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Archive for Washington’s Birthday

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.
 
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*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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    Cherries Jubilee. Photo courtesy RobertsDairy.com.

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    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.

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    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.

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

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