Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day, to all the Mom’s out there, be it of human children, doggie or kitty children, or any of the combinations this modern life affords!  You’re the most important thing to a child, and one day is truly not enough to honor all that you do!  In particular, I send this to my own mother, who’s name happens to also be Elizabeth Hennessey.  She is such a wonderful person in general, that her being an amazing Mom to us, and to many that are not her own children, is something I am grateful for each and every day!

If I lived near my mom and dad, I would do a great deal more cooking for them.  But, I live 600+ miles away, so the cooking has to be special any time it does happen. When Mom came out to help with the Hubby’s recovery, I made lamb shanks for my Mom’s birthday celebration dinner, labor intensive, but so worth it for my mom!  I know my Dad is a big dessert lover, in particular blueberry pie and cherry pie.  I am not a big blueberry pie fan, but the cherries, I adore, I guess I got that from him!  

You will recall I gave you a recipe for preserved cherries (AKA Maraschino cherries) here so it’s obvious I love them in any form they come in.  So, when I got a blog post from Faith from TheKitchn for strawberry sour cream scones this week, I suddenly thought, ohh… cherries!  Then it went off into the transom of my mind, and as usual with my menopausal mind fog, I forgot about it.  But Hubby and I went to Whole Foods last night, and they had bags of gorgeous frozen cherries and they were on sale!  Win, WIN!  The idea of the scones popped back into my head.  Now, I will tell you, my go to thing when cooking with the kiddies are chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes (my niece doesn’t realize they’re actually muffins with Nutella on…) or scones.  And for the scones, I steadfastly go to Nigella Lawson’s cheese scone dough (in Nigella Bites) as “the one” recipe with some tweaks. It’s simply the easiest and tastiest scone recipe, but it’s not the traditional lead bellied bombs you usually see.  They’re light and airy, and she uses them for making pigs in blankets… I have to say they’re divine!  I take out the mustard powder and substitute sugar, and chocolate chips go in rather than cheese, and VOILA, you have a chocolate chip scone!  For one thing, Nigella begins with self raising flour, which I have at the ready all the time, I even travel with it if we drive home to New York!  She also doesn’t use the usual sour cream or buttermilk and I find that incredibly easier for impromptu cooking.  

Faith’s recipe calls for all the traditional things, sour cream, buttermilk, eggs.  I made a bit of a detour and combined the two recipe’s with a few tweaks of my own.  For example, instead of adding the sour cream, I just added an egg yolk for richness and a bit of dough enhancement.  These are simpler, and take mere minutes to toss together, and are really delicious!  Once again, you can substitute many things here, the constant is the flour amounts and the liquids have to roughly remain in the same proportions, or you end up with a too wet mess.  Let me know what you think, and I actually took a few photos’ so you’ll see what inspired me about these this morning.

 

Mother’s Day Cherry Scones


1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar (can be refined white, or raw brown)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (cardamom might be nice here too..!)

2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 cup frozen (or fresh) cherries pitted and cut in half

1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

1/2 cup milk (I used coconut milk, since we never have milk in the house)

1 egg yolk

Scant 1/3 cup Demerara sugar (or some crunchy, large grain sugar for topping)

 

Preheat your oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil or a silpat.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon), stir well to combine.  Add the cold butter to the mixture and toss to combine.  With your finger tips or two forks, or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour, just until the cubes are better combined, and the mixture starts to look crumby.  Toss in the cherries, still frozen and the almonds if you’re using them and set aside.  In a jug or bowl, combine the milk and egg yolk and beat to combine well.  Here comes the tricky part, combine the liquids and flour/cherry mixture in the bowl with a wooden spoon.  It will instantly clump up, and so my best advice it to use your hands and, as gently as you can, mix the two together.  It will be a sticky messy dough, but it will hold together fairly well.  Don’t worry about clumps of flour or butter, that will all work itself out in the oven.


Cherry Scone dough


Once most of the flour in incorporated, turn the whole lot out onto the parchment lined baking sheet and shape it into a round. With a bench scraper, or a large knife, dipped in flour, cut the round into wedges.  Now you’re ready to bake!


Ready for the oven


Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  They will be darker than you think they will be, that’s due to the frozen cherries melting a bit.  Let them cool to room temperature to try them.  I like them just as they are, but you can split them and slather with butter too!


Fresh from the oven

 

So, I hope your Mother’s Day is wonderful!

 

 


Homemade Preserved Cherries (for cocktails, or what you will!)

Are you as in love with cocktails as I am?  I love all the ritual, the flavors and all the care that goes into a truly good cocktail preparation.  I think it all stems back to when I was a very small girl, and my parents would go out for a rare evening in Manhattan.  They would come home, and my mother would come to check on us, after the babysitter left, and she would smell faintly of Manhattan’s and smoke.  I loved that smell, because it meant she was home!  
As I may have mentioned before, Tim is a beer aficionado, and I don’t mean he drinks tons of Bud.  So, I have been turning him on to wine and spirits.  I have yet to make him a gin lover, but that might happen one day!  So, we go out for a cocktail as a grown up night cap when we get the chance.  We have a new cocktail establishment in Funky Ferndale, MI called The Oakland Art Novelty Company and they make most of their own “stuff”, including their own preserved cherries.  We also have a local restaurant called The Atlas Bistro, and they make their own bitters and cherries too.  I have about 8 different types of bitters on my cocktail table, and I have found a way to use all of them, with the exception of the mint… I think I will save that for the Grasshoppers I have been dying to make!  All that being said, my beloved Manhattan wouldn’t be the same without a rosy cherry waiting for me in the bottom of the glass! 
I decided after having several cocktails with their house made cherries in them at Atlas that I really needed to learn to make my own.  So, when we were at a summer get together at Tim’s cousin Allison’s house, and there was a sour cherry tree in her yard just bursting with cherries, I picked many and took them home, determined that I would do it.  Here are two attempts in one recipe.  One is with honeyed bourbon, and the other is with the delicious, if a bit sweet to drink alone, maraschino liqueur.  I honestly liked the honey bourbon upon first blush, but I have to admit, the maraschino cherries really are my fave now.  I can’t explain it, since they are nothing like the jarred varieties we all grew up eating on ice cream sundaes…. they are just wonderful.  All will keep indefinitely in the fridge, as long as you make sure they’re covered well and covered with liquid at all times.  Good luck!  It also has to be mentioned that I am posting this at the behest of my friend Manny.
Honey Bourbon or Actual Maraschino Cherries
Two cups of sour cherries, pitted
1 ½ cups of bourbon or maraschino liqueur (must be good quality)
½ cup of honey, or ½ cup sugar
In a heavy bottomed small pot off the heat, combine the sugar and maraschino liqueur, or the honey and bourbon and stir well until the honey or sugar is dissolved.  Place on a medium flame, being careful to stir gently, but not so vigorously as to splash and ignite the liquor.  Eventually the liquid will come to a boil, