Results tagged kirsch from David Lebovitz

Cherry Compote

Fresh Cherry Compote recipe

I think I have something wrong with me. I seem to be afflicted with a particular malady that forces me to buy way too many summer fruits when they’re in season. It gets particularly dire when faced with apricots and cherries, two fruits whose seasons are much shorter than the others. The first fresh apricots I saw were back in upstate New York, around the 1980s, and I’d never seen them before. Someone brought us a basket of the tender, squishy little orange fruits to the restaurant that I worked at, and I remember being completely taken off guard, as the only apricots I’d ever seen were the dried ones. And while I loved the crinkly dried specimens, those fresh beauties with a red blush were a whole other taste entirely.

Fresh Cherry Compote recipe

Then, when I moved to California, I discovered how abundant fresh apricots are (or can be), as they are in France. But no matter how abundant – or not – cherries are when the season is in full swing, I always consider them extra-special fruits and give a prominent place in my kitchen. At the beginning of the season, they’re incredibly expensive and rarely good. Then, as the season moves along, they start showing up in larger mounds at the market, and the prices get gentler, coaxing me to buy as many as I can heft.

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French Pear & Almond Tart Recipe

french pear tart with cherries

I’ve been living in France for almost eight years and in all that time, I’ve yet to make even one of these classic French pear tarts. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a bakery that didn’t have wedges of this tart in little paper footings, ready to take out and be consumed right away. So I guess because I could always buy one, why make it? But since I had a kilo of almond paste that I bought for another project, a batch of poached pears on hand, and an unbaked tart shell waiting it’s turn in my freezer, I decided to give one a go.

This is a wonderful tart: pears fanned out in a golden-brown, buttery pastry shell that’s been spread with almond cream, then baked. And after I pulled this one out of the oven, I realized why it’s important to make this yourself; because it tastes amazing when still-warm from the oven, and you can use your own poached pears so you can vary the spices to your taste. (However you can use canned pear halves, which many of the French pastry shops do.)

Aside from the almond paste, I also had a jar of quick-candied sour cherries on hand from another baking project (if it seems like I have a lot of baking odds and ends on hand, welcome to my world…), so I used them as well, which is something I haven’t seen in any French bakery. I’m thinking of suggesting they use them on my next visit.

poached pears peartartb&w

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Apricot Jam

apricots.jpg

A lot of out-of-towners who visit France are always surprised to wake up in the morning and find themselves with a few pieces of baguette or a single croissant for breakfast. Those are in contrast to our breakfasts, which can be groaning-board sized, featuring some—or in more extreme cases, all of the following: eggs, sausages, pancakes, bacon, oatmeal, cereal, toast, orange juice, and waffles.

cafe au lait

Tartines are the popular breakfast in France, a word which comes from the verb tartiner—”to spread”. So along with the basket of bread offered, there’ll be lots of butter (which is one of the few times you’ll see most French people spreading that on their bread) and generally some sort of confiture in a pot alongside.

jam

Instead of deciding between fluffy cheese-and-spinach stuffed omelettes with a side of smoked bacon strips, a New York bagel piled with cream cheese, lox, capers, and thinly-sliced red onions, char-broiled steak with three fried eggs and golden hash browns, a big stack of hot bluberry flapjacks flowing with maple syrup and dripping with melted butter, spicy huevos rancheros, or a mound of crisp-fried corned beef hash (hmmm…can someone remind me why I threw away that return ticket?) the choice in the morning here boils down to which flavor of jam to offer.

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Kirsch

handful of cherries

If I had to name five items that are obligatory in my baking repertoire, after The Big Four (sugar, butter, flour, and eggs), a bottle of kirsch is essential for me, right up there with vanilla, vying for numéro 5. A few drops of kirsch highlights and augments the flavor of peaches, nectarines, plums, and every kind of berry imaginable. And since it’s summer and all those fruits are ever-present in my kitchen, my slender bottle of kirsch hasn’t been returned to its perch on the liquor shelf since the first strawberries arrived a month ago.

A good bottle of kirsch runs about $40 (750ml) in the United States, although smaller bottles are less expensive. Why is it so darned pricey? Because it takes about 20-30 pounds of fruit to make a bottle of kirsch (also called kirschwasser). So even though I think I got a D- in high school math, it doesn’t take an honor student to calculate that 20 or 30 pounds of cherries, at let’s say…I dunno, $2/pound, makes that bottle suddenly seems like not such a bad deal after all.

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Tips For Making Homemade Ice Cream Softer

Now that everyone out there’s been churning up ice cream, I’ve been getting a certain amount of questions about homemade ice cream, which I’m going to answer here over the next several weeks.

I’m going to start with the number one question folks have been asking: Why does homemade ice cream gets harder than commercial ice cream in their freezer? And what can be done to prevent it?

Salted Butter-Caramel Ice Cream

While I do address this in The Perfect Scoop (pages 5 and 16), I thought I’d list some strategies here as well. I don’t necessarily follow these all the time, but thought I’d put them out for readers to ponder and use as they see fit.

Alcohol

Alcohol doesn’t freeze, which you know if you’re anything like me and keep a bottle of Zubróvka vodka chilled and ready in your freezer. You can add up to 3 tablespoons of 40 proof liquor to 1 quart (1 liter) of your frozen dessert mixture prior to churning. I use vodka if I don’t want the taste of the liquor to intrude on the flavor, but will switch to another liquor such as Grand Marnier or Armagnac to enhance the original flavor if it’s compatible.

If my mixture is fruit-based, I prefer to add kirsch, a liquor which enhances the taste of stone fruits, like peaches, plums, nectarines, as well as berries. Generally-speaking, I’ll add enough so the taste isn’t very present, often less than a tablespoon.

For sorbets and sherbets, a glug of Champagne, white wine or rosé is nice with fruit flavors. 1/2 cup (125 ml) can be added per quart (liter) of mixture prior to churning. Or if the recipe calls for cooking the fruit with water, substitute some dry or sweet white wine for a portion of the water; the amount will depend on how much of the wine you want to taste. (Most of the alcohol will cook out but enough will remain to keep your sorbet softer.)

Sugar

Like alcohol, sugar doesn’t freeze which is why you shouldn’t futz around with recipes and just reduce the sugar willy-nilly. Almost all frozen dessert recipes use white granulated sugar, however you can replace some or all of the sugar with another liquid sweetener, namely honey or light corn syrup.

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