In the Kitchen: Cherry Halo Pie

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s sour cherry season at The Manor! Well, it was sour cherry season — we finished picking the other day. As I write this, I’m listening to the birds chirping as they eat the last of the fruit still lingering on the tree. I’ve still got pounds and pounds of cherries to use, and I’ve been working away in the kitchen like mad for the past two weeks.

I had the troupe and apprentices over to teach them how to make old-school G-strings (instructions are in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming!) and served them this cherry pie, from the 1953 cookbook 250 Superb Pies and Pastries.

It’s very simple to make and the presentation is lovely. Bonus: you don’t have to deal with a top crust.

You will need:
Sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, salt, cherries, butter, heavy cream, and vanilla.

First, make a pie crust for a 9″ pan. The recipe I used is below, but you could use your favorite recipe or even buy a crust. I promise I won’t judge.

Mix up the sugar, salt, cornstarch, tapioca, and pitted cherries and pour into the prepared crust. Dot with butter. Bake at a high temperature for a short time then reduce the heat to moderate and bake until done.

Let the pie cool and the filling thicken.

Whip heavy cream to soft peaks, add sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff. Spread around the pie, leaving the center open, so it looks like a halo.

Judging from the amount left over (none!), this one was a winner.

Cherry Halo Pie
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart cherries, pitted
1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 recipe Plain Pastry
1 recipe Whipped Cream Topping

Mix sugar, salt, cornstarch, tapioca, and cherries together. Line 9″ pie pan with pastry, add cherry mixture. Dot cherries with butter.

Bake at 450F for 10 minutes; reduce temperature to 350F and bake 25 minutes longer.

Let cool. Spread 1 recipe Whipped Cream Topping around pie, leaving the cherries in center uncovered.

Plain Pastry
2 cups sifted flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
4 to 6 Tablespoons ice water

Sift flour and salt together and cut in shortening. Add water a little at a time until mixture will hold together.

Divide dough into 2 parts. Roll one out on a floured board. Line the piepan with it.

This makes two crusts. Since the pie only needs one, you can freeze the other piece of dough until you need it.

Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip cream until it make soft peaks. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until cream holds stiff peaks. If you have the time, chill your beaters and bowl before whipping the cream and always make sure your cream is cold. It will whip much faster if everything is cold.

Enjoy!

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Published in: on 16 July 2019 at 2:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Cherry Bounce

Dear Constant Reader,

It seems you all like my cooking posts best (at least according to my site stats), so I’ll endeavor to give you more!

This latest recipe is very vintage — it dates back to at least the 18th century! As you, dear Reader, know well, early summer brings cherries to The Manor and a desperate attempt to use them and preserve them. This year I was determined to try Cherry Bounce, a cordial popular in colonial days. It was said to be a favorite of George Washington.

Cherry bounce is made with cherries (or any stone fruit, though you’d have to change the name…), sugar, and liquor. Washington liked his with brandy, but you can also use rum or whiskey or vodka. Each adds its own characteristics to the bounce. Sometimes the fruit is used whole, sometimes it’s pressed for its juice. You can also add spices or even fresh herbs. For a lower proof, add some water. I’ve seen so many variations.

We used a very simple recipe that’s much like my Christmas fan dance: Sugar Rum Cherry. I wanted to use rum, as it’s very New England and also my favorite spirit. I decided not to add any spices as I feared the results might taste like cough syrup (based on an unfortunate experiment with raspberry cordial once).

Take a big glass jar with a lid. Add a pound of sugar and then a little rum to dissolve. Add a pound of cherries and mash them a bit. Pour a quart of rum over it all. Let it sit in a sunny place for a week, then store in a dark place for at least a month. Strain the liquid and pour into bottles.

We made two versions, each with 2 pounds of sugar, 2 pounds of cherries, and a 1.75 L bottle of rum. The first was a white rum and we put the cherries in whole and then bashed them around with a spoon after the rum was added. The second was gold rum and we bashed the cherries into the sugar with a potato masher before adding the rum.

We let the jars of bounce sit for a week in the pantry and I would stir them every day to make sure the sugar stayed in solution and further bruise the cherries. Then we stashed them in a cabinet for about 2 months. I strained out the cherries and poured the bounce back into the jars. The white rum bounce is pretty clear, but the gold, where the cherries were crushed, has a lot of sediment. I need to find some attractive bottles to decant the bounce into. When I bottle it, I’ll strain it too (coffee filters work well for that).

So, how does it taste? Very good. It’s intensely cherry. I think the white is actually more cherry-flavored than the gold. The gold has more of a boozy taste. And they’re both quite strong. It’s a nice dessert tipple to be drunk out of wee glasses. I’m sure some creative sort could come up with a cocktail that uses cherry bounce.

I was going to toss the cherries, assuming they had given up all their cherry goodness and no longer tasted like anything. However, upon sampling, they still taste like cherries and very much like rum. I pulled out all the whole ones and froze them. They’ll be great over ice cream. Maybe I’ll even flame them like cherries jubilee.

