• Cherry Clafoutis

    Cherry clafoutis.

    Nothing makes us happier than growing, cooking, eating and sharing our own food. But there is a slight tyranny to the seasons. If you have cherries, you are cooking with cherries, period. And our Bing cherries are at their peak, so we picked them all. One small tree gave us four large bowls of cherries…all at once. Happily, cherries lend themselves to all sorts of dishes and cocktails (and we do seem to like eating and drinking). So this week you may see cherries in all sorts of dishes. But for now, let’s start with a classic cherry dessert, clafoutis.

    Fresh Bing cherries form our orchard.

    Clafoutis is a French dessert that combines cherries baked in a light batter, often with some added almond flavor. Think of the batter as “flan-meets-pancake” and you can get an idea of the light, yet rich, texture that rightfully lets the cherries star in the dish. Originally clafoutis featured sour or black cherries with the pits still in. Supposedly the pits add extra almond-like flavor, but as we have Bing cherries and like our teeth, we put pitted Bing cherries and almond extract in our clafoutis. You can also use this basic recipe with other stone fruits or berries, but if you want to be technical it would then be a flaugnarde, but feel free to call it a clafoutis- we won’t tell anyone.

    A cherry-pitter is a useful tool if you like cherries as much as we do.

    As for the recipe, clafoutis is a classic dish and there are many recipes out there. We chose to adapt an Alice Waters recipe that adds a few extra steps, but also adds extra flavor. In this case we season and pre-bake the cherries before we add them to the clafoutis. The extra cooking improves the flavor and texture of the cherries, but also leaves behind the base of a syrup you can reduce and drizzle on top of the clafoutis at service. Good stuff. We also prefer to cook clafoutis (and many desserts) in individual ramekins, we think it looks good and makes leftovers easier to handle, but a large baking dish works for this recipe as well.

    Season the cherries for pre-baking.

    Extra cooking for more flavor and better texture- plus you get cherry juice for a sauce.

    Place a layer of cherries in the ramekins or baking dish.

    Assembling the clafoutis is a pretty easy affair. Pre-cook the cherries, save the syrup, butter your baking dish(es), place the fruit in the dishes, make and add the batter and bake. The batter is the only part of the recipe that requires some extra effort, you need to whip egg whites and then fold them into the batter for the right texture. The clafoutis bakes for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees. While the clafoutis bakes, reduce your cherry syrup for a tasty and pretty sauce. When the clafoutis is done, add the sauce, dust with powdered sugar and serve.

    Make the batter.

    Pour batter over the cherries.

    Bake until browned and puffed. Continue reading

  • Weekly Cocktail #16: The Caipirinha / Cherry-Lime Caipirinha

    Cherry-lime caipirinha.

    Our friend Alicia over at Boozed + Infused (a great blog on homemade booze) recently posted on the concept of “gartending”. As you might expect, gartending means you are making cocktails with ingredients from your garden. So now that it has a name, we can say that we have been happily gartending for some time. One reason we like cocktails as much as we do is that we can quickly enjoy the fruit and herbs from the garden in drinks. It is always fun to enjoy the fruits of your labor, and if you get to add a bit of booze…so much the better.

    As we noted earlier this week, we are happily harvesting cherries. We are eating them out of hand, mostly, and will be baking this weekend, but once we picked them our thoughts went to cocktails. And we made a cherry-lime caipirinha. And it was good. Very good. Good enough that we decided to post the recipe.

    Cherry-lime caipirinha and ingredients.

    The caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil. It is a simple, but delightful, combination of cachaca, limes and sugar. You simply muddle about 1/2 a lime with a few teaspoons of sugar to get the juice and oils from the limes and then add cachaca and ice. While the process is simple, you get a very tasty, complex cocktail that is perfect for summer. And keeping in the spirit of Brazil, there are few rules with the Caipirinha. It is quite acceptable to add in or change the fruit or even the base spirit and still call the drink a caipirinha. And since we had cherries and we like them with limes, the cherry-lime caipirinha was not far behind.

    If you are unfamiliar with cachaca, it is basically “Brazilian rum” but it is made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses (rum agricole, made from cane syrup is somewhere between cachaca and rum). Cachaca has an overt sugar cane flavor with some heat from the alcohol and what most would call “musty” and grassy notes. That may not sound all that good, but it works well in cocktails, particularly with fruit-driven recipes. We enjoy cachaca in cocktails like the Rose Pearl, but it does mostly end up in caipirinhas during the summer.

    As for the caipirinha, the name itself loosely translates to “country-bumpkin” or “hillbilly”. And if you have a few of these your behavior certainly might “deteriorate” somewhat. The caipirinha is a great drink, the only real downside is that it is mostly booze, but goes down very, very easy. Sometimes you want to enjoy a caipirinha but not act like one, if you know what we mean…;-) Consider yourself warned and happy Friday!

    The Caipirinha / Cherry-Lime Caipirinha

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 large lime, cut into quarters
    • 4 cherries, pitted and cut in half (optional)
    • 2 teaspoons, or more, granulated sugar
    • 2 or 3 oz. cachaca
    • Ice

    Assemble:

    1. Muddle the fruit and sugar in a cocktail glass. Add the cachaca and stir. Pour the mixture into a lowball glass and add a lot of ice. Mix and serve.