Monthly Archives: June 2010

Sour Cherry Season

Howard found sour cherries at the Charlton Orchards tent at the Lexington Farmers Market this week. Time for our annual summer cherry tart. Yum!

Cherries and almonds go so well together that I usually make my tart with a crumbly topping with almonds and almond paste. I was out of almond paste and didn’t want to run to the store. Instead, I took inspiration from this post on cherries from Dorie Greenspan. I made a variation of her crumble topping, using pistachios and cardamom, as the Pierre Hermé tart pictured in her post.

Howard and I shared the work of pitting the cherries. I make a tart instead of a pie, so a quart of cherries will fill the shell adequately. We have a cherry pitter, but it seems like the pits never fit through the hole, so working with a knife goes much faster. Between the two of us, the job went quickly and companionably.

The evening was a little hot for baking, but it was worth heating up the kitchen for a little while.

Sour Cherry Pie with Pistachio and Cardamom Topping

Pastry for a 9-inch pastry shell
Pistachio and Cardamom Crumble Topping (see below)
2 cups pitted sour cherries (1 quart unpitted)
1½ Tbsp sugar
½ Tbsp instant tapioca

Roll out the pastry and place in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. I fold the overhang back into the pan and press to the sides to strengthen the shell. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Butter a piece of foil or parchment paper, and place, buttered side down, in the chilled shell. Fill the foil with beans or other pie weights. (I keep a large jar of dried white beans that I use as pie weights. Once they cool, I put them back in the jar and reuse them.)

Bake in a preheated 450F oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil liner. Prick the bottom again if it has puffed up. Bake 10 more minutes without the foil, until lightly golden.

Reduce oven temperature to 375F.

Combine the cherries, sugar, tapioca, and ½ cup crumble topping. Fill the tart shell with the cherry mixture. Sprinkle the remaining crumble on top.

Bake for 30 minutes until topping is lightly brown and filling is bubbly.

Pistachio and Cardamom Crumble Topping
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

  • ½ c flour
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 7 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • ½ c pistachios

In the food processor, pulse together all the ingredients except the pistachios until coarse crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in the pistachios. You can make this a day or two ahead. Just put the topping in a covered container and store in the refrigerator.

Put all the ingredients, except the pistachios, in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms curds and clumps and holds together when pressed. Add the pistachios, pulse a couple of times and, if you’re not ready to make the crumble, turn the mixture out into a bowl, cover and chill until needed.

Bonus Beet Greens

Exciting news! Do you remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that Mama Robin was building a nest? Well, this morning, I see that three baby robins have hatched. She is diligently feeding them. I don’t know how long before they leave the nest, but I’m keeping my eye on them. This spot on the pergola in the shade of a non-blooming wisteria has proven to be a safe choice for many robin families well in years past.

On my last trip to Costco, I made an impulse buy. A new cookbook called Eating Local by Janet Fletcher. The book is filled with creative recipes for ordinary and unusual vegetables (and fruits) you might find at the farmers market. One recipe that caught my eye was Beet Greens and Stems with Whipped Feta.

I’ve probably mentioned how I enjoy the bonus of making something to eat from the scraps of the main event. Beet greens are one of those bonus ingredients. You get them for free with every bunch of beets. I’m sure many people discard them. I do when they look tired. However, when I bought beets last week at the Lexington Farmers Market, they were about as fresh as you can get. I cut off the greens and stored them in a large plastic container, sandwiched between damp paper towels, one on the bottom and one on the top. A week later, they still look great.

For this recipe, the greens and stems are separately boiled and then sautéed with garlic. They are served together with the whipped feta. I loved the whipped feta. I’m thinking of all the other things I can eat it with. For starters, I plan to spread some on the bun when I have a leftover lamb burger for lunch tomorrow.

I think this recipe would be equally good with Swiss chard. The stems on chard are much sturdier, so I think I would cut the stems into ¼-inch slices, instead of the 1-inch that I cut the skinny beet stems.

Beet Greens and Stems with Whipped Feta
Adapted from Eating Local by Janet Fletcher
Serves 2-3

¾ lb beet greens (use beets for something else)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Separate the beet leaves from the stems. Slice the stems into 1-inch pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beet leaves and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove leaves from the pot and place in a colander. Run cold water over the leaves to stop the cooking. (Leave the water boiling, we’re going to use it again.) Squeeze the greens dry and coarsely chop.

Let the pot of water return to a boil. Add the beet stems, and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Drain into a colander and again run cold water over them to stop the cooking. (This time you can just pour everything into the colander; we’re done with the water.) Pat the stems dry with paper towels (they will stain a dish towel, which is what I would normally use.)

In a skillet, preferably non-stick, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add half of the garlic and heat for 1 minute, until fragrant, but not brown. Add the beet leaves, and sauté until they are warmed. Toss with 1 tsp lemon juice. Season to taste. Remove to a serving plate.

In the same skillet, heat another 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add remaining garlic and heat for 1 minute, until fragrant, but not brown. Add the beet stems, and sauté until they are warmed. Toss with 1 tsp lemon juice. Season to taste. Remove to the same serving plate.

Serve with the whipped feta.

Whipped Feta
½ lb feta cheese, slightly crumbled
1 small clove garlic, minced
Dash of Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes)
1 tsp freshly chopped mint
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy.