A number of you requested recipes for the last post, both in the comments section and by email. Finally, finally, here is both my mother's Cherry Borscht and the Sour Cherry Streusel Cake, a recipe originally introduced to me by that culinary wonder of a gal-pal Ernie, whom you'll recognize from the comments section of this blog. Sorry for the delay in posting recipes -- we've been in vacation/crisis mode, which has included many serious last-minute changes, so blogging among other things has definitely suffered.
Sour Cherry Borscht
6 cups sour cherries (Montmorency preferred), washed and stemmed, but left whole with pits intact
6 cups water (or enough to cover by about an inch in a shallow pot)
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste)
pinch of good cinnamon (Penzey's Vietnamese, for example)
Sour cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt for serving
Place cherries, water, sugar and cinnamon in a pot. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until cherries are tender but not falling apart or losing their skins. Beat the two eggs well in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in hot cherry juice from the pot, a tablespoon at a time, so that eggs become hot but don't curdle. When a cup or so of juice has been amalgamated, pour the egg mixture back into the hot pot of cherries and liquid and stir well. Taste for sweetness, and add more sugar if you like. We actually like this quite tart. It should taste richly of sour cherries, but the flavor deepens exponentially once the soup is chilled. Let the mixture cool to room temp, and then chill for several hours.
Serve cold with sour cream or one of the other options dolloped on top. Warn others about the pits, and bring a little dish to the table for spitting out pits. You could, I suppose, pit the cherries before you make the soup. We never did, so I never will. The pits supposedly add to the flavor. While spitting out pits may seem inelegant to some, I think of it as one of those messily fun and companionable summer eating activities, like cracking lobster or crabs, or eating watermelon.
Sour Cherry Streusel Cake
I'll give you this with the modifications I made to it, which were to add almond paste, almond extract, and to make half again as much of the streusel topping, since almond is lovely with cherries, and the first time I made this cake the topping was a little skimpy for me. This is also sumptuous made with other fruits -- peaches, apricots, plums, berries. I made it not long ago with a combination of strawberries (which I generally never use for baking) and black raspberries, and it was quite wonderful
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 oz. almond paste
1 cup (250 mL) half-and-half or light cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp grated lemon zest
4 - 5 cups (1 L) pitted, drained sour cherries or other seasonal sliced fruits
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1 generous cup (260 mL) brown sugar
3/4 cup (190 mL) butter, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Using the work blade, cut in butter and almond paste to make coarse crumbs. Beat egg in a bowl; stir in cream, zest and extracts. Pour this slowly through the feed tube of the food processor, and pulse the mixture until just mixed -- it should make a quite thick batter. Drop by spoonfuls into a parchment-lined, generously buttered 13 x 9-inch (3-L) cake pan and spread evenly. Top with cherries in a single layer.
Combine flour and brown sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork to make coarse crumbs (or you can do this first, in the food processor, before you make the batter and reserve it). Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake on middle rack of oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is golden. Place pan on a rack and let cool. Cut into squares and serve.