7.12.2012

Cherries!


Nothing screams summer to me more than cherry pie.

Well, ice cream, watermelon, and sun tan lotion screams it too, but cherry pie is definitely on that list too.
Any way, our friends Karen and Brian came to visit this past weekend. They are doing this kind of amazing trip for almost 6 weeks! Listen to their vacation – they flew into LA, stayed for a few days, went to Orange County, Newport Beach, then came up the coast to Big Sur, Cambria, and Monterey, then headed up to San Francisco to hang out with us, then they are staying in Berkeley for a night, then they are headed to Yosemite to camp for a week, then they’ll drive up the coast again to Portland (maybe even head into Washington they said) then they fly to Maui for three weeks!

Holy cow right!

I was happy we could be a part of their trip. They were super fun to hang out with and we had a blast together.

Plus, I got a check another thing off my summer bucket list! We went cherry picking!!

Cherry Orchard, Fairfield, CA

#4 Go to a U Pick It Farm - check and done.

We got almost 8 pounds of cherries and 2 varieties. Rainier and Sweet Brooks.

Me on Chris's shoulder trying the get the good ones on top!

Karen, sorting cherries.
So what did we do with 8 pounds of cherries?

Well, we made a pie!

We made jam!

And I threw some in a salad and keep some balance in my life.

And we still had enough left over for plenty of snacking. Maybe I can make one more thing with the lot that is left? Hmmm…

Any way, this whole making of cherry items was an all day affair. Very fun with a friend, so I highly encourage the pie and jam to be a joint project. Alone, it might have been a bit much.

The reward - totally worth it.

P.S. Karen let me use her fancy camera to take photos. Its crazy how my food looks so much more appealing with that level of technology. Birthday gift in my future??

Homemade Cherry Pie

Basic Pie Crust

Courtesy of Karen’s Grandma – Makes enough for a double crusted pie or 2 separate pie crusts
2 ½ cups of flour
2 sticks of butter (1 cup) softened a bit – but not too soft!
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
½ cup of cold water

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk together to combine. Add the butter on a low speed until the mixture becomes almost like coarse meal, and then add the cold water slowly until everything is combined into a ball.

Divide the dough into 2 even balls and wrap in plastic wrap Stick it in the freezer for about an hour.

In that hour, make the cherry filling!

Spiced Cherry Pie Filling

Inspired by Simple Bites
4 cups of pitted sweet cherries
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 ginger
Juice of ½ of a lemon, about 2 tablespoons

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add pitted cherries to the boil and blanch for 1 minute. Drain cherries and transfer them to a bowl. Cover with a towel, lid, or plastic wrap and set aside.

Back to the pot, mix together sugar and cornstarch. Slowly add the 1 cup of water, whisking to help dissolve everything evenly. Add the spices and heat over medium-high, until mixture is dissolved starts to bubble. Add the lemon juice and boil for about a minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in cherries and any accumulated juices. Now cover until you are ready with your pie crust.

Assemble!

Ok, take that dough out of the freezer. (If it is too hard, let it sit for 10-15 minutes until you can mold it.) With a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a circle so it fits into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. Once you get in the pie dish, crimp the sides by pinch a piece of the dough every ¼ inch around.

Then slowly pour in the pie filling.


Take the other half of the dough and roll it out just like you did with the first half. When it is rolled out as big as the first half, take a pizza cutter or kitchen shears and cut the dough into 1 inch pieces.

Follow these much better directions than what I can give you on how to make a lattice top.

Bake!

Preheat the oven to 400. Brush the lattice with egg wash (1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water - beat this and it's egg wash). Lightly dust the pie with sugar and place pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is bubbling rapidly all over, 60 to 70 minutes (tent with aluminum foil when crust starts to brown, about 40 minutes). Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool to room temperature, at least 2-3 hours.









We ate massive calzones for dinner, so we didn't mind waiting a few hours for dessert.
Brian, modeling his dinner. 
Now, on to the jam...

This has to be the easiest recipe for jam because its not really a recipe. I saw this on David Lebovitz's blog and it seemed so easy we just went for it.

The idea is to take as many cherries as you want, cook them down with some fresh lemon and add 3/4th the amount of sugar. (His example, if you have 4 cups of cooked cherries then add 3 cups of sugar.) Cook some more, and you are done.

Here's our adaption...

Simple Cherry Jam

4 cups of cleaned, pitted cherries
1 lemon, for juice and zest
1 3/4 cups of sugar



Place the cherries in a large, non reactive pot and add the zest of the lemon and juice. Cook down on medium to medium high heat for 20 minutes. Stir a few times to ensure nothing burns.


Stir the sugar and cook over medium high heat. The best jam is cooked quickly. Continue to stir, more frequently now, to make sure nothing burns. While you are doing this, place a plate in the freezer for an easy way to test to see if its set. 

Once the bubbles calm down and the jam looks pretty thick (coats the spatula fairly well) turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the frozen plate and return to the freezer. After a few minutes, when you nudge it if it wrinkles, it’s done. If not, just continue cooking until you reach that point.

Store in a clean jar in your fridge for 3-4 weeks.

This made enough for 2 jars. One for me and one for Karen and Brian to take with them on their camping trip.

And one more!

Summer Cherry Salad

1/4 cup, clean, pitted cherries, chopped
2 cups greens of your choice - Spinach and Arugula were mine
thinnly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons almonds

Toss this salad with a simple balsamic dressing and eat up! 

Happy Summer time everyone!

Erica

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