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Archive for Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cherries picked for unusual appetizer

July 20, 2008

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Buy cherries that are shiny, firm and plump; keep them refrigerated. Eat them for the great flavor, but appreciate their health benefits. Animal studies show cherries may help lower cholesterol and prevent weight gain, and in human studies cherries ease arthritis pain and soreness.

Use this recipe for Cherry Chili Cheese Topping over cream cheese, Brie, Gruyere or any other cheese you like. Serve with sparkling Prosecco wine for a great start to a summer party.

Cherry Chili Cheese topping

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/3 cup water

1 pound cherries, pitted

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or ground cayenne)

Combine the cornstarch with about 1 teaspoon of the water, stirring until it is dissolved. Stir into the remaining water and combine that in a saucepan with the cherries, lemon juice, sugar and chipotle powder (or ground cayenne). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, occasionally using a spoon to break the cherries into smaller pieces. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and refrigerate until completely cool. (Or, put in the freezer, stirring occasionally, to hasten the process).

Serves 8. (about enough for 1 pound of cheese).

Grilling cherries gives them a slightly smoky and very appealing flavor. Add them to a salad with greens, roast chicken, thinly sliced red onions, crumbled goat or feta cheese, and mustard vinaigrette for a fast, delicious and unusual dinner.

Smoky Grilled Cherries

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 pound cherries, pitted

Light the grill. Toss the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt together; stir in the cherries. Lay large piece of foil flat on the work surface and coat half with cooking spray. Place the cherries on the coated half, then fold over the foil and crimp the edges to form an enclosed packet. Place the packet on the grill (medium heat) for about 10 minutes, or until the cherries are heated through but still a little firm. (Open the packet carefully to avoid getting burned by the steam.)

Serves 6.

Spoon this compote over ice cream for dessert or pancakes for breakfast; it keeps in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days and may be frozen.

Sweet Cherry Compote

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup orange juice

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 pound cherries, pitted

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, or until liquid is somewhat thickened. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to a bowl. Bring the liquid remaining in the pan back to a boil and continue boiling for 10 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour over cherries and cool before serving. Serves 6.

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