Saturday, July 9, 2011

Boozy Cherry Gratin

This year I decided not to purchase a share of any Community Supported Agriculture. This is not because I didn't enjoy the amazing fresh, organic product or because I don't support the local programs. This year I want to explore more local farmer's markets and roadside stands...not to mention I don't want to feel pressured to eat arugula every day for 2 months. Right around the corner from where we live, Protinick Farm Stand that sells the best cherries. They have both black cherries, which are actually dark red, and Rainier cherries which are yellow and red and while they're never at a bargain price, they're entirely worth it! I tend to enjoy my fruit fresh and raw, and Chris is not crazy about cooked fruit, but I found a recipe on Lara Ferroni's blog for Boozy Cherry Gratin. Boozy. Cherry. Gratin. All three words conjure up irresistible thoughts of an addictive, gooey summer dessert that I just had to try! I followed the recipe exactly and here are the fruits of my labor:

Macerating Cherries
The Grand Marnier is so fragrant!
Whisking the custard. Custard is amazing along or
layered with raw macerated cherries as Lara suggests.

Gratin from the oven. Be patient and let it cool!
Sweet Cherry juice is hot straight from the broiler.
Pretty, layered in a glass dish.
The final product is light, not too sweet, creamy and tangy. The Grand Marnier and rose' wine gives a lovely boozy flavor in the back of your throat. This savory dessert is a stellar finish to any summertime meal!

Friday, July 1, 2011

eScape your routine and discover new flavors!

Few people I know dislike the flavor of garlic. It's widely used in many cuisines across the globe and it's great for your immune system. Not to mention keeping pesky vampires away! When we had our 1/2 CSA share last year, we enjoyed fresh garlic. The bulbs you find in your local grocery store are not fresh, they're dried. And they're often old and close to sprouting themselves. When selecting garlic close your eyes (or just look away so people don't think you have some weird relationship with garlic) and feel the weight. If it feels heavy for it's size, then it's probably in good shape. I'm often comparing similarly sized bulbs with one in each hand to find the best one. Hey, it's better than walking down the aisle with a cantaloupe in each hand like I did the other day...why did I park my cart so far away?!

This year I decided to skip the CSA and explore some different Farmer's Markets in the areas I work and live. Plus, Mom and Dad have planted wonderful veggies this year so I'll reap the benefits of their garden too. Last weekend I found garlic scapes. I thought they were snake beans which I had seen in the Asian Market or maybe some type of super scallions. The woman at the farm stand said you can use them just like the bulbs, so I bought a bunch!

Recently I've chopped them into vinaigrette for salads, sauteed them with mushrooms and roasted them with green and wax beans. In each method of preparation they're delicious! Raw they have a bite so you know it's garlic, but it's a much earthier, grassier flavor than the bulb. When sauteed or roasted they become caramelized, sweet and crunchy. This article about garlic scapes is great and I'll be trying the recipe as soon as I get a hold of another bunch tomorrow! The roasted beans, from Mom and Dad's garden, came out pretty tasty though:

Wash the beans and snap off the plant end--I used about 3 handfuls of beans. Dry them and place them in a medium bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chop 2 garlic scapes and toss them in with your beans. Set the toaster oven on broil and let it heat up a bit. (I use the toaster oven more frequently in the summer if I can. It's 90 degrees and we live on the top floor of a condo building. Saves on sweat and energy!)

Roast the beans until they become soft and brown in spots. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and return to the toaster oven until the nuts begin to brown. Remove the beans and use a microplane to zest a tablespoon of lemon on top and give the dish a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss and serve!

The photo's blurry, it's not your eyes.
I'll do better next time; I guess I was hungry.