A Bowl Full of Summer

There are some things that I regard as “Food of the Gods” and cherries are one of them. It is cherry season here in Israel and that means the annual Cherry Picking Festival at Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim is on. Last year, I blogged about the festival and took a visiting colleague from Germany. This year we took Mimi from Israeli Kitchen and her youngest daughter. We brought a picnic, not quite as fancy as last year, but still quite tasty. Mimi brought a delicious cheese, mushroom and swiss chard tart. Mr BT made a tuna salad sandwich on a baguette, and also made a rocket, nectarine and walnut salad. I made a whole wheat pita with a runny chevre from Jacob’s Dairy in Kfar Haroeh in the Hefer Valley, near Netanya. We also had green olives and garlicky cured black olives from Morocco. We definitely didn’t starve.

Of course the most important reason we went was to pick the juicy ruby cherries, and we definitely succeeded in picking enough of them to make a couple of different dishes and still have a few to much on. I decided the first thing to make was frozen yogurt. I used low fat cow yogurt that I drained in a fine mesh sieve until most of the water had drained. You can use the greek-style yogurt they sell in the States. The yogurt tastes like a big bowl of ripe cherries and has a nice creaminess from the yogurt. Next time I am going to use sheep yogurt for a little extra tang. Mr. BT’s face lit up after eating it and he still has a glint of summer in his eyes. He said that it was good enough to have come from a gelateria in Firenze. Now the Baroness has a glint of summer in her eyes.

Frozen Cherry Yogurt

Serving Size: 6

3 cups of fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup sheep , goat, or cow yogurt

1 tablespoon cognac

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place the pitted and cut cherries in a medium size pan with the sugar and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the cherries have softened a little. Don't let them get mushy.

In food processor, with knife blade attached, pulse the hot cherries until the cherries are in small chunks. You can blend them smooth if you wish, but I prefer little chunks of cherry in my frozen yogurt. Place the cherry mixture in a medium size bowl and cool to room temperature.

If the yogurt is not really thick (Greek-style), then put the yogurt in a fine-mesh sieve and drain out as much liquid as possible; set aside.

When the cherries have cooled, add the yogurt, cognac and vanilla and mix until the yogurt is completely incorporated. Refrigerate the yogurt mixture for approximately 2 hours. Transfer the yogurt mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Take the frozen yogurt out of the freezer 15 minutes prior to serving.


Spring Flowers and Red Fruit

The flowers we planted at the new house are doing well as are our herbs. The round pot in the background of the picture above contains rosemary and lavender, which remind me of our trip to Provence.

We also planted za’atar. I can’t wait to put some on roasted chicken and in my homemade bread.

Does anyone know what these are called? I know the purple one is a petunia, but I am not sure about the others. I fell in love with them at the nursery. They picture does not show the amazing colors. They are a vibrant orange, vibrant red and vibrant fuchsia.

I just happened to have some sour cherries that were begging to be put into something, so I decided to make a creamy sour cherry clafoutis. This recipe is from one of my favourite food writers, Paula Wolfert, who is an expert on Southwestern French cuisine and Moroccan cuisine. My husband and I were lucky enough to be recipe testers for her new edition of The Cooking of Southwest France. The clafoutis recipe is very easy to make and you can substitute any summer fruit you like. It is also good with apricots or plums.

Limousin Cherry Clafoutis

Serving Size: 8

300g (1 pound) sour cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted (optional) and patted dry with paper towels

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup flour, plus more for dusting

Pinch of salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup half and half

50g (4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened), plus more for the dish

2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Confectioners' sugar for dusting

In a bowl, toss the cherries with all of the sugar except for 1 tablespoon. Spread the cherries out on a baking sheet and freeze for 1-1/2 hours. If you are using frozen cherries, remove them from the box and follow the instructions above.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk the 1/2 cup flour and salt. Whisk in the eggs. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the milk with 3 tablespoons of the butter until the butter melts. Whisk the warm milk into the flour mixture just until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk and the cream. Add the Cognac and vanilla, cover and let rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Prebaked Clafoutis

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Butter a 22 cm (9 1/2-inch) deep-dish pie plate or a well-seasoned iron skillet and dust with flour. Spread the cherries in a single layer in the pie plate, adding any sugar from the baking sheet to the cherries. Whisk the batter again and pour it over the cherries.

Bake the clafoutis just above the center of the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is just set and golden. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.


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