02 May 2009

Safe and Sakura

Cherries are a magnificent thing. What else makes flowers like these above, and a dessert like this below?

OK, so technically these are from two different types of cherry trees, but I couldn't help being inspired on a recent walk through the soothing, feathery pink petals at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It's an annual ritual, and one of my absolute favorite things to do in the city. The best way I know to pay homage to something is in the kitchen, so when I got home I pulled out an old standby cherry crisp recipe that I wrote down years ago.

Due to an uncharacteristic bit of culinary planning, I always have sour cherries that I've pitted and frozen on hand. They're too good to enjoy only for their brief, weeks-long summer season. You could of course use fresh, if they're available, or the darker, sweet cherries- just adjust the amount of sugar used with the fruit.

Sour Cherry-Pistachio Crisp

1 3/4 pounds pitted fresh or frozen sour cherries (if frozen, thawed at room temperature for 30 minutes)
1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Pinch cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 375°. In medium bowl, stir together pistachios, flour, oats, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a separate medium bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Stir in pistachio mixture until just combined. With fingers, work into coarse crumbs; set aside.

2. In an 8-inch baking dish, stir together cherries, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle evenly with pistachio topping. Bake until golden and juices are bubbling up, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool one hour before serving.

In Japan, the blooming of sakura (flowering cherry trees) is a nationally heralded event, so it just seemed right to pair the crisp with a sencha, the classic Japanese tea. When you have that clean, vegetal sip after a bite of the glistening, sweet-tart cherries, you'll see that there's no better way to pay tribute to spring.

The BBG's cherry blossom festival is going on all weekend, so don't miss your chance for a once-a-year walk through the very essence of pink. And if you make the crisp before you leave, it will be at the perfect temperature when you return.

It may be as ephemeral as the blossoms, but that just adds to its beauty.


Anonymous said...

Looks delicious! I must come back to this in a few months when our cherries are ripe. The wonderful period of cherry pies and crisps is ephemeral, too (we race the catbirds for each one), but soooo tasty.

Beautiful photos.

montague said...

oh i adore sour cherries! i have some amazing sour cherries in syrup at home right now, and i am planning on mixing them with some almonds and a bit of chocolate in ice cream!

Anonymous said...

Love your last shot

Pacman Nutsack said...

oh my god that looks so effing good....how does I get sour cherries?

Anonymous said...

this is a Martha Stewart recipe, no? you should probably credit her.