Off the Menu with Dara can be heard every Saturday from 11:00-Noon on News Radio 830 WCCO!
It’s cherry season! I know this because I have an adorable little North Star Cherry Tree in my front yard and it’s got two-dozen cherries on it that look like absolute bright red jewels. And I know this because the stores are full of golden cherries, black cherries, sour cherries—all the cherries. But what to do with them? Glad you asked!
Champagne and Cherry Cocktail
Cherries and almonds are a classic combination (that’s why Ben ‘N Jerry’s Cherry Garcia is so good…almond extract in the ice cream!), and this simple cocktail from Martha Stewart is perfection. A little amaretto and a few fresh cherries add flavor, but does not overwhelm the bubbly. Elegant, and simple. Everything I aspire to! You can make a non-alcoholic version with sparkling cider and a few drops of almond-extract, or just throw some cherries in some fresh lemonade! That’s a great thing.
Bourbon (or Brandy!) Preserved Cherries
The most important thing to know about preserving cherries in alcohol is: You need to pit the cherries, or the whole thing turns bitter. So if you want to get involved in the time-honored tradition of stuffing a jar with cherries and pouring brandy or bourbon over the top, you’re going to have to get yourself a cherry pitter. You can find them anywhere (Target, Williams Sonoma, everywhere) – OXO makes a great one. Once you’ve got a cherry pitter, a mason jar (you know how I am about those!) and your alcohol of choice, you’re set up for Manhattans come Labor Day. If you want something a little fancier, check out this Tasting Table recipe linked above. So fancy with all the vanilla and orange peel. It’s delicious.
Come on, there’s nothing better than a cherry pie (no, not the song!). If you bring this to a pot-luck everyone is just going to “ooh” and “ahhhh” and fight over it. Who takes the time to pit two whole pounds of cherries anymore? You do, if you want the acclaim that comes with a real cherry pie!
Cherry Brown Butter Bars
Brown butter is one of the great cooking tricks of all time – it adds a carmelly nutty flavor to a baked good with zero extra work. Bars are one of the great summer desserts of all time—so easy to transport to a picnic, easy to eat, easy to cut into smaller bites for bigger than expected crowds. And these bars! These bars are phenomenal. So simple, just plump little cherries nestled in a shortbread crust, but so summer perfect.
Have you ever had real, bona fide, genuine Cherries Jubilee? Legend has it they were invented by Escoffier, that grandaddy of French cuisine, for Queen Victoria (you can read that here….the internet is amazing isn’t it?). It’s hard to think of them as being invented at all! It’s little more than cherries, butter, sugar, and a tablespoon of some alcohol, flambéed and poured over vanilla ice-cream. That said, if you know how to flambé that’s always a good party trick (directions here if you’re bold and curious). Lighting stuff on fire looks cool! There really is no need to do it if you’re not comfortable doing it. The alcohol in the tablespoon of booze will cook off all on its own, leaving behind nothing more than: The perfect summer dessert.