Sour Cherry Season

When I first discovered sour cherries a few years ago at the Farmer’s Market, I was blown away by how delicious they were. I was also unbelievably disturbed that I had managed to live and eat in the world for over 30 years having never had the pleasure of enjoying a sour cherry. Gorgeous, aren’t they?

Gorgeous, aren't they?

Sour Cherries

I ADORE sour cherries. I was so enthusiastic that first season that I recall practically chasing down my neighbor at the market and gleefully giving her a handful from my basket to try. Right then. I wanted to share my gastronomic delight. Well, she hesitated, popped one in her mouth and then — oh my — she SPIT. IT. OUT. What? What? What? Her mouth puckered and contorted and she gasped and spit out my beautiful, precious sour cherry. To this day, after watching her face sour, my husband still refuses to try one. Sheesh.

Apparently, sour cherries are for pies as their sour pucker needs to be heavily doused with sugar. Clearly, my taste-buds are wacky. Yes, I have since made a pie out of sour cherries, but I honestly prefer them as is and will continue to enjoy them solo during their fleeting season.

For those who prefer a sweeter fruit, the blackberries are in full swing at the Farmer’s Market as well. Unfortunately, my husband does enjoy these which means I have to share.

DDblackberries

Weekly Menu — 6/29/2013

Week of June 29th

Saturday:
  • We have been invited to a BBQ and baby-viewing, so that is where we are headed tonight. I am not clear on the menu, but I do know I will be bringing freshly made guacamole.

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Sunday:

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Monday:

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Tuesday:
  • Leftover pork
  • Green salad

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Wednesday:
  • Chopped ceviche
  • Avocado toasts, rub thick slices of bread with a half a garlic clove and then brush with oil. Toast bread. Top toasted bread slices with chopped/slightly mashed avocado, hot pepper flakes, sea-salt and a drizzle of good quality olive oil. Delicious!
  • Blackberry salad

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Thursday:
  • 4th of July festivities! We are headed to a BBQ — time for good food, friends and fireworks.

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Friday:
  • Date Night!

Spicy Mango Salad

Adapted from Vietnamese restaurant chef and cookbook author Charles Phan

ingredients

1 tablespoon sugar
1 small clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced Thai chile
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
4 firm yet ripe mangos
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

preparation

Combine the sugar, garlic, chile and salt in a mortar; pound with a pestle until finely mashed. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use the bottom of a heavy knife (like a cleaver) in a bowl to mash the ingredients together. Transfer the paste to a large bowl, add the lime juice and fish sauce, and stir well to combine.

Stand 1 mango, stem end down, on a cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife, cut straight down along one side of the flat oval pit. Cut down along the opposite side of the pit. Put half the mango, skin side down, on a cutting board and cut it into slices about 1/8 -inch thick, cutting to, but not through, the peel. Using a small paring knife, cut the slices away from the peel. Repeat with the remaining mango half and then with the remaining 3 mangos.

Add the mango slices to the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with cayenne and serve.

Vietnamese Food Heaven

We could not put our chopsticks down last night.

We didn’t even want to eat rice with this luscious, saucy shrimp (which is unheard of in my household given my husband is a rice freak) as we didn’t want anything to compete the phenomenal flavors.

This was certainly the most outstanding Vietnamese dish I have ever created in my own kitchen. It even rivaled some of the better menu items I have enjoyed at restaurants. This is the kind of meal that would make me return to a restaurant week after week because there is no denying the craving for this dish once you have had the pleasure of devouring it.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Vietnamese Caramelized Lemongrass Shrimp

Vietnamese Caramelized Lemongrass Shrimp

 

Caramelized Lemongrass Shrimp

Adapted from “Vietnamese Home Cooking,” by Charles Phan. This recipe will work without shrimp heads, but Phan says the heads add richness to the sauce. The recipe also calls for homemade roasted chile paste (there is a recipe in the book), but you can also purchase jarred roasted chile paste.

  • 2 pounds medium head-on shrimp in their shells, or purchase peeled and deveined shrimp if you wish
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  • 2 Thai chiles, stemmed and halved on the diagonal
  • 1/4 cup finely minced lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 2- by 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely julienned
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons roasted chile paste
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce 
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • — Steamed white or brown rice

Instructions: Use scissors to remove the sharp spike at the tail of each shrimp and the spike in the center of the head. Cut off the eyes and discard, then separate the head from the body. Set the heads aside. Peel each shrimp body, removing the tail segments, then devein. Sprinkle bodies with the pepper; set aside.

Pour the oil into a 2-quart clay pot or high-sided skillet, and heat over medium heat. Add the shallots, chiles and reserved shrimp heads and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and chile paste; cook, stirring, about 1 minute more. Add the caramel sauce and stock; stir to combine.

Add the shrimp bodies, and toss to coat with the aromatic ingredients. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes, until the shrimp are bright pink.

Serve directly from the clay pot, accompanied by steamed rice.