So, I know it’s been a while, and a few things have happened since I last posted the Arnold Palmer cake. I moved to Seattle, upgraded to a rustic French kitchen and now have my very own Kitchen Aid mixer (more on my love affair with this later). Life is good and I’m ready to dust off my gear and get cooking again.
I feel as though I start too many posts with, ‘I never really thought I would like this, but turns out I do!’ I going to try to correct this predictable style, but I think it’s really just a testament for how much you can surprise yourself when you start saying yes to any and all food at least once. I’m learning more and more there aren’t too many edible things I don’t like, and that list doesn’t include pickled cherries. I tried this cherry burrata combination at a restaurant called Red Hill Restaurant in the L.A. neighborhood Echo Park (Side note: a delightful American bistro that also served a grilled trout with blueberries, which was so inventive and one of those dishes that made me feel like a star patron for seeing it’s potential enough to order it. Bet you didn’t think I could turn someone else’s success into a compliment for myself but, I did.) We ordered two things from every section of the menu, haphazardly pointing at keywords in each dish we found appealing. Clearly the burrata and grilled bread is what drew me into suggesting this one, but it was the pickled cherries that kept me talking about it for days (maybe weeks).
Disclaimer: I’ve always been terrified of cherries. I think it stems (ha, get it) from watching that poor, self-righteous townswoman vomit cherries Exorcist style repeatedly in “Witches of Eastwick.” I think this film has single-handedly taken the sexy out of cherries for me, because somewhere deep down I’m afraid that if I like them too much, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cher and Susan Sarandon will put a purge spell on me. Therefore, I’ve always preferred them in maraschino form, or the sugar essence of cherry candy — so essentially things that don’t taste like cherries.
Eastwick nightmares aside, this combination of pickled cherries, toasted hazelnuts, burrata and charred bread is balanced. Sour, sweet, nutty and creamy. I also think it looks really elegant for company, and I love how the cherries create some watercolor art on a white plate with the remnant pickling juice, cheese and olive oil. I think this will become my go-to bruschetta substitute when I can’t find any top quality tomatoes. For the bread, I used a country boule, but a rustic baguette would also work well. Just don’t skimp on the quality of the bread since this dish has only four components.
Pickling is fairly simple and makes me nostalgic for those Easter egg decorating sessions because of the piercing vinegar smell. The only time consuming portion of this recipe is individually pitting each of the cherries, and subsequently scrubbing your cuticles clean of the cherry blood stain.
Note: If you have one, I’d advise using a dark cutting board. Cherries, like beets, are wonderful because of their vibrant color, but it’s not so wonderful when your cutting board remains pink.
These should be made ahead of time, and will keep for about a month in the fridge. I think they would make a great hostess gift in a cute mason jar. They would go great on some pizza with Gorgonzola. At the very least, your fridge door will instantly appear more refined when stocked with some homemade pickled goodies – something that oddly makes me happy.
Pickled cherries by Epicurious
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted
1 large rosemary sprig
Bring first 5 ingredients and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a medium stainless-steel saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 5 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain into a medium bowl; return liquid to pan. Add cherries and rosemary to saucepan. Simmer until cherries are tender, 3–5 minutes. Transfer cherries and rosemary to a 1 quart mason jar. Pour in enough pickling liquid to cover cherries. Cover and chill. Do Ahead: Can be made 1 month ahead. Keep refrigerated. Strain before serving.
Serve with grilled bread, burrata and toasted, chopped hazelnuts.