Chowing on Cherries Right Now

Normally my Friday e-mails run the gamut from simple nibble to something grilled to a good ole salad during any given month. But in June, I uncharacteristically sent out two cherry-centric recipes in the space of three weeks. But I defended my actions with the simple statement that cherries are my favorite fruit and, frankly, I can’t get enough of them right now (and, I’ve discovered now that Dad’s under the same roof, neither can my father).


I never was much of a fruit lover before I started eating seasonally. But now, forget it. I eat strawberries by the basket when they’re ripe from the fields, and a couple pints of cherries (rounded out by a good number of nectarines and peaches) a week when they’re at the farmers market. When “fruit” stops meaning a bag of apples you pick up at the supermarket whether it’s October or June, it starts to take on more depth … both in flavor and that amorphous emotional appeal.

First there’s the wait. The months and months of eating (and, yes, enjoying) the apples and pears, and then the oranges and grapefruit. Then there’s the anticipation. I still remember when, at three years old, Noemi clenched her fists and gave a little shiver of joy as she exclaimed “mommy, it’s almost strawberry season!” And that pretty much says it all; if you truly eat according to what’s in season, you get that excited about tasting your first strawberry come May. Then, there’s the headlong-rush-into-sucking-every-ounce-of-pleasure-you-can-from-these-sweet-fruits-of-the-season-before-they-go-away-again-in-just-a-few-weeks stage.

Which is where I am now. Hence, the reason for gorging on as many cherries as I can muster.

So go get yourself some cherries and ENJOY!

Cherry Apricot Almond Tart

This tart has the trifecta effect of cherries + almonds + apricots. And it’s gorgeous. I love how this tart gives off both a casual, rustic feeling and a sense of refinement at the same time. Get ready for it to be the talk of the barbecue.



Love is a Bowl of Sweet Cherries: A Primer

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I love cherries. Favorite yogurt flavor? Cherry vanilla. Favorite Starburst? You guessed it. So when, at the farmers market yesterday, the man with the cherries kept offering me deals, I happily obliged and arrived home with three—count ‘em, three—pints of cherries. That’s a pint per person in my household. (Just for the record … Noemi was no help. She’d already polished off a pint of strawberries, an apricot and a plum and was totally egging me on with the cherries. And we’d been at the market no more than ten minutes.)

Cherries are actually a tiny stone fruit, of the same family as plums and peaches and even almonds. They’ve been cultivated around the Mediterranean region for over 2,000 years; probably as prized then as they are now for their thin skin, luscious bite and full, sweet flavor. They’re also a good source of both vitamin C and lutein, so they’re beauty’s more than skin deep. Here are three sweet types to try:

Bing Cherries – Bing cherries are the ubiquitous plump, blackish-red variety. They’re firm and plump and burst with a ridiculous amount of flavor for such a tiny fruit. Seek out ones that are dark and firm, without brown spots or blemishes and eat them out of hand or, if you can keep them around, use in the sorbet below.

Oxheart Cherries – I had a funny introduction to Oxhearts; a description given to sweet red cherries with a distinctive heart shape. We have a tree growing next to our driveway that began bearing heart-shaped red fruit. Christopher didn’t want me to eat them (he was convinced they were some exotic poisonous fruit), but then a friend identified them as Oxheart cherries and I forged forth. My reward was a tender, super-juicy fruit with an intense flavor not unlike a Bing. And it had been right there under my nose all along.

Rainier Cherries –  Rainiers, pioneered at Washington State University in 1952, are gorgeous. I think they look a bit like oversized red currants … or as if the sun were shining from within a Bing. Rainers’ rosy skin encloses sweet golden flesh with a slightly more subtle flavor than its red counterparts. They’re fun to experiment with, but also fussy on the tree and priced at a premium.

So live it up with a bowl of cherries while you still can this summer!

Cherry-Basil Buttermilk Sherbet

This sherbet is like summer in a bowl: light, refreshing, sweet and perfumed with the quintessential summer herb (which has a surprising affinity for cherries). It’s also ridiculously simple to make. It can get icy when frozen too hard, so eat it fresh from the ice cream maker or leave it on the counter to soften a bit if pulling it from the freezer. And here’s a little food trivia for you: Did you know that sherbet goes back to the Middle Eastern fruit-juice-and-water drink charbet? It has evolved into a dessert that’s lighter than ice cream — though in this case, low-fat buttermilk lends it a rich, tangy note.