Seasonal Cherries

August 12, 2016

British cherry season is definitely in full swing, there are lots of wonderful big punnets, overflowing with deep ruby cherries in the local greengrocers and supermarkets.  I have also noticed on my walks about Brighton, that lots of the restaurants in the City are embracing the season and using cherries in the dishes on their menus.

 

I am not one to miss out on snaffling a seasonal ingredient, especially when I can combine it with silky smooth vanilla panna cotta or slather it on rich Italian inspired chocolate ganache.

 

So that I can have wonderful cherries through out the year, I bought a couple of punnets to preserve them as a compote, that way whenever a cherry ‘need’ occurs, I have a jar of them at the ready.  Cherry compote is great drizzled over ice-cream, with pancakes, waffles or with the vanilla panna cotta that I have shared below.

To make the  cherry compote you will need;

  • 650g de-stoned fresh ripe cherries

  • 250g jam sugar (same as when we made the strawberry jam in my previous post)

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • Dash of amaretto liquor or brandy (optional)

In a large frying pan, add the cherries with 80ml of water and bring to the boil, when the cherries start to soften (about 10 minutes) then stir in the jam sugar and lemon juice along with the liquor, if using, and continue to cook.

Once the juices have become thick like a syrup, and the fruit is soft and almost breaking down you can carefully pour the mixture into a sterilised jar (for a guide to sterilising jars, head back to my previous post ‘Strawberry Fields’)

This quantity makes enough for one 370g jar.

The compote will keep in the fridge for months to come, if you can make it last that long.  I am using my compote on a couple of recipes that I think show cherries off at their best.

I have been looking for an excuse to make panna cotta for ages, and when I started writing this blog a few weeks ago panna cotta was on my list to be made.  If you haven’t had it, gosh, you have been missing a treat! Translated from Italian, panna cotta is ‘cooked cream’ and although you add a few more ingredients, it really is very simple.

Panna cotta should be beautifully smooth and creamy, the gelatine that’s added just about holds it together – use too much and you have something unpleasant and chewy.  You can use moulds, or as in my case, espresso cups work just as well.

 

 

When I was researching panna cotta recipes I discovered that there are in fact lots of different methods, using buttermilk, cocoa, single cream or double cream.  I decided to start with the basics of a simple vanilla flavoured panna cotta…let’s not get too wild!

Vanilla panna cotta

  • 150ml whole milk

  • 600ml double cream

  • 1 vanilla pod (best quality you can get)

  • 60g caster sugar

  • 2 sheets of gelatine, soaked in a bowl of cold water

  • 4 small moulds or espresso cups (lightly oiled inside with vegetable oil)

Slice the vanilla pod lengthways, and scrape the seeds into a medium saucepan  along with the vanilla pod, double cream and the whole milk.  Gently bring this mixture to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes (or until the mixture has thickened slightly.)

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.  Squeeze the water from the gelatine sheets and mix them into the cream mixture along with the caster sugar.

Sieve the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and leave to cool completely before pouring into the moulds.  Once cooled and in the moulds, place the moulds in the fridge to set.  This will take about 4 hours, but can be left overnight if you are making them ahead of time.

The panna cottas should now be set and have a lovely wobble to them.  To remove them from the mould, gently hold the mould in a bowl of warm water for a few seconds, then invert the mould and tip the panna cotta out onto a plate.  Serve with the wonderful cherry compote made earlier and some fresh cherries for good measure.

 

 

When you next spot a punnet of cherries grab them (pay for them!) and give these two recipes a go – it is summer after all.

I will put another fabulous recipe using the cherry compote up on the blog in a couple of days, that will give you time to whip a batch up and join in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I want to dedicate this post to Lamb, who loved cherries more than anyone I have ever known, he could easily polish off a big bowl in one sitting.

 

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