Our Italian neighbors in the village have a big cherry tree, and all the lower limbs hang out over the lane. Since the Italians don’t arrive until July, all that luscious fruit is ripe for the taking.
The minute some of the cherries ripen, they seem to vanish mysteriously. We actually have permission to pick them, unlike most folks passing by, but we have to sneak out early and pluck the ripe ones daily, if we are to get any at all. They are, it seems, irresistible for hungry thieves.
Les cerises grow well here, so there is an abundance of cherry dishes on local tables at the moment. The French like to make clafouti with their cherries, which is a sort of custardy-cake with whole cherries (here is Julia Childs’ recipe). But the French often do something that we would consider bizarre: they leave the pits in. They believe that baking them with the pits retains more of the flavor. But at a dinner party, when everyone is struggling with the cherry pits in their dessert, it seems a bit awkward.
The best thing they make here with cherries is cerises à l’alcool. Basically this is cherries soaked in a clear alcohol; they use the local eau de vie or Marc de Bourgogne (translation: moonshine), but vodka will do. When you have your café after a meal, you serve it with a couple of the drunken cherries on the side, and the combination is delicious. I found a recipe in English, and photo at right, at Brooklyn Homesteader.
Tonight I will make a local favorite, duck in cherry sauce. David Tanis had a recipe in the New York Times this week which he says is easy enough for a week-night, we'll see!
The other day I scored a big bowl of cherries from the Italians' tree, and I was casting about for something to make. About the only thing I had on hand was condensed milk and some marscapone cheese, so in about five minutes I whipped up a no-bake dessert that was surprisingly tasty.
Please do share any good cherry recipes you have, there is still some fruit on that Italian tree!
RECIPE: Frozen Cherry-Chocolate Bars
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and stir it into 1 cup of cookie crumbs (I used speculos crumbs, which are cinnamon shortbread cookies, but chocolate cookies or graham crackers will work, or any crunchy cookie). Press the mixture into a 9” square pan.
Meanwhile melt 8 oz. (200 grams) semi-sweet chocolate over hot, not boiling water, then set aside to cool slightly.
With an electric mixer, beat 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz, 400 gr) with 1 lb. (500 gr) marscapone cheese and a teaspoon of vanilla. Taste for sweetness; add a squeeze of lemon juice for tartness if you like. Fold in a cup (or more!) of cherries, pitted. Carefully spoon mixture over the crust and smooth it out.
Drizzle the chocolate evenly over the top of the cheese mixture, and spread it out evenly. Freeze until firm and cut into bars.
In the COMMENTS: Natalia has done us one better with the pot pie, using lobster--c'est chic. Jan, (of the Speaking of France blog--Jan has a daughter in France), tomato tarts are a French classic, and I'll be making them as soon as those first tomatos arrive.
And folks are still contributing expressions from the blog two weeks before (just scroll down), so check back again, especially to read the comment by Rachel (of And Then Make Soup), who shares some Texas expressions. Love 'em, Chickenlips!
From our friends at European Market, you'll find some cool Father's Day gifts from Europe, for your Europhile dad (is there such a word?).