Not-so-hot child in the city

I have some very exciting news, today. Maybe not so much for you, but I have been jumping for joy without breaking a sweat. And that, my friends, is because we finally got some AC in our apartment! After a month’s worth of stuffy days and listless nights, making salads, ordering in, and otherwise avoiding the stove at all costs, we finally got our act together and one Home Depot credit card later, we have air conditioners. How do you think I celebrated this event? Obviously, I ran to the market at the crack of dawn, grabbed what was fresh and pretty, then ran home to turn on every single burner on the stove and get to work in an icy cool abyss. So really, you should be excited too, because now I have lots of wonderful things to share with you. First up, sour cherry sauce.

Sour cherries are, well, just that–sour. They are so pretty, you’ll be tempted to eat them plain, but one pucker face later, you won’t be asking for more. Unless you add some sugar, which is exactly what I set out to do. I thought about cherry pie, cherry turnovers, even cherry preserves, but I happened upon the simplest of preparations, “sour cherry sauce” over at Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen. Maria Rodale, the CEO of the publishing company bearing her last name and family tree, is a savvy businesswoman, a dedicated organic food advocate (read her Organic Manifesto ) and from what I’ve been reading, an informative and entertaining blogger, among other things. So thanks to Maria for my sour cherry sauce. The *organic* almond pound cake I served it with thanks you, too. It needed a little kick.

The sauce is super simple and can serve as a base to most cherry desserts; in fact, the most difficult part of making it might be locating the sour cherries (also known as tart, pie cherries, or red cherries). They have a very short harvest season, usually July, and you won’t be finding fresh ones in your local supermarket. I went to my green market rather early and there were only 3 pints available. If you can’t find sour cherries, you can still make a delicious cherry topping with a sweet cherry variety, just skip the sugar.

Next up, do you have a cherry/olive pitter? Me either. It’s not that difficult to do with your bare hands and I’m not sure that using a fancy tool makes it any easier. Once you remove the stem, it’s fairly quick and painless to ease out the pit while leaving the cherry mostly intact. As Maria mentions, discard any fruit that is more brown than yellow and look out for pesky little worms. Thankfully, I didn’t find any of those.

I covered one pint of washed pitted cherries with about an inch of water. According to Maria’s recipe, you should use 1/4 cup of sugar per cup of fruit. To my 2 cups of cherries, I added a 1/4 cup of sugar and a healthy glug of Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liquer) which both compensated some sweetness for the missing sugar and added a deeper dimension to the already beautiful crimson hue of the swirling sauce. A dash of lemon later (I find that almost every time a dish is “missing something” a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice does the trick)
to brighten it up, and we are finished with the ingredients. Cook it down, let it cool, and enjoy. Summer tastes good (with or without AC).

Sour Cherry Sauce

*This recipe easily doubles or triples; freeze some sauce for the dead of winter when you’re wishing for warm summer days.

1 pint sour cherries
1/4 cup sugar
2-3 tbsp Creme de Cassis (Chambord works, too)
juice from 1/4 fresh lemon
enough water to cover the cherries

Bring water and cherries to a boil over medium heat, adding sugar, liquer and lemon. Stir until sugar is dissolved, lowering the heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced (about 15-20 min). Serve over pound cake (almond pound cake was a wonderful complement), ice cream, yogurt, whatever you like.

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