A few years ago my husband Bruce and I spent the afternoon visiting with our friends Laura and Tom at their vineyard and fruit orchards in the Columbia River Gorge. Still new to Portland, the drive out there had us completely blown away by the light, the water and the indescribably beautiful rock formations. Looking across to the Washington side of the river I was reminded of the countryside in Tuscany, the greens and browns, undulating hills and breathtaking beauty. Except the Gorge has a wild, savage, majestic quality not found in Italy.
Columbia View Orchards grows a variety of cherries: Bings, Vans, Sweethearts, Royal Annes and Skeenas. All are sweet cherries, and you can pick them yourself or buy them from their charming fruit stand, hand-painted by Laura and friends.
Picking cherries is one of those meditative pleasures that is enhanced by the magic of this location. This year, as we picked the plump, perfectly ripe Skeenas, we saw the pears hanging on the trees in the next grove, getting ready for their turn. We returned home with a car full of cherries and a bottle of L’Amour Cerise, a captivating dessert wine made with Garnier estate-grown sweet cherries which I poured over the cherry chocolate ice cream I made with our pickings.
Crumb cake is a big thing in New York, like the bagel and the black-and-white cookie. This is my Northwest version.
Ingredients (Serves 12)
- 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups fresh pitted cherries, chopped
- 1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. I almost always use parchment paper as well. It’s wonderful. I have to say that I have had far too many encounters with the bottom of my cake still in the pan when I turn it out. Parchment is great stuff.
- In a mixing bowl cream 4 tablespoons of butter with 3/4 cup granulated sugar; add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth and well blended.
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture alternately with 1/2 cup milk, beating until smooth.
- Spread half the batter in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with the cherries and chocolate. Cover with the remaining batter. For topping, combine butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon and blend well to form crumbs.
- Sprinkle topping crumbs over batter and bake the cake for 35-40 minutes.
Ingredients (Serves 10-12)
- 2 cups of sweet cherries, pitted
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar for dusting, optional
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter and lightly flour a 9- or 10-inch baking dish. Toss in the cherries.
- In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, sugar, salt and flour until smooth.
- Add the milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the baking dish.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool. The clafouti will have puffed up quite a bit and will deflate while cooling. When cool dust the clafouti with powdered sugar, if desired.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
- 3 cups whipping cream
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Pinch salt
- 2 cups fresh pitted cherries
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, available in Middle Eastern or international food stores
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
- Pour milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 3 minutes.
- Add the cream, honey, sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour into 6 greased ramekins. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.
- In a small bowl combine the cherries with the pomegranate molasses and the balsamic vinegar.
- Run a knife around the rim of the ramekins to loosen and turn out onto a plate.
- Spoon the cherries over the panna cotta and serve.
Ingredients (Makes About 2 Cups)
- 4 cups halved, pitted fresh cherries or thawed and drained frozen whole cherries
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- Pinch of salt
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large baking pan with sides, combine the cherries with the orange juice. Bake until the cherries soften and the juices thicken, about 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Sprinkle the roasted cherries with the paprika and salt and stir. Serve with chicken, pork or on a sandwich of your choosing.
- 3 cups sweet cherries with the stem
- 1 cup chocolate chips or wafers
- ¼ cup halved almonds
- ¼ cup chopped almonds
- Using a cherry pitter, remove the pits from the cherries. Place an almond half inside the space where the pit used to live. It’s easy. Remember not to remove the stems because they will be needed later for dipping.
- Place the chopped almonds on a plate.
- Melt the chocolate. Dip the cherries in the melted chocolate and then into the chopped almonds. Allow to sit until the chocolate sets, at least 30 minutes.