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Archive for Washington’s Birthday

RECIPE: Cherry Cheesecake With Chocolate Glaze

chocolate-cherry-cheesecake-bettycrocker-230

Cherry cheesecake with chocolate accents.
Photo and recipe courtesy Betty Crocker.

 

Next in our choice of cherry recipes for Washington’s Birthday (February 22nd) is a cherry cheesecake with a twist: a chocolate crust and chocolate glaze.

Prep time for this Betty Crocker recipe is just 35 minutes, plus another 5 hours and 50 minutes for baking and chilling.

You can make this recipe ahead of time and freeze it. To do so, first bake the cheesecake; cool and glaze. Freeze it until the glaze is set. Then wrap it tightly and freeze it for up to 1 month. Before serving, unwrap and thaw the cheesecake in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.

Make it again on April 23rd, National Cherry Cheesecake Day.

RECIPE: CHERRY CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE

Ingredients For 16 Servings

Ingredients For The Crust

  • 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 can or jar (21 ounces) cherry pie filling—or make your own with the recipe below
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. In medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients; mix well. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of an ungreased 10-inch springform pan.

    2. BEAT the cream cheese in large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sugar and almond extract until smooth. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream; blend well.

    3. SPOON 3-1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture into crust-lined pan, spreading evenly. Carefully spoon 1 cup of the pie filling evenly overthe cream cheese layer (reserve remaining pie filling for the topping). Spoon the remaining cream cheese mixture evenly over the pie filling.

    4. BAKE for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until the center is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour.

    5. MAKE the glaze: In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup whipping cream to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate chips until melted.

    6. LINE a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Remove the side of the springform pan. Place the cheesecake on the paper-lined cookie sheet. Spread the glaze over the cooled cheesecake, allowing some to flow down the side.

    7. REFRIGERATE at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve topped with the remaining pie filling.

     

    MAKE YOUR OWN CHERRY PIE FILLING

    Some brands of pie filling are distinctly better than others. A safe bet is to pick up an organic brand. The extra cost is worth it.

    For a luxury experience, we use a jar of sour cherry pie filling from Chukar Cherries (it’s $14.95).

    But if your discriminating palate doesn’t like any canned cherry filling, it’s easy to make your own with just 20 minutes of prep time, and 1 hour 10 minutes of cook time.

    RECIPE: CHERRY PIE FILLING

    Ingredients For An 8-Inch Pie

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen tart (Montmorency) cherries; or canned cherries in water (see photo at right)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 tablespoon almond extract (optional)
  •  

    oregon-specialty-fruit-red-tart-cherries-230

    Make your own cherry filling with fresh or frozen cherries, or canned cherries in water. Photo courtesy Oregon Specialty Fruit.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cherries in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer. After the cherries lose considerable juice (several minutes—stir occasionally), remove from the heat.

    2. COMBINE in a small bowl the sugar and cornstarch. Pour into the hot cherries and combine thoroughly. Add the almond extract and stir. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water. It it’s too thin, add a bit more cornstarch.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cherry Home Fries

    fried-w-cherry-homefries-choosecherries-230

    Cherry home fries. Photo courtesy ChooseCherries.com.

     

    One of our beefs with Presidents Day is that it obliterates the birthdays of two great presidents, Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and George Washington (February 22nd).

    Both birthdays used to be bank, government and school holidays. In 1971, both presidential holidays were shifted to the third Monday in February and combined as the vague Presidents Day, to allow federal employees a three-day weekend. Hmpf.

    It’s tough to tie a food story to Lincoln, who ate only “incidentally.” He grew up poor without an excess of food. As an adult, he was so focused on work, it was tough to get him to eat at all. When he did eat, he nibbled simply, on apples, nuts, cheese and crackers.

    Although he never chopped down the apocryphal cherry tree, George Washington grew up the son of a wealthy planter, with all the victuals he could desire. While he was no foodie, he did in fact love cherries and other fruits from the groves of Mount Vernon.

    So we’re keeping up with the tradition of cherry recipes, starting with an unusual one:

     
    Cherry home fries! These use dried tart cherries, which play off nicely against the potatoes as well as eggs. We particularly like them with scrambled eggs or omelets. For extra fun, we made a jelly omelet with fresh goat cheese (you can use cream cheese) and cherry preserves.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: CHERRY HOME FRIES

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 2/3 to 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 5 medium waxy potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (plus 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, as needed)
  • Optional: 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red chiles or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SAUTÉ the cherries and onions over low to medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the onions become a deep brown. While onions and tart cherries are cooking…

    2. BOIL the potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain.

    3. ADD the potatoes to the skillet with the cherries and onions. Add extra oil if needed. Sauté for 5 minutes on high until the potatoes are crisp.

    4. SEASON with salt, pepper and chiles to taste.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Russian Cocktail

    Do a Google search for “Russian Cocktail” and the first 30 pages are for Black Russians and White Russians. We stopped looking at that point. No simple “Russian Cocktail” could be found.

    But the folks at Grey Goose tell us that this Prohibition-era drink is the oldest vodka cocktail found in print. They shared the recipe below.

    While the drink appeared long before flavored vodkas were available in the U.S., you can use a cherry flavored vodka for more cherry flavor. Grey Goose, Pinnacle, Skyy, Smirnoff, Svedka, Three Olives and UV, among others, make cherry vodka.

    RECIPE: RUSSIAN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1½ parts vodka
  • ½ part maraschino liqueur or cherry liqueur (see note)
  • Crushed ice
  • Garnish: brandied cherry (see recipe below)
  •    

    russian-cocktail-greygoose-230

    The Russian Cocktail, pink for Valentine’s Day. Photo courtesy Grey Goose.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the two spirits in a cocktail shaker. Top with crushed ice and shake vigorously.

    2. STRAIN into a chilled frappe glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry and serve.
     
     
    NOTE ON MARASCHINO LIQUEUR VS. CHERRY LIQUEUR

    We actually prefer generic cherry liqueur to the cherry-specific maraschino liqueur. Maraschino liqueur, such as Luxardo, is a clear, relatively dry liqueur made from Marasca cherries, including the crushed pits. The latter give it a subtle bitter almond flavor.

    If you like the note of almond, go for the maraschino liqueur. If you like things sweeter with more cherry flavor, head for the cherry liqueur.
     
    The Original Maraschino Cherry

    The ubiquitous maraschino cherries that are a joke in some food circles were once quite elite. The cherries were originally preserved in the liqueur as a delicacy for royalty and the wealthy.

    The Marasca cherry (Prunus cerasus var. marasca) is a type of sour Morello cherry that grows largely in Bosnia, Croatia, Herzegovina, northern Italy and Slovenia. With a bitter taste and a drier pulp than other cherry varieties, they are ideal to make maraschino liqueur.

    The Marasca cherry tree is very fussy about where it will grow, so in the U.S., the Royal Ann variety is substituted for the Marasca to make maraschino cherries.

     

    SONY DSC

    Homemade brandied cherries from DarlaCooks.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

    HOMEMADE BRANDIED CHERRIES

    You can buy brandied cherries (they’re pricey) or make your own:

  • Maraschino cherries in syrup: Drain 20% of the liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries and replace it with brandy. Place the jar in the fridge and let marinate for at least an hour.
  • With fresh cherries, thawed frozen cherries or canned cherries: Soak the cherries in your own [better quality] brandy or Cognac for an hour in the fridge.
  •  
    Here’s a recipe from DarlaCooks.com. Note that the aesthetically-pleasing stems come only with fresh cherries; so you may want to mark your calendar for cherry season, then get out your Mason jars and preserve them.

    You can also marinate the cherries in cherry liqueur or kirschwasser, a cherry eau de vie (fruit brandy).

    What’s the difference between brandy and Cognac?

    Cognac is grape brandy, a distillate of wine that is produced according to strict regulations in the region surrounding the town of Cognac in central France. It must be made from a specific group of white grape varieties, that are double distilled using pot stills and then aged for at least two years.

     
    Grape brandy can be made anywhere, from any grapes (brandy is also made from fruit and pomace). It does not require double distillation or long aging.

    While there are quality brandies, in general Cognac is a better product. The double distilling and aging rounds out the spirit and produces more mellow flavors.

      

    Comments

    WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY: Blue Cheese Salad With Dried Cherries

    Cherries, apples and blue cheese combine in
    a delicious salad. Photo and recipe courtesy
    EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

    George Washington, our first President, was born 280 years ago today. It’s been pretty well documented that he did not, in fact, chop down a cherry tree. But we can still be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy luscious dried tart cherries as we celebrate his birthday (fresh cherries are a summer fruit).

    Not only do the deliver terrific flavor; cherries are nutritious and one of the foods highest in antioxidants (here’s a list of high antioxidant foods).

    While we enjoy this delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe with dried cherries, the more healthfully inclined should consider this refreshing salad recipe that combines dried cherries with other fruits and blue cheese—a great combination.

    Tart and chewy cherries pair with the heat of grated fresh ginger and piquant blue cheese. If you prefer, you can substitute iceberg wedges for the mixed greens.

     

    APPLE BERRY SALAD WITH LEMON GINGER CREAM

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Salad

  • 4 cups mixed greens, washed and patted dry
  • 1 tart apple, sliced
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pecans, toasted, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) blue cheese, crumbled
  •  

    For The Dressing

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  •  

    Dried cherries available from MurraysCheese.com.

    Preparation

    1. WHISK together sour cream, milk, lemon juice, zest, vinegar, ginger, honey, salt and pepper; refrigerate dressing until ready to serve.

    2. PORTION greens onto four plates. Divide apple slices and strawberries among salads. Garnish with cherries, onion and pecans.

    3. DRIZZLE dressing over salad and sprinkle with blue cheese; serve immediately. Cover and refrigerate extra dressing up to 3 days.

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE SALAD RECIPES.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cherry Brownies For President’s Day

    Cherry brownies. Photo courtesy
    AllisonsGourmet.com, specialist in vegan
    treats.

     

    The legend of George Washington and the cherry tree was an invention of book agent Mason Locke Weems, in his 1800 biography, “The Life of Washington.” The cherry tree has been associated with Washington ever since.

    Washington’s Birthday was declared a federal holiday by Congress in 1880,* the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen.

    Initially the holiday was for government offices in the District of Columbia. It was expanded to include all federal offices in 1885. State government offices, including schools, followed suit, followed by banks and other businesses. The holiday was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22, until 1971, when it was shifted to the third Monday in February and combined with the Lincoln’s Birthday celebration to allow federal employees a three-day weekend.

     
    Cherry pie, typically made with canned tart cherries, became a popular way to celebrate the day. Over the years, many other cherry recipes followed.

    Alas for those who like fresh ingredients, cherry season is in summer. But quality canned cherries (we like Chukar Cherries) and dried cherries enable cooks and bakers to express their patriotism—or at least, use the occasion to make something different.

    For the President’s Day weekend, a batch of cherry brownies will hit the spot with your family and friends:

  • Prepare your favorite brownie recipe. Here’s a rich brownie recipe. Cut the nuts in the recipe in half (or omit them) to accommodate the cherries.
  • Soak 1/2 to 1 cup of dried cherries moistened with Kirsch (cherry brandy), rum or other favorite spirit.
  • Mix a half cup of the cherries into the brownie batter and/or press them into the top of the brownies when you remove the pan from the oven. There’s no need to drain the spirits: They make the brownies taste that much better!
  •  
    Prefer a chocolate chip cookie? Here’s our recipe for yummy cherry chocolate chip cookies.

    Comments

    CHERRY TIP OF THE DAY: Toast To George

    It’s the birthday of the Father of Our Country (George Washington, to those of you who didn’t attend grade school in the U.S.).

    Washington was quite a fan of egg nog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry.

