Results tagged cherries from David Lebovitz

Pickled Sour Cherries Recipe

griottes

Believe it or not, there’s much more to France than Paris.

Or so they say. I obviously don’t get out much, but last year when I went to Camp Cassoulet, also in attendance was Jennifer of Chez LouLou. Although all who were invited I knew previously, she was the only one I didn’t. Brave girl!

LouLou lives in the Southwest of France, which I think it just beyond the 13th arrondissement. (I haven’t tried to take the m├ętro there, but that’s where I think it is…isn’t it?)

She’d written up an intriguing recipe on her blog for Sour Cherries with Bay Leaf and bookmarked the page, assuming I wouldn’t see sour cherries in Paris: they’re about as hard to find here as they are in the states.

griottes

So when I saw fresh griottes, I almost lunged at the stand, and walked away with 2 kilos (about 4½ pounds).

Continue Reading Pickled Sour Cherries Recipe…

The Market in Le Neubourg

Just an hour or so from Paris is the medieval market at Le Neubourg where each wednesday locals crowd the market, choosing their fresh fruits and vegetable, regional raw-milk cheeses and just-churned golden-yellow crocks of butter, along with meats and hand-stuffed sausages from the jovial local bouchers, doling out crispy morsels of sautéed charcuterie.

It’s the kind of market where if you ask the poultry person for a quail, they’ll stick their hands in a box, there’ll be a flurry of activity within, the unsettling sound of ruffling feathers and squalking…then calm. A few seconds later, your dinner will emerge. The medival market at Le Neubourg is the real thing and has existed for hundreds of years and some of the wares are not for the squeemish.
Nowadays you’ll find vendors selling crisp frites sprinkled liberally with crystals of sel de Guérande, cheery Arabic vendors hawking frangant olive oil soaps, and rubber-booted fishermen presiding over piles of glistening mussels from nearby Brittany.

Being a baker, I think (and hope), has good karma. No animals have been harmed in the making of any of my desserts.
So aside from the live birds and furry bunnies for sale, what wowed me of course was the abundance of berries on display. Juding from the sweet perfume of the raspberries and the plumpness of the currants (as well as the stained fingers of the farmers) they’d obviously just been picked.

sourcherries.jpg
Perky sour cherries, which they’ve dubbed for some reason ‘cerises anglaise’.
whitecherries.jpg
Unusual crispy white cherries, a variety I’ve never seen before.
gooseberries.jpg
Black currants, red gooseberries and loganberries, which I’ve never found in France. The vendor told me they were framboises americain (American raspberries).
currnats.jpg
Tiny white and black currants, called cassis. Black currants have heavy tannins when eated raw, and but are unctuous and deeply-flavored when cooked. They’re widely used (and best known) for the syrupy crème de cassis.
melon.jpg
A jumble of juicy and vibrant summer melons.

How to Select Summer Fruits

Apricots

I’m in heaven with all the sensational fruits that explode at the markets every summer. Each shopping trip, I invariably lug back with way too much fruit. But everything looks so good I can’t resist; rosy nectarines, blushing apricots, and crisp, dark cherries.

So to help you choose the best summer fruits, here’s some shopping tips. Best bets are often at Farmer’s Markets, where the growers take primo care of what they’re selling and often they encourage sampling before you buy.

sour cherries

Cherries

The most popular sweet cherry varieties are deep-dark red and plump, with moist, perky stems. Bing cherries are reliably excellent. Although some varieties, like Queen Anne and Rainier, are light red and yellow-colored, they have a more delicate taste, which some people prefer. Cherries should be washed, then stored in the refrigerator. Unlike most other fruits, cherries are more appealing when served very cold and crisp.

Avoid cherries that are wrinkled, which means they were picked a while ago. Split apart cherries means they got wet while growing and will mold quickly.

Mara de Bois

Berries

When buying berries that are packed in plastic or cardboard containers, peek underneath: moisture on the bottom indicates the berries below are soggy or moldy.

Strawberries should be uniformly red with no green at the tips or at the stem. (Did you know the cluster of seeds concentrated at the tip is referred to as a ‘cats nose’?)
Strawberries should have a sweet smell. Some berries have been hybridized to be red on the outside, but disappointingly underripe within, so color’s not always an accurate indication. Avoid buying commercial strawberries after rainy weather: since they grow near the earth, they’re often sprayed with a rather nasty chemical to prevent mold. Look for organic strawberries instead.

If you’re not going to eat strawberries the same day, store them on a plate in the refrigerator, in a single-layer, so they don’t mush each other down.

Raspberries, blueberries, and other bushberries should be plump and dry. Blackberries should be inky-black and a bit soft, never rock-hard. There’s nothing worse than a sour blackberry.

Blueberries should be firm. Most have no fragrance. Did you know that each blueberry can contain up to 100 seeds? If you don’t believe me, slice one open and count. I never wash any berries since they’re too fragile-except blueberries and strawberries.