Martha Washington’s original recipe, if you want give it a try:
Extract the juice of 20 pounds well ripend Morrella cherrys. Add to this 10 quarts of old french brandy and sweeten it with White sugar to your taste. To 5 gallons of this mixture add one ounce of spice such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmegs of each an Equal quantity slightly bruis’d and a pint and half of cherry kirnels that have been gently broken in a mortar. After the liquor has fermented let it stand close-stoped for a month or six weeks then bottle it, remembering to put a lump of Loaf Sugar into each bottle.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 9 October 2018 at 11:02 am  Comments (1)  
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In the Kitchen: Spiced Cherry Soup (1958)

Dear Constant Reader,

For a couple of weeks in late June and early July, it’s sour cherry season at The Manor. We are constantly picking, pitting, and cooking cherries from the orchards (all right, it’s just one tree). I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting cherry recipes to add to our arsenal of favorites.

Recently Scratch gave me a clutch of vintage recipe pamphlets which included Good Housekeeping’s Around the World Cookbook: specialty recipes with a foreign flavor. I was surprised at the variety of countries represented and the sophistication of the recipes, especially compared to some other cookbooks of the era and their idea of “international” cuisine.

Hungary was one of the countries well represented with many recipes. Since Scratch was recently in Budapest, Spiced Cherry Soup (Hideg Cseresnyeleves in Hungarian) sounded perfect. It specifically calls for sweet cherries, but of course I used our sour ones.

Pit and stem cherries. Remove strips of zest (no white pith) from half a lemon. Stick whole cloves into the peel. Put the cherries and lemon peel into a sauce pan along with a cinnamon stick, some sugar, salt, and water. Simmer. Stir in tapioca and bring to a boil. Add red wine then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Remove lemon peel, cloves, and cinnamon then chill.

Serve cold garnished with a thin lemon slice and a dollop of sour cream.

It make a deliciously tart and refreshing soup, great as a starter or as dessert. The tapioca thickens it, but doesn’t make it utterly gloppy, which I had feared. I think the lemon garnish is optional, but the sour cream (in the original recipe as “commercial sour cream”) is mandatory.

I made only one change (besides using sour instead of sweet cherries). In the original recipe, you add the wine after taking the soup off the heat. I find the raw alcohol taste unpleasant and prefer to let it simmer for another moment or two to cook out some of that harshness.

Here’s the recipe, slightly modified:

1 lb. cherries (washed, pitted, and stemmed)
1 lemon
6 whole cloves
3” piece of cinnamon stick
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups water
3 Tbs. quick-cooking tapioca
1 cup red wine

With vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemon in strips; stick cloves into peel.

In saucepan, combine cherries, lemon rind with cloves, cinnamon, sugar, salt, water. Simmer, uncovered, 15 for minutes.

Gradually stir in tapioca; bring to boil; then stir in wine; remove from heat; allow to cool. Remove and discard lemon peel, cloves, and cinnamon; then refrigerate until serving time.

To serve, ladle ice-cold soup into individual soup bowls or plates; top each serving with a lemon slice and spoonful of sour cream.

Makes 4-6 servings

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Published in: on 18 July 2017 at 2:47 pm  Comments (1)  
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Even More Cherries

Dear Constant Reader,

First of all, I’ve been sending out missives for 4 years now (as of yesterday). Thank you for being my constant reader!

The orchards at Stately Babydoll Manor continue to produce cherries, so I continue to make stuff. There’s a reason I was dubbed The Martha Stewart of Burlesque…

Cobbler, from a recipe from 1934

Dried

Preserves

Pickled


Granita

And then there was this…

That was roasted pork loin in a Pyrex dish, after pouring in Scratch’s lovely Russian sauce of sour cherries, orange zest, and fine Madeira. There was an earth-shattering kaboom that scared the heck out of me and shrapnel scattered around the stove. Fortunately, no one was hurt, the pork and the unpoured sauce was salvaged, and the oven hasn’t been this clean in years.

M2

Published in: on 13 July 2015 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cherry Season

Dear Constant reader,

It’s sour cherry season at Stately Babydoll Manor and the orchards are simply dripping with fruit. We’re picking every day and have hardly made a dent.

It’s hard to tell from the photo tell how large the big bowl is, but that’s probably four or five pounds of cherries and it’s so full that there was no room to add the cherries in smaller bowl Scratch is holding.

I’ve been cooking like mad to take advantage of this precious fruit. So far I’ve made:

clafouti

sour cherry flamingo

syrup

sour cherry-rhubarb mousse

crumb cake

I’ll probably make cobbler tonight. There are also cherries drying in the dehydrator and preserves planned soon. Any cherries that don’t used will get frozen. The season is all too short and a little frantic, but so delicious.

Now back to your regularly scheduled burlesque.

M2

Published in: on 6 July 2015 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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