Saturday, March 19, 2011

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Hethyr:  In our 13 years together, Jon and I have always been a bit fascinated by the fact that I know a lot of songs from the 30s without a clue as to how I came to learn them, so we’ve always joked about my previous life in the Big Band/Swing Era.  I’d even asked my mom about it in the past and she couldn’t figure out how I would know these songs.  Well, one day about a year ago, I was watching the 2005 remake of King Kong and started singing along to one of the songs – an Al Jolson recording of “I’m Sitting on Top of the World.”  As usual with this kind of music, it struck me as odd that I knew the song at all.  For a completely unrelated reason, I called home and my dad just happened to pick up the phone.  He has always amazed me with his musical knowledge, so I asked him how I could possibly know so many songs from that era.  He started laughing and told me that his parents had listened to Big Band/Swing when I was really young.  That explained it all!  And after years of wondering who I was in the 30s.  ;)

Cherry Pies with Almond-Streusel Topping
So, if you haven’t figured out the connection yet, the version of “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” in the video is from that era and this blog post is all about cherries and cherry wine.  It is also quite fitting that Bing Crosby was part of the recording - can you figure out why?  This summer, we received quite a bounty of pie cherries in our Grant Family Farms CSA.  I used some to make a couple of pies this past summer and I froze the rest, knowing that cherry pie in the dead of winter would be a special treat.  Actually, Jon got a couple of cherry pies and some cherry-cheese blintzes for Valentine's Day!  We also got about a dozen bottles of cherry wine between our summer and winter CSA shares.  It’s a really nice, light, crisp wine with a bright red color and a beautiful hand-drawn label, but because it is sweet, it’s not something I can sit down and drink several glasses of at once.  Since we received so many bottles, though, and since it’s only good for about 6 months in the refrigerator, we’ve given some as gifts and I’ve had to get really creative with the rest (aside from what we drink, of course).  This led to the creation of a couple of really great sauce recipes that I’ll share with you.

Since pork tends to go well with fruit sauces and chutneys due to its natural sweetness, I thought of a way to combine the cherry wine with pork chops.  I thought a cherry wine-cream sauce sounded divine, so I reduced some cherry wine with fresh rosemary and cream until slightly thickened.  Given a little extra time, I would probably have reduced it even more until it became thick and syrupy but it was still great, even if a little thin.

For the other recipe, I made a sweet drizzle for ice cream which turned out even better than expected.  Cherry pits and stems and the bark of the cherry tree have an almondy aroma/flavor so almonds are a natural complement to cherries.  What better to pair with this heavenly dessert sauce than my homemade toasted almond ice cream?  Although I’m sure it would be delicious over other flavors as well!

*Bonus Cherry Tip:  Easily pit fresh cherries by pushing the end of a chopstick or drinking straw through one end of the cherries.  The pits should push right through the other end.

Cherry Wine-Cream Sauce for Pork Chops or Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 cup cherry wine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pepper
In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook over medium to medium-high heat until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Adjust seasonings and drizzle over cooked pork chops or sliced pork tenderloin.

Cherry Wine-Brandy Reduction Sauce for Ice Cream, Pound Cake or Other Desserts
  • 1/2 cup cherry wine
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pie cherries
Cherry and dairy - oh, so very!  =)
Combine wine, brandy, honey and pie cherries in a small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat for 15 minutes or until thickened and syrupy.  Watch closely so it doesn’t boil over. 

Cool completely.  Add a little bit of water to thin, if necessary, before drizzling over ice cream, pound cake or other desserts of your choice.  I drizzled mine over homemade toasted almond ice cream and garnished with sliced toasted almonds.

I think this one is FoodPornDaily-worthy!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Pie Man
Jon:  One of the many great things about our CSA from Grant Farms is that we sometimes get awesome bonus items.  The fruits and veggies are the real reasons why we're signed up for a share, but it's always fun to get extra little "presents" like cherry wine and pie cherries.  Other past presents have included apple cider, gourds, eggs, bread, harvest beer and a holiday wreath.  But the cherry-related items have been provided in full force.  Every fall and winter we eat more pies than Lardass from Stand By Me.  I think it's important to any healthy balanced diet to include an appropriate pie to non-pie ratio.  I'm pretty sure that pie-deficiency is America's number one killer.  Seriously.  I read it on Wikipedia.

I'm sweatin' just looking
at this baby
I'm not sure how a cherry becomes a pie cherry.  Okay, I just asked Hethyr after writing that question so now I know.  Apparently there are sweet cherries and tart cherries.  The tart ones are used for pies (and those are the ones used in the sauce recipe above).  I can definitely vouch for the extreme tartness of these cherries, as evidenced by the way they cause me to sweat under my eyes.  Just as Hethyr's mom can confirm, anything sour or tart makes me sweat under my eyes.  The first time I told Ginny that margaritas make me sweat under my eyes (due to the sour mix), she laughed so hard I thought she would pass out.  Once she regained control she then proceeded to shoot margarita at me through her straw.  I can only hope that I don't get a tart pie in the face from her next week when I see her in Florida.

The intensity of these cherries make them a perfect fit for ice cream.  And the cherry wine sauce for pork is some of the best stuff I've ever had.  Maybe it's the sweetness of the pork that works so well with the cherry flavor.  I'm not entirely sure, but I don't need to be sure to eat it.  All this talk about tart cherries is actually causing me to sweat under my eyes right now.  I'd better grab a glass of wine and a towel.

1 comment:

  1. Laughing yet again! Seriously, who sweats under eyes?!? Tart pie in the face it is . . . can't wait to see you. :-)
    And Hethyr, thanks for the tip on pitting cherries. Obviously, I still have so much to learn!