Can you freeze fresh berries or pitted cherries? Yes. Lay the fruits out in an even layer on a non-reactive baking sheet (or line one with parchment paper.) Freeze. Once frozen, store in zip-top freezer bags. Frozen berries and cherries can be used for sauces, or added frozen mixed with other fruits for pies, crisps, and cobblers.

melons

Melons

It’s been said that finding a good melon is like falling in love. Sometimes you have to try a lot of them to find the right one.

Judy Rodgers in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook insists that the best melons are the ones with lots of netting and claims not to have picked a bad one since learning that. I always take a good sniff. The most amazing melons I’ve tasted were melons that I could smell before I could see them.

Choose a melon that’s heavy and relatively firm, but not-rock hard (except for honeydew melons.) Any mold by the stem end or mushy spots are indications of it being over-the-hill.

A simple melon dessert can be made by pouring sweet wine, such as Muscat or Sauternes, over slices of melon and berries and chilling them well. Store melons in the refrigerator.

Peaches, Elderberries, and Nectarines

Nectarines and Peaches

The best peaches have a sweet, perfumed aroma if you sniff the stem end. Peaches need to be picked a day before ripening, then ripened off the tree. Or better yet, the same day. If they’re too green, they were picked too soon and will never taste good. Ditto for nectarines. Find fruits that are mostly red and blushing.
If faced with a bin of underripe fruits, find one that’s rather soft and smell it. If it smells good, chances are the rest will be too, once ripe.

bag of apricots

Apricots and Plums

Neither of these fruits boast much aroma, but they make up for it with lots of flavor. Apricots should have an appealing blush and no green. Red-tinged apricots means they’ve received lots of sunlight and will likely be good. Apricots are best when they’re gushy-ripe. They should be very soft, like a water balloon. My favorite variety are the Royal and Blenheim apricots.

Most of the flavor in plums are in the skin, and they make the best jam, especially when mixed with raspberries. Santa Rosa and Elephant Heart plums are reliably good.

Baked apricots are a superb, easy dessert: simply halve ripe, but firm apricots, place face-down in a baking dish, pour in a wine glass of white wine (dry or sweet), and drizzle with a copious amount of honey (use more than you think, as apricots get quite tart when cooked.) You can add a split vanilla bean too. Bake until the apricots are tender and juicy.

Delicious with vanilla ice cream!

Fruit Recipes

Baked Nectarines and Cherries

Berry Cobbler

Candied Cherries

Cranberry Raisin Pie

Lemon Tart

Persimmon Bread

Polenta Crisp Topping

Quince tarte Tatin

Red Wine-Poached Rhubarb

Rosy Poached Quince

Tropical Fruit Soup

Vanilla-Poached Quince

Warm Compote of Summer Fruits

Quick Candied Cherry Recipe

candiedcherriesblog.jpg

The arrival of cherries means the dreariness of winter is definitely over, and I can finally look forward to a long, delicious summer of fresh apricots, raspberries, nectarines, peaches, and plums. Once cherries became reasonable at the market this is a great way to use and preserve them when the price drops and when the season is in full swing, or nearing the end, I find myself using fresh cherries as fast as I can pit ‘em.

Although you might think it’s funny to candy fresh something fresh, there are times perhaps your cherries aren’t super-flavorful (like too early or too late in the season) and candying augments and intensifies flavor. And as a bonus, you’ll end up with a lovely brilliant-red syrup which you can mix with Champagne for a fizzy and festive kir Royale. Once candied, these cherries will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Spoon them over vanilla ice cream, stir them into yogurt, and toss them with nectarines or peaches for a summer cobbler.

Quick Candied Cherries

  • 1 pound (450 g) fresh sweet or sour cherries, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) water
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Remove the stems and pit the cherries (I use a handheld cherry pitter.)

In a large non-reactive saucepan (at least 4 quarts/liters) bring the cherries, water, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil.

Reduce the heat so the cherries are cooking at a low rolling boil. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently during the last 10 minutes of cooking to make sure the cherries are cooking evenly and not sticking.

Once the syrup is mostly reduced and a brilliant ruby-color, similar to the consistency of maple syrup, remove the pan from the heat and cool the cherries to room temperature.

After the cherries are cool, they can be refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen in zip-top freezer bags for up to one year.



Recommended Cherry Pitters

OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter: Like all Oxo products, this one gets high marks from users.

Leifheit Cherry Pitter: All-metal cherry pitter, popular in Europe.

Leifheit Pro-Line Cherry Pitter: (I love that name!) This is a terrific tool if you have a lot of cherries to pit. Keeps the cherries in a container, so it’s less-messy to use than others.

Related Recipes

White Chocolate and Cherry Scones

No-Recipe Cherry Jam

Pickled Sour Cherries

Easy Jam Tart

Peach Leaf Wine

Quick Mincemeat Recipe

Red Wine-Poached Rhubarb

Upside Down Cake

Almond Cake

Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream