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Archive for Washington’s Birthday

HOLIDAY RECIPE: Frozen Cherry Margarita

February 22nd is National Margarita Day. It’s also the day George Washington was born (in 1732).

Decades ago, it was established that George Washington never cut down his father’s beloved cherry tree.*

But the tradition of cherry pie on his birthday existed for many years before scholars uncovered the reality. So this year’s contribution to our cherry recipe collection is a Cherry Margarita.

While a cocktail made with puréed fresh cherries would be divine, we’re a few months away from cherry season. So let’s default to the next-best thing: frozen tart cherries.

RECIPE: FROZEN CHERRY MARGARITA

Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1/2 cup frozen pitted tart cherries
  • 1-1/2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 2 ounces cherry juice*
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 2 cups ice
  • Optional: coarse salt for rim
  • Optional garnish: 1 stemmed maraschino cherry†, lime wheel, or both
  •  
    _________________________________
    *Our favorite is Knudsen’s, but any brand will do.

    †The absolute best maraschino cherries are the all-natural ones from Tillen Farms. They’re great for gifting, too.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE alt rim.

    2. COMBINE the tequila, cherry juice, lime juice and liqueur in a blender; then add the ice (the order is important so the ice doesn’t jam the blades).

    3. PURÉE until the drink is thick. If it’s too thick, add more ice to achieve the desired consistency.

    4. POUR into a glass, garnish and serve.

       

    Frozen Cherry Margarita

    Cherry-Margarita-createdbydiane-230s

    Top: A frozen Cherry Margarita from IngredientsInc.net. Bottom: A conventional-style Cherry Margarita from Made By Diane, who uses fresh cherries in season. Here’s the recipe for her Fresh Cherry Margarita.

     

    MORE

  • Margarita History
  • Different Types Of Orange Liqueurs
  •  
    __________________________
    *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 (click to buy a copy). 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 (in private businesses, the day off is not mandatory). 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.

     

    Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

    Although it’s only a garnish, the cherry can
    turn a Manhattan cocktail into a
    Washington’s Birthday toast.

     

    NOT A TEQUILA PERSON? BELLY UP TO SOME BOURBON.

    Even though it’s America’s favorite cocktail, not everyone likes a tequila or the sweetness level of a Margarita.

    Instead, consider Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Presidential Manhattan, a twist on the classic Manhattan with a cherry for Washington’s birthday.

    Seeking something else? George Washington was a big fan of eggnog. He also brewed his own beer, including pumpkin ale.
     
    RECIPE: PRESIDENTIAL MANHATTAN

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1-1/2 parts Basil Hayden’s bourbon
  • 1/2 part sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 part dry vermouth
  • 1/2 part maple syrup
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Garnish: maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together the bourbon, vermouth, maple syrup and bitters over ice in a rocks glass.

    2. GARNISH with a cherry and serve.
     
    MORE FUN RECIPES

  • Blue Cheese Salad With Dried Cherries
  • Cherry Home Fries
  • Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Cherry-Topped Brownies
  •   

    Comments

    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.

      

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