In researching this new culture (heh) of homemade yogurt, I decided to check a blog that is new to me but has quickly found a place in my heart. In Figs Olives Wine, New York chef and food writer Amanda writes with a Mediterranean perspective on eating: simple preparations focusing on the best local seasonal ingredients. Needless to say, I love it -- I'm Mediterranean-obsessed, after all, and the stories that accompany her recipes are charming and fascinating.
No word on home yogurt making, but I did find a recipe that for something to have with my yogurt: cherry spoon sweet. Good lord, what a treat. Less mushy and homogenous than preserves, the cherries stay plump and whole here. It was a perfect way to use up some cherries that were beginning to shrivel in the fridge. After the slow, conteplative, Zen-ish task of pitting cherries, it comes together quite quickly and leaves your kitchen smelling like some sort of exotic candy shop.
I skipped the sterilizing step, since it was going to sit in my refrigerator, and such a small batch as I was making would get eaten fast. I also omitted the blanched almonds for simplicity, lowered the sugar, since I wasn't using sour cherries, and replaced her cinnamon and star anise (sounds delish, but I'll save those for colder days) with lemon zest and vanilla bean. Except not vanilla bean -- instead vanilla extract. I mean, I contemplated stopping at Trader Joe's really a lot, but like, it's Friday night and I've got a full-time high-profile (ha) job for god's sake, and I can't be a slow foodist and a career woman at the same time, not that I ever wanted to be a career woman, and I have to get to Atwater Village later tonight to hang out with strangers and check out some new bar that's not that new anymore because I'm just not as on-the-ball with this city as i think i am but still it's east -- way east -- and that counts, right? Right?
Anyway, I had it for breakfast on Saturday.
Cherry Vanilla Spoon Sweet
Gorgeous colors abound in making this recipe -- winedark juices as you pit the cherries, and a pink at once both deep and bright as the juices cook. Just take care not to get them all over yourself -- pit the cherries with your hands inside a deep bowl.
about 40 bing cherries, pitted
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp red wine
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 long thick pieces of lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or about 1 inch of a vanilla bean, sliced open and seeds scraped into the cherry mixture)
Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring gently but continuously. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, for about 8 minutes, or until the cherries are slightly wilted.
With a slotted spoon, remove the cherries to a sieve over a bowl (you can do this in one step with a spider strainer, what's quickly becoming my favorite kitchen gadget), but leave behind the lemon zest. Raise the heat to medium and reduce the liquid for 5-10 minutes, until well-thickened.
Remove spoon sweet from the heat and allow to cool. Spoon mixutre into jar.