange zest, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a few grates of nutmeg and some black pepper to give it a kick. I let it cook over low heat for a half hour. Usually when I make cranberry sauce, I don’t use wine, but instead I use orange juice or cider and I use more sugar. but this time I was not looking to make anything too jelly-like, but more of a stew.
I stuck my nose in the pot and thought I had died and gone to heaven. The smell was so luscious that once it had cooled, my family and I just stood around the pot with spoons and pulled the cherries out, one by one and gobbled them up. Delish!
Here are some Rachael Ray recipes with cherries: