People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
01/22/2002 Black cherry sorbet with orgeat (Sorbet de cerises à l'orgeat)
2 lbs. ripe, flavorful black cherries 1/3 c. sugar 1/2 c. water 1/4 c. syrup of orgeat juice of 1/2 lemon
Pit the cherries. A cherry pitter is an inexpensive little hand tool that is worth its weight in gold. Position each cherry in the bowl of the pitter with the piercing prong poised over its stem end (easier than it sounds) for most efficient pitting.
Meanwhile, boil the sugar and water together for 5 minutes.
Roughly puree the cherries in a food processor, and mix in the sugar syrup and the orgeat syrup. Chill thoroughly and freeze in an ice cream freezer. Alternatively or in the absence of an ice cream freezer, this mixture can be hand frozen into a delicious granita. Put the mixture in a bowl and place in the freezer. As soon as the edges begin to freeze, stir thoroughly with a big fork, scraping the edges and sides of the bowl. Repeat the stirring several more times over the next 4-5 hours until a grainy granita has formed. Serve with thin wafer cookies. Makes about a quart.
I realize this isn't a seasonal dessert, but I was tempted into creating it this evening because the markets here are full of wonderfully ripe, hard, black cherries from Chile. I couldn't resist the indulgence. This sorbet turned out absolutely delicious, with the orgeat and lemon subtly underlining the cherry flavor. Orgeat syrup is available from specialty food stores or places that sell Italian flavoring syrups for sodas and coffees. It has a strong bitter almond flavor (but it's not bitter). What it is made from remains a bit of a mystery for me. I once read that it was made from something called an "earth almond"--a nut-like thing that grew in the ground. But my bible of food definitions, the Larousse Gastronomique, says it is made from almond milk and flavored with orange flowers, and that it was originally made with barley (orge, in French), hence the name. Anyone out there know the truth about orgeat?