Kim wrote and asked for cherry and chorizo recipes. Not together, necessarily (although hmmm. . .). But in the cherry country on the eastern slope of the Cascades, where she works, one can only stand so much cherry pie.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have no love for cherry pie either. I’m all about the raw cherry experience: the way the skin lifts up near the stem end like a hangnail when I pull the stem out, the way the fruit splits in my mouth and makes that gentle exploding sound that no one outside my mouth could ever hear, the way that magenta juice tints my tongue Tootsie Pop red and inevitably dribbles out of the corner of my mouth when I’m dealing with the pit and stains the white tank top I really did think about changing before it was too late.
Today it was too late. More than once.
I bought a little green plastic basketful last night at my local grocery store, hoping to make a chocolate-cherry cake, but before I had time to get out the mixing bowl I’d somehow eaten three-quarters of them, and chocolate-cherry cake without the cherries just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
I marched into this morning’s farmer’s market in time for the opening bell with an aging $10 bill, determined to spend it on the same cherries I saw bursting out of a stall there this weekend last year, when we were in Seattle looking for a place to live. I came away with two pounds:
When I got home from the market, the sun and the garden called. Jess, you look like you need a sunburn. I found my little arugula plants, lounging with teenaged insouciance in their new, shadier home, and decided to take them inside for a salad.
I don’t mind cooking for one, but I’m not fond of cooking things that won’t get eaten, so get used to some small quantities this week.
I roasted up a yellow beet (about 75 minutes at 400 degrees, wrapped in foil), peeled it, and sliced it superthin on my little ceramic mandoline (without cutting myself, thankyouverymuch, and yes, it’s worth buying one). Carpaccio, you know, doesn’t have to be raw beef.
I fanned the beet slices out on a plate, and piled my little pinch of teenaged arugula on top, along with about ten halved, pitted Chelan cherries, a tablespoon of roasted pistachios, some fresh pepper, and a healthy pinch of good sea salt. I drizzled it all with about a teaspoon of delicious, fruity olive oil and half a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, and snapped a few beauty shots of what must be one of the top ten most beautiful salads ever made.
But I might be biased.
Before I tasted it, I marched the plate over to Sheldon, my farmers market gossip buddy and neighbor (and tomato grower extraordinaire, I might add), because I was just too excited about it not to share. I thought handing him a maimed, half-eaten salad would perhaps be less polite than taking the whole thing over there and mangling it in front of him, so he could see that at one point it really was beautiful.
But when we got home, half the salad and I, it got shy. Deep, sweet, earthy beet and tangy cherry welcomed the crunch of the pistachios and the salt’s soft bite, but also yearned for something a little obnoxious and spunky, some contrast to their relatively mellow flavors.
Sheldon came over a few hours later, shy. “Do you want to hear what I thought about it?” he asked. Of course! “It was missing something.” I know. What a pity.
You can bet your beets I’ll be making it again tonight. Only this time, I’ll add blue cheese and maybe a teensy bit of finely chopped red onion, or perhaps a bit of Dijon to the dressing.
I’m still not sure I’ll have enough cherries to make that cake tomorrow. But yes, Kim. I will find a non-pie cherry dessert that’s crunchy and smooth and lush, all at once. I just hope the season’s long enough for me to get sidetracked.