I’ve had an interesting two weeks! The night before my had surgery (#7) I was up all night cooking. I was determined to eat well during my recovery. I didn’t want my husband going to any fast-food joints for meals. With the garden going strong I pre-prepped lots of vegetables, made a killer tuna salad and had lots of easy things ready to be stir-fried for fast meals.
I have been in physical therapy rehab for two weeks and am finally able to hold a knife in my right hand now. This surgery was not a slam-dunk. The older you get ( I am officially no longer young – well maybe at heart – but my body is definitely giving me a different message now) the longer it takes to recover from most everything. This surgery is a good example. I have been working my butt off (wish I could say I was down a pants size) to be able to hold this knife.
Now that I can I have been cooking up a storm the past few days and have 5 interesting dishes ready to share with you.
Most of what I have been cooking are “pantry” items. I love to have a well stocked pantry and with wild mushrooms, peaches, cherries, and lots of vegetables in season it is the perfect time to get creative!
The recipe I am posting today was inspired by one of America’s best known chef’s, Thomas Keller who owns the French Laundry in Yountsville, California. I love Thomas Keller’s cookbook “Ad Hoc at Home”. Not all chef’s write cookbooks that are “home-cook” friendly in terms of re-creating the recipes. Keller is the exception. His recipes are easy to understand and they are creative. He uses interesting cooking techniques and ingredients and explains how to do the techniques as well as gives you a list of great culinary ingredient resources.
I have cooked my way through a lot of the recipes in this book. But frankly, I rarely follow a recipe and mostly use a recipe as a starting point for creativity.
I created the 5 recipes I am getting ready to post by playing around with Thomas Keller’s recipes, taking out ingredients and adding new ingredients based on what was in my garden or available at the farmer’s market last weekend. Here is what I came up with for the Pickled Rainier Cherries. Use this pantry item as an addition to both savory dishes as well as sweet dishes.
On the savory side the cherries would be great with grilled meats and poultry. On the sweet side they would work well over ice cream, on pound cake, in cocktails, and could also be used at breakfast over pancakes, on top of greek yogurt and over granola.
When I had my staff try these they wanted be to bottle the simple syrup the cherries are macerated in! I guess they liked the syrup!
Pickled Rainier Cherries
2 c rainier cherries, washed, de-stemmed, and pitted
1/2 c can-can orange vanilla balsamic vinegar. (see note)
2 c sugar
2 c water
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
Note: You could take out one cup of the water and substitute vanilla rum or coconut rum! I just did not have any in my kitchen today when I was making this dish! It was in the liquor cabinet at the International Wine & Spirits Guild. Bummer!
Wash, de-stem and remove the pits from the cherries. I used a hand-held cherry pitted. (see picture). The cherry pitter was super simple to use and went fairly quickly.
Heat the sugar, water, the vanilla beans and seeds and balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Stir frequently. This will take around 5 minutes.
Discard the vanilla beans. Cool the simple syrup mixture until room temperature.
Place the pitted cherries in 1 pint sterilized canning jars. Pour the cooled simple syrup over the cherries. Wipe off the lip of the jar with a damp paper towel and place the lid and ring on the jar and screw until firmly sealed.
Store the cherries in the refrigerator for 1 month.
Makes about 6 cups
Note: the Can-Can Orange Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar can be ordered from EVVO Marketplace in Denver, CO. Check out their website by clicking on their name in our vendor list. This is one of my favorite balsamic vinegar’s from the EVVO marketplace and is worth every penny! A little goes a long way when making salad dressings. I like a splash in my iced tea, or just in a glass of water!
You can substitute the Can-Can Orange Vanilla Balsamic by making your own cherry balsamic vinegar. See the recipe for how to do this in my next post.