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The 10 lb Cherry Challenge!

Cherry Compote for an Indian Style Cheesecake:

The recipe for the Indian Style Cheesecake is from Raghavan Iyer's new book 'Indian Cooking Unfolded'. Deceptively simple, it takes all of 45 minutes from pulling out the ingredients from the refrigerator to placing the baked confection back into the fridge to chill. Here is a link to another version of the same, Just substitute the Chai masala with powdered Cardamom and microplane nutmeg over the mixture before baking.

before I let loose my imagination on the cherries, I decided to play it safe and follow Bon Appetit's recipe for Cherry compote, except that I added a teaspoon of orange zest to the mix.

Cherry Compote:

1 lb cherries (which will reduce to 14 oz once the pits & stem are removed)
1/2 cup Brandy
1/4 cup sugar
1 heaped teaspoon orange zest

Cut the pitted cherries in two and add to the pan along with the sugar & brandy. On gentle heat cook down the fruit until it becomes soft. Gently remove the fruit to a container with a slotted spoon.
Cook down the remaining juice in the pan until it thickens. You may mix it back with the cherries, but I prefer keeping it separate, it forms a beautiful jelly layer when spread over the bowl of cheesecake.


Cherry-lime Granita

You need:

1 lb Cherries (14 oz after pitting)
1/4 cup Basil simple syrup*
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Combine all the ingredients in a blender jar and blend until smooth. Pour out into a shallow container, cover and freeze overnight. To serve, scrape the frozen crystals with a fork and into a goblet. Garnish with a basil leaf & serve.

*To make the Basil simple syrup, combine 1 cup of sugar with 1/2 a cup of water and a generous handful of Basil (I used the purple variety, which tinted the simple syrup a beautiful shade of pink). Bring to a gentle boil on low heat and simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes until the leaves have completely wilted and almost 'cooked' . Strain into a glass bottle, store for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.


 Cous Cous Salad with garden fresh vegetables and a smoky Cherry Chipotle dressing.

You need:

10-12 pitted cherries, pureed and strained
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 tablespoons Olive oil (I used the lemon infused variety)
1 teaspoon smoked chipotle chile powder
1/3 teaspoon smoked paprika or pimenton (adjust as per taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients and whisk until the mix emulsifies.

1 cup cous cous 
1/2 cup chopped grape tomatoes
1 cucumber diced
2 small shallots diced
I ear of corn, roasted and shaved off the cob.
Juice of 1/2 a lime (use as needed)
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

Rinse the Cous cous and place on a fine mesh sieve or steamer. Place the sieve in a pan containing water at the bottom and steam until the Cous cous doubles in volume. Fluff with a fork and set aside
 Combine the steamed cous cous with diced vegetables  & corn. Fold in the dressing to coat evenly. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.


Boozy Cherries

You need:

8 oz cherries with the pits & stems attached
1 small bottle Jack Daniels Bourbon
1/4 cup Basil infused simple syrup (check the recipe for Cherry granita to make this) 

Gently warm the bourbon and the basil simple syrup in a saucepan on LOW heat (the bourbon can be volatile)

Wash and dry the cherries completely. Place in a 26 oz Weck Glass jar, pour the warm bourbon over the cherries and seal with the lid. Refrigerate for 3 days until the cherries have soaked up the bourbon while releasing some of their flavor into the alcohol. Use the cherries as a garnish for cocktails. 


Cherry Buckle cake:

I've made many many versions of this easy peasy recipe from Oprah Winfrey. The Cherry version is simply the latest.

You need:

1.5 cups self rising flour
2 cups cherry vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
1/2 lb  cherries

Wash and pit the cherries, cut each one of them in two and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.

 Brush the bottom and the sides of a 9 inch square baking dish generously with the melted butter.

In a mixing bowl, combine the melted cherry vanilla ice cream, self rising flour, salt and the butter, whisk together and pour into the greased baking dish. 

Arrange the cherries over the batter as shown and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Spoon into bowls and serve with whipped cream.


 Cherry Jam with mace:

With such beautiful fruit that make their appearance for such a short time during the year, one instinctively feels the need to preserve them. The bulk of the fruit were made into jam to be shared with friends and family and with  all my readers, virtually, though this recipe:

5 lbs pitted cherries (you will need to account for this when weighing the whole fruit)
2 1/2 lb sugar
Zest of 4 large lemons,
Juice from 3 lemons
1 pack sure jell pectin (the powder, not the liquid)
5-6 whole arils of mace (do not break them up, it becomes difficult to fish them out later)
16 small canning jars (1/2 cup capacity) with new lids and canning rings.

Sterilize the jars, rings and the lids and dry them completely

Place a couple of metal plates in the freezer to chill.

Add the cherries and the pectin to a large heavy bottomed stock pot  to cook them . Once the fruit is soft and the mixture is boiling, add the sugar along with the lemon juice, zest and the mace. Cook down until the mixture is thick (~ 2 hours) taking care to ensure that the bottom of the pot does not burn.Skim off any foam that appears on the surface.

When the mixture is thick, remove a chilled plate from the freezer and add 1/2 a teaspoon of the jam mixture. Place it back into the freezer for a minute to cool down. If the jam is set then shut off the heat. remove the pieces of mace if you prefer and ladle the jam into the jars carefully, wipe the rim clean with a moist  kitchen towel. Place the lid on and screw on the rings until finger tight.

Bring a large canning pot full of water to boil and gently immerse the jars in. Boil for 15 minutes (sea level, at higher altitudes you may need to can for a longer time. Check the jar manufactures instructions) until all the air escapes from inside the jar., Carefully remove the HOT jars, wipe down and tighten the rings. Allow the jars to completely cool and form a seal (press the center of the lid if it lets out a 'POP' sound, its not airtight and you should place these jars immediately in the fridge and use it up ASAP).



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