I love Cherry Season, a few weeks ago I shared our family recipe for Cherry Carnival this week when I was in the store I saw all of the beautiful fresh cherries in season, and decided to buy some to try out a few new recipes, and of course plenty for everyone to snack on fresh.
For all the pitting, I like to use this basic cherry pitter, very simple to use, I have always used this style of pitter, and they work great. I bought a couple to have on hand so the kids can each have a pitter to pit their own, or help pit cherries for a recipe.
The first recipe I have wanted to try was a cherry reduction sauce. I once had a very good pork loin with a cherry reduction sauce at a restaurant, and have always wanted to try making one. I looked at many recipes online, but most included some form of alcohol, and since we are teetotalers, we don't use alcohol in our cooking. I found one recipe that just used a sugar and water base, so I took ingredients from all of the various recipes, and came up with my own. Here's My Recipe.
Cherry Balsamic Reduction
1 diced shallot
2 Tablespoons butter
3 1/2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon thyme
a little salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pitted and halved cherries
Saute shallot in butter in medium nonstick skillet, until shallot is slightly translucent but not browned, then carefully add water and sugar and stir to dissolve sugar, add in the rest of the ingredients, and bring to a simmer over medium heat stirring frequently until mixture has reduced to a syrupy sauce. This takes between 20-30 minutes, make sure to keep watch, and keep stirring, since this is a sugar base, it could burn or stick if not stirred, or left at too high of heat.
Here is what it looks like when it is done.
We served this over some thinly sliced steaks, which I marinated for 5 hours in about 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, juice of one lime, a few dashes of onion powder and garlic powder, a few twists of fresh cracked pepper, and a few dashes of thyme. You could do this in a ziploc bag, or a shallow dish, I did mine in a shallow dish, so I turned it part way through. We grilled these steaks and served them with cherry reduction and a side of "smashed" potatoes (boiled until cooked, drained red potatoes with their skins left on, then mashed with a little milk butter and sour cream). Here is a picture of our dinner (we each had half of a steak this size), everyone really loved it, the Cherry balsamic reduction was perfect with the steak, and I think it would also do well with pork or roast turkey.
Next I wanted to try some new cake ideas, I had seen a picture of a cherry upside down cake, and a polka dot cherry cake, so using my grandma's recipe for a one egg cake, I made my own version of each. Here is the recipe for the one egg cake.
One Egg Cake
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
4 T. softened butter- I melt mine almost all the way.
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. lemon extract (optional- I do not use this)
Cream butter, add sugar gradually and beaten egg. Add sifted flour and baking powder and milk, mix, add vanilla. Mix until thoroughly blended- I often do this by hand. Bake in a greased round cake pan. No time was given in the original recipe- I believe mine took 25 minutes- but start checking around 20 minutes- cake should be raised, and lightly golden, and knife should come out clean from center when done.
Cherry Upside Down Cake
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
4 T butter
about a cup and a half of washed, pitted and halved cherries
1 cup brown sugar
plus batter of One Egg Cake above
In a round cake pan put 3-4 T. butter and melt in oven while you are mixing cake. Mix up One Egg Cake batter- keep an eye on butter- remove from oven when melted, or melt on oven top and pour into cake pan melted.
When butter in cake pan is melted remove from oven and make sure to swirl butter around bottom of pan- then put a thin layer of brown sugar over the butter- start with half a cup- add more if needed to cover bottom of pan- then spread cherries on top of brown sugar. At this point I like to spray pan edges with pan spray just to make sure sides of cake don't stick, then pour cake mixture over the cherries and carefully spread evenly to edge of pan. Bake for 25 minutes- might take a little longer- cake should be raised and golden, and knife inserted in center should come out clean. When cake is done, remove from oven, and while the cake is still hot, carefully invert cake to cake plate - put cake plate upside down over cake- using oven mitts carefully hold both plate and cake pan while flipping- give topping a few seconds to settle down, then carefully remove pan. I decided to garnish mine with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
Here it is before the powdered sugar-
Here is our Cherry upside Down cake with powdered sugar-
For the second cake, I decided to make it a Sour Cream Cherry Polka Dot Cake
I made one recipe of the one egg cake, added to the recipe 1/2 cup sour cream and mixed it in well, then folded in a 3/4 cup of washed, pitted, and halved cherries. I poured the batter into a cake pan sprayed with cooking spray, then topped the cake with more cleaned, pitted, and halved cherries. I just very gently pressed each cherry onto the top, so it still sat above the batter, this is a dense cake, so the cherries shouldn't sink, cover the whole top with a good amount of cherries. Then bake at 350F. for 20-30 minutes until brown and baked through. I decided to top this cake with a simple glaze made from powdered sugar and milk and a little vanilla.
Here is the cake before the glaze-
Here is the cake with the glaze-
You can also use this one egg cake recipe to make Pineapple Upside Down Cake http://aprilshomemaking.blogspot.com/2011/05/pineapple-upside-down-cake.html , as well as use it as the base of a coffee cake by adding your favorite spices, fruits, and other ingredients you may want in your coffee cake. This is a wonderful recipe to work with.
Hope everyone has a chance to pick up some fresh cherries this season- what is your favorite way to use cherries?