Sunday, September 19

Cheers for Cherries

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There’s a cherry for every palette — sweet, sour, dark and luscious or bright and mild. You can pop them fresh and unpitted into your mouth or reduce them into a syrup for your most elegant desserts. Just keep in mind that there’s not an endless supply: Cherries are the very essence of summer and, like summer days, should be savored while they’re here.

Cherry Pudding Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup plus
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3½ cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Vanilla ice cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a shallow 3-quart baking dish and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, half of the sugar, baking powder, milk and oil. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the cherries, almonds, extract and remaining sugar. Spoon evenly over the batter. Bake 40–42 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving warm with vanilla ice cream.
Fresh Cherry Dessert Topping
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup kirsch or cherry brandy
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cherries and sauté 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and sauté 3 minutes more.
  2. Immediately remove from heat and add the brandy and extract. Mix well. Cool to room temperature, then use or refrigerate for later use.
Fresh Cherry Cobbler
  • 2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch or cherry brandy
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1½ cups biscuit mix
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Vanilla ice cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cherries, honey, brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice and brandy. Add the cornstarch, whisking until smooth. Stir into the cherry mixture.
  4. Spoon the cherry mixture into the prepared pan. Dot with 2 tablespoons of the chilled butter that is cut into pieces. Set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine the biscuit mix and granulated sugar. Cut in the remaining butter with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the egg and milk. Drop spoonfuls of the dough over the cherry mixture.
  6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cobbler is bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream.
Cherry Lattice-Topped Pie
  • 1 cup plus
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups cherries, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 recipe double crust pie pastry
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Vanilla ice cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch. Add the salt. Gently stir in the cherries, juice and extract. Set aside.
  2. Press one pastry in the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Trim any overhang to ½ inch. Place the second pastry on a lightly floured surface. Using a pastry wheel or large knife, cut the dough into ¾-inch strips.
  3. Spoon the cherry filling into the pie crust, mounding slightly in the center. Dot the top with the butter. Arrange the pastry strips on top of the filling to form a lattice pattern. Fold the bottom pastry over the ends of the strips, pressing to seal.
  4. Brush the top, but not the edges, with the milk. Sprinkle the remaining sugar evenly on top. Place the pie on a jellyroll pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake 55 minutes longer. Cover the edges with foil if it is browning too quickly. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving with vanilla ice cream.
Sweet Cherry Dessert Sauce
  • 1 pound pitted cherries
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup kirsch or cherry brandy
  • 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
  • 2 (¼-inch thick) lemon slices, seeded
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
  1. Combine the cherries, sugar, brandy, ginger and lemon slices in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 to12 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  2. Remove the lemon slices and discard. Stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Cool completely.
Note: Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Homemade Cherry Jam
  • 2½ cups chopped pitted cherries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4½ cups sugar
  • 1 (3-ounce) package liquid pectin
  1. Combine the cherries, juice and sugar in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add the pectin and stir constantly 1 minute.
  2. Skim off any foam that develops. Immediately fill hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and adjust the lids.
  3. Process in a boiling water bath 5 minutes. Place on a wire rack away from drafts to cool completely.

Cheery cherry facts

  • Cherries belong to the genus Prunus and are small stoned fruits.
  • Named for the Turkish town of Cerasus, the earliest references can be traced back to 300 B.C.
  • Cherries are classified as either sweet (for eating) or sour (for cooking).
  • Sour cherries are smaller and softer than sweet types.
  • Select those that are brightly colored, shiny and firm but not hard.
  • Fresh cherries remain in good supply through August.
  • Store them unwashed in the refrigerator.
  • Wash in cool water in a colander so they drain quickly.
  • To extend the shelf life, only wash the amount you are going to use.
  • Cherry pie was introduced during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in England.

Ask Chef Tammy

Email your cooking questions to Tammy Algood:

Chuck would like to know the best substitution for chervil. “I really like a recipe that uses a good bit of it fresh, but it’s not something I can readily find on the market. Growing my own isn’t an option,” he writes.

Chuck, chervil is in the parsley family, but has a slight anise-like flavor. So what I would do is mix two items that are readily available: fennel and parsley. The fennel will give you the anise flavor, but by mixing it with parsley (either curly or flat leafed), you won’t overpower the dish and will keep the flavor mild.

Anna Lee enjoyed a chiffon cake at a dinner recently. “I am a newbie at baking, so can you please tell me how this cake is so feather light?” she asks.

Anna Lee, chiffon cake is relatively new on the cake scene, being invented in the late 1940s. You are correct to describe it as light because it is nearly sponge-like. The texture is achieved by eliminating any form of solid fat (such as butter or shortening) and using oil instead. Stiffly beaten egg whites are folded into the batter before baking to enhance the light-as-air texture.

Katie asks how to make sure her onions saute evenly. “Some are dark and perfect while some of the others are still light in color,” she writes.

Katie, I’m wondering if you are using an inferior cooking vessel that is heating unevenly. I use cast iron with a tight-fitting lid, which conducts heat evenly and gives me perfect results. Place the fat you are using in the skillet and put over high heat. As soon as it melts and shimmers, add the onions and ⅛ teaspoon of salt sprinkled over the top. Cover and let cook 3½ minutes; stir and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook 4 minutes; stir and repeat. If the onions seem to dry out before you reach the right color, add a tablespoon or two of water.


About Author

Tammy Algood develops for The Tennessee Magazine recipes that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce. For more information about our recipes, contact Algood at

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