Cherish fleeting cherry season, says Trish Deseine …
For a short six weeks or so, from the end of May to mid-July, the varieties appear, stemming from two types of trees – sweet cherry Merisier and the more acidic Griottier, which grow mostly in L’Auvergne and Provence. The abundance always starts with the juicy bruisers, Bigarreaux – perfect for the table, tartes and clafoutis – and ends with the ancient, most soughtafter, small and tart Montmorency, better for savoury dishes and preserving. Like strawberries, they are wonderful lightly poached, with a tiny amount of sugar, just enough to help the juices escape from the fruit, and with perhaps a bay leaf, some rosemary or pepper to bring out their flavour. Served with fresh goat’s cheese or a sculptural sheep’s milk, like Brousse from Corsica, they help bridge the gap between cheese and dessert for a perfect summer lunch.
Take some inspiration from A Taste of Summer: Try Trish Deseine’s Joyful June Menu for other recipes rejoicing in cherries this summer.
It is the law that I give you a clafoutis recipe here, especially as it is such a wonderful base for all tart fruit. Once the cherries have gone, nectarines and peaches, apricots and figs will all give great results, all the way until the first apples of autumn. Use vanilla pods for even more flavour and add single cream to the milk for more creaminess. A dash of kirsch, rum or Cognac would not be a bad idea either, depending on the fruit. You can stone the cherries if you wish, but the general thinking is they taste better with the stones in. Just make sure you warn your guests!
15 minutes preparation
35 minutes baking
500ml fresh whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
500g ripe cherries, washed, hulled
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Butter the bottom and edges of a gratin dish.
Beat the sugar with the eggs – a hand whisk is fine – until slightly
frothy, then add the flour (sieved if you can) and mix again.
Add the milk little by little, whisking as you go, and finally, the
Arrange the cherries in the dish and pour the batter around them.
Bake for around 35 minutes, until puffed up and golden.
Serve hot, warm or cold with cream or ice cream if you like, but
there is no real need for accompaniments!
SWEET AND SAVOURY CHERRY HAM AND WATERMELON “TART”
An ingenious, extremely pretty and gluten-free way to celebrate summer goodness.
15 minutes preparation
2 slices of watermelon – about 1/2cm thick
6-8 slices of thinly sliced cooked or cured ham
250g cherries, washed, hulled, stoned
Set the watermelon slices on a serving dish.
Cut them into 6 or 8 triangles then move them together again.
Roll the ham into little swirls, tear the mozzarella then arrange it all
with the cherries on the watermelon.
Garnish with basil, season with black pepper and drizzle with
balsamic vinegar and olive oil before serving.