Cherry Mojito - KCNWT

Photo credited to E. Jane Armstrong, from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books


This week we welcome the first of this summer’s local cherries at the farmer’s markets and grocery stores. We have a cherry tree behind the Food Studios here in Ballard and all of a sudden it was crammed with deliciously ripe cherries! With the wonderful weather the Northwest has been having they seemed to have just ripened overnight!  At the produce stand you’ll generally see all the dark sweet cherries labeled as Bing cherries, which many consider the benchmark favorite, although other varieties, such as Chelan, Lambert, or Van may be mixed in. And then of course there are the light, sweet, Queen Annes and big, blushing Rainiers.

I have been known to just eat a big bowl of cherries for dinner. Once in awhile you just need to gorge yourself, and why not on something juicy, delicious and healthy! Cherries are low fat, sodium free and a great source of fiber and vitamin C. One cup of cherries has only 90 calories–that’s about 5 calories each.

The one drawback to cooking with cherries is getting the seeds out, and this can sometimes be the pits! The best way to accomplish this task if you are pitting a lot of cherries is to get a large volume pitter. I like the one they have at Sur la Table. It clamps easily onto the side of a picnic table–outdoors is the ideal place to do this messy chore. You stem the cherries, then load up the hopper and start punching the plunger down like mad. The only hitch is that by the time you are finished you are usually freckled with pink dots! So wear an old shirt–cherry stains are hard to get out.
Frozen cherries make fun ice cubes for cold summer drinks. Just wash, dry and freeze the whole fruit. Or you can pit them, place each one in an ice cube tray compartment, then fill with water (or lemonade!) and freeze. Or the drink itself can feature the rosy globes. Try my Cherry Mojitos for a Crowd, it’s unbelievably good!

Cherries also show up in the main course—I love a fresh cherry salsa on grilled salmon – or, for an easy entree, try my Almond Chicken with Sassy Bing Cherry Salsa. You quickly sauté the chicken, then let the oven finish cooking it while you toss a big green salad. Deglaze the pan with a little wine, and you’re all done.

Have a cherrilicious summer!

Almond Chicken with Sassy Bing Cherry Salsa

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup (2 ounces) sliced almonds
1/4 cup dry white wine
Sassy Bing Cherry Salsa (recipe follows)
Cilantro sprigs for garnishing

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, salt, coriander, and cayenne. Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Set aside.

In a large, ovenproof nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken lightly on each side for about 1 minute. Lay the chicken in the pan, sprinkle with the almonds, and place the pan in the oven. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear, about 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. Transfer the chicken and almonds to a warm platter and keep warm. (Reserve the pan for next step.)

Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the wine, and bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up all the browned bits in the pan. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and whisk until slightly reduced and thickened.

Spoon the sauce over the chicken and top with the cherry salsa. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Sassy Bing Cherry Salsa

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups pitted sliced Bing cherries (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup minced Walla Walla Sweet onion or other sweet white onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons very finely minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)

In a small bowl, gently mix all the ingredients. The salsa is best if made right before serving but can be made up to 2 hours in advance.
Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Copyright © 2006 by Kathy Casey.


Cherry Mojitos for a Crowd

Makes about 10 servings

1 bunch fresh mint (about 1 1/2 cups sprigs)
3 cups Bacardi Limón rum
2 cups sugar
2 cups fresh lime juice
1/4 cup clear cherry liqueur, such as Maraska maraschino
3 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Loads of ice for serving
Two 10-ounce bottles soda water

Fresh mint sprigs
Fresh cherries on the stem

In a large nonreactive container, such as a glass pitcher, combine the mint, rum, sugar, lime juice, liqueur, and pitted cherries. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

For each serving, fill a large rocks glass or tumbler with ice and measure in 6 ounces (3/4 cup) of the rum mixture (I like to use a ladle to do this), being sure to get some of the cherries into each glass. Top with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of soda. Stir, then garnish with a mint sprig and a cherry.

Chef’s Note: You can make the cherry-rum mixture up to 3 days in advance and keep it refrigerated—the flavors will just get better and better.
Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Copyright © 2006 by Kathy Casey.

Posted by Kathy on June 25th, 2009  |  Comments (1) |  Posted in Cocktails, Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, KOMO Radio, poultry, Recent Posts, Recipes

One Response to “Cherries”

  1. Fresh Fruit Salsas Recipes | Mixed Greens Blog Says:

    […] files (remember those?) and couldn’t find it but had a vague memory that it may have been a Kathy Casey recipe. Checked on line and sure enough, she has a bing cherry salsa recipe. I’m not sure if […]