Wine Cherries!

Eugenia Bone is a genius. Her book, “The Kitchen Ecosystem” has inspired me to look at food differently, particularly when it comes to waste. But that’s another issue. Right now it is cherry season. I’ve already plundered my friend’s sour cherry tree (by her invitation, of course) and made a luscious sour cherry pie and some jam. Now it is on to one of my favorites: wine cherries. Wine cherries should be huge, succulent and sweet. Bing!

I used Eugenia’s recipe from her book “Well-Preserved,” making one small change. I added a dozen juniper berries as well as the cloves. It’s a simple recipe that gives you a versatile ingredient for sweet and savory dishes as well as the perfect cocktail garnish. Maraschino cherries, even if they aren’t the scary, non-food kind, have nothing on these babies when it comes to a Manhattan. Trust me on that one.

Here is the recipe. I made 10 half-pints and had some syrup leftover, which I cooked down until very thick and truly syrupy. It gave me a half-pint of fantasticly flavorful syrup, some of which I will be using shortly on a pork tenderloin with braised Swiss Chard stems – again, thanking Ms. Bone for inspiring me to do something with those colorful stems besides compost them.

WINE CHERRIES, adapted from Eugenia Bone’s “Well-Preserved”

2 bottles of red wine (think Trader Joe’s or BotaBox cheap here)
2 cups sugar
2 cups orange juice
24 whole cloves and 12 juniper berries
Rind, pith removed, from one large orange or 3 tangerines/clementines
4 pounds Bing cherries, pitted

Have 10-12 half-pint jars sterilized and hot. Lids and rings too. You know the drill.

Place all ingredients except the cherries in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to boil, stirring to prevent burning. Add cherries and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon and set aside, covered, to keep them warm.

Return the liquid to a boil and reduce by half  – about 15 minutes longer.

Fill hot jars with cherries. Don’t pack tightly, so the cherries keep their shape. Cover, leaving 1″ headspace, with hot syrup. Seal and process in hot water bath for 20 minutes.

As I said, I had some syrup leftover. I removed the orange zest, cloves and juniper berries, and reduced the syrup until it was very thick and syrupy, probably another ten minutes. That stuff is gonna be wicked on this tenderloin. I also had about a dozen cherries left over, which will find their way on some of that Oatscream I made last week.

 

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We All Scream for Oatscream

Oatscream is a dairy-free frozen dessert that I first tried in Minneapolis, at the greatest grocery store ever, The Wedge. I was instantly in love. This week, after pining for a scoop of chocolate Espresso Bean Oatscream, I decided to try my hand at my own. It’s been so long since I had any that I am not sure how close I got, but I must say, this is mighty good!

Oatscream

OATSCREAM BASE

1-1/2 cups oat flour (you can grind your own from rolled oats if you don’t have oat flour)

3 cups unsweetened vanilla-flavored coconut drink (I used So Delicious)

1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar or preferred sweetener (adjust if using stevia, of course, and be sure to use vegan sugar if you want to be purely vegan about it).

1 tsp vanilla extract

Dash of salt

Flavoring of choice. I used 1 cup of chocolate-covered espresso beans.

 

PROCESS

Blend the oat flour and the coconut beverage in a blender until smooth. Allow this to sit out for an hour, then give it another blend.

Add the sweetener, vanilla, salt, and the coffee beans, then blend again until everything is well mixed and the coffee beans are ground as fine as you want them.

Refrigerate the mixture for at least four hours, and preferably overnight. This allows the oat flour to absorb the liquid, and thicken nicely. It will be grainy and runny if the starches in the oats aren’t softened.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker freezing chamber. You can also add other flavors instead of the coffee beans – fruits, jams, nuts, whatever. Let it churn according to the manufacturer instructions. Mine was Ready after about 25 minutes. Serve it immediately or scrape the Oatscream into a freezer-safe container or a loaf pan lined with wrap.

I topped our scoops (because I just don’t know when to quit) with a vegan chocolate crackle coating, using 5 ounces of dark chocolate and 4 ounces of unrefined coconut oil that were melted and stirred to combine. Couldn’t get easier.

Why vegan ice cream? Why not? It’s really tasty, pretty simple, and you’ve got something really tasty that everyone can eat.