In this issue:
Yes, I know it's still July, but I'll be away from my computer for most of August, so this issue is being sent early.
Said to date back as far as 300 B.C., cherries were named after the Turkish town of Cerasus. Throughout the centuries, cherry trees have been praised for their deliciously succulent fruit as well as for their beauty. Tourists flock to Washington, D.C. every year to see the cherry blossoms on the enchanting cherry trees that were originally presented to America's capital in 1912 by Tokyo's governor. Two of the most popular varieties of cherries are the Rainier and the Lambert. The Rainier cherry is recognizable by its golden/pink blushed skin color. It's a finely textured variety with firm, clear flesh and colorless juice. The Rainier offers consumers a very sweet, delicate flavor and is usually more expensive. The Lambert is a heart- shaped, dark red cherry with a sweet, rich flavor.
Cherries are a great summertime snack and a delightful ingredient to add to backyard barbecues. A simple green salad, for example, turns extraordinary with the addition of cherries and hazelnuts. Grilled chicken with Fresh Cherry Salsa is a delicious change from the usual. And of course, a summer barbecue isn't complete without a fruit- filled dessert such as Cherry Shortcakes.
Mixed Greens with Hazelnuts and Cherries
Serves about 6
1 pound fresh sweet cherries, pitted and sliced
6 cups mixed lettuces
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/3 cup vinaigrette salad dressing
In a large bowl, combine cherries, lettuces, cheese and hazelnuts. Just before serving, drizzle salad with vinaigrette and toss lightly.
Fresh Cherry Salsa
Makes 3/4 cup
1 cup pitted fresh sweet cherries, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped green peppers
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash of bottled hot pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients; mix well. Refrigerate salsa for at least 1 hour prior to serving with grilled chicken or other foods.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pound fresh sweet cherries, pitted
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
To prepare filling, mix granulated sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a saucepan. Add cherries and cook, stirring, over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat; stir in lemon rind. Set mixture aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter pieces and cut into flour mixture with pastry blender or fork until mixture is crumbly. Add buttermilk and mix just until moistened. Form dough into ball.
On a lightly floured surface, pat dough into a flattened disk about 3/4-inch thick. With a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out 4 biscuits. Combine dough scraps and repeat to make 2 more biscuits. Arrange biscuits on ungreased baking sheet, and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack.
Just before serving, whip heavy cream with confectioners' sugar until mixture holds soft peaks. To serve, cut biscuits in half horizontally. Place bottoms on serving plates, spoon cherry filling over shortcake bottoms and top with whipped cream. Cover with biscuit tops.
The Northwest Cherry Growers are looking for the top sweet and savory cherry recipes for their "Cookin' with Northwest Cherries Contest." First prize in each category is $750; second and third place winners will receive merchandise of their choice from The Northwest Cherry Growers retail store. All entries will be judged on originality, appearance and taste; the winners will be featured in Northwest cherry promotions during the 1999 season. Contest deadline is August 15th. Entry forms available via Internet at www.nwcherries.com.
Grilling outside is a great alternative to heating up your kitchen. Grilling turns chicken, beef and other meats into summer delicacies - especially when they are marinated beforehand. Worcestershire sauce is ideal for use as a quick and easy ready-to-use marinade or as a base for simple marinade variations. Citrus Balsamic Marinade, for example, gives a tangy bite to grilled chicken or beef, two summer barbecue favorites.
To tenderize steak and bring out its rich flavor, marinate the meat for a few hours, or overnight, in a base that includes Worcestershire sauce, thyme, basil or other herbs. More delicate foods, like fresh vegetables, benefit from a quick, pre-grill marinade that balances sweet and tart seasonings.
Zesty Barbecued Beef Marinade
1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 cup red wine or cranberry juice
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme or basil
2 1/2 pounds boneless top loin, sirloin or flank steak
Combine all ingredients except beef; mix well. Pour marinade over meat, coating both sides. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours or overnight. Remove beef from marinade when ready to grill. Discard marinade. Grill beef until done as desired. Be sure to refrigerate leftover grilled beef.
Citrus Balsamic Marinade
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into parts or 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless top loin, sirloin or flank steak
Combine all ingredients except meat in a small bowl; mix well. Pour marinade mixture over meat, coating all sides, and marinate in refrigerator for two hours or overnight.
Remove meat from marinade when ready to grill. Discard marinade. Grill chicken until juices run clear or beef until done as desired.
Simply Grilled Summer Vegetables
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
Assorted fresh seasonal vegetables, cubed for grilling on wooden skewers, or thickly sliced for grilling (for example, zucchini, yellow summer squash, red and yellow peppers, red onions, asparagus, etc.)
Combine lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, honey and garlic in a cup; mix well. Pour marinade over cubed or sliced assorted vegetables, coating evenly. Marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
Remove vegetables from marinade when ready to grill. Baste vegetables with leftover marinade while grilling until vegetables are done as desired. Serve hot or chilled.
THE HOWIE MANDEL SHOW
I'm very excited to announce my appearance on The Howie Mandel Show, Wednesday, July 29th. Please check your local listings for the time and station. (The show is syndicated.) I will demonstrate how easy it is to make crème brulee, including making the caramelized top.
I'm off to Chicago to promote Elegantly Easy Crème Brûlée. If you live in the Chicago area, I'd love to meet you! Please email me for more info at Debscookin@prodigy.net.
GREAT NEW GADGET
If you love those deep-fried flowering onion appetizers that have cropped up on so many menus since the Bloomin' Onion debuted at Outback Steakhouses, here's a neat tool that will help you make them at home. Called the Onion Blossom Maker, the plastic gadget has three pieces. There's a slotted guide that holds the onion so you can make the cross-cut slices that give it its flower shape; a corer that punches out the root end of the onion after you've fried it, which causes the "petals" to come apart; and "the world's smallest cutting board," a plastic disk that fits in the bottom of the guide so you can cut other things besides onions. The Onion Blossom Maker is available for about $20 at local Bed Bath & Beyond stores.