  • If you’ve been missing nog since the holidays ended, try this egg nog recipe (plus the history of egg nog) and toast to George. If egg nog isn’t your thing, there are two other choices.
  • First, there’s kirsch (kirschwasser/kirsch water), which is a cherry eau de vie. In keeping with the Washington’s Birthday cherry theme, try it or any cherry schnapps straight or in a cocktail.
  • The other appropriate libation: a Margarita. Why? February 22 is also National Margarita Day! See the history of the Margarita plus Margarita recipes.
  • For the kids: alcohol-free egg nog or delicious tart cherry juice!
  •  

    eggnog-chefs-catalog-230

    Toast to Washington with egg nog: He loved
    it! Photo courtesy Chefs.com.

    Comments

    CHERRY TIP OF THE DAY: Cherries Jubilee

    Cherries Jubilee was a very fashionable dessert for many decades. The great chef Auguste Escoffier is credited with creating it for Queen Victoria—for either her Golden Jubilee of 1887 (the 50th year of a monarch’s reign) or her Diamond Jubilee in 1897—the record is not sure which.

    It immediately joined the menu at restaurants of haute cuisine, where it was prepared tableside with great fanfare.

    Pitted black cherries were flambéed with kirsch (which is cherry eau de vie, or unaged brandy) or regular brandy, then spooned into a stemmed silver dish of vanilla ice cream.

    You don’t need to have a stemmed silver dish—that kind of pomp disappeared in the 1960s. And it’s no biggie to get the cherries (frozen), ice cream and spirits to make the dish—tonight or tomorrow to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. A recipe for one head of state is certainly appropriate for another!

  • Here’s an easy recipe for Cherries Jubilee.
  •  

    cherries-jubilee_0

    Cherries Jubilee. Photo courtesy RobertsDairy.com.

    Comments

    CHERRY TIP OF THE DAY: Hot Tea Russian-Style

    Russians have traditionally sweetened hot tea with a spoonful of cherry preserves instead of sugar. It’s delicious.

    If you want the experience without the calories, look for a sugar-free cherry preserves. Chukar Cherries’ No Sugar Added Red Sour Cherry Preserve is so good, you can’t even tell that there’s no sugar added!

    For zero calories, you can purchase a cherry-flavored tea blend; but if you can, try your hot tea Russian-style. If you have Irish coffee mugs or other glass-handled cups or mugs, use them to enjoy the visual effect.

     

    chukar-cherry-preserves-nsa-230

    Try a spoonful in your tea. Photo
    courtesy Chukar.com.

    Comments

    CHERRY TIP OF THE DAY: Cherry Salad Garnish

    Toss some dried cherries into a salad for flavor, color and a higher antioxidant burst.

    Cherries complement just about any salad, from plain greens to salads with blue cheese or goat cheese to chicken and tuna salad. Combine dried cherries along with the raisins in curried chicken salad for a show-stopper.

  • Speaking of which, try this recipe for curried chicken salad wraps—with dried tart cherries, of course!
  • What’s for dinner? Here’s a recipe for pork chops with orange cherry sauce.
  •  

    chicken-salad-croissant-230

    Add dried cherries to chicken salad—or any
    salad. Photo courtesy Cherry Marketing Institute.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Deep Freeze Cherry Pie

    triple-cherry-cobbler-230

    Chukar Cherrie’s Triple Cherry Cobbler & Pie
    Filling. Photo by Corey Lugg | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Love cherry pie? Most people make it from any old canned supermarket cherry goop, which tastes as much of cloying sugar as it does of cherries.

    You can make a much more flavorful cherry pie with frozen tart cherries, or with a specialty brand of cherry pie filling.

    Keep in mind: Sweet cherries like the Bing and Royal Anne are snacking cherries. Tart cherries like the Montmorency yield the best results in cooking and baking.

  • Click here for our review of Chukar Cherries pie fillings, our favorites. (They’re certified kosher by KOF-K.)
  • Learn about the different types of cherries.
  • Comments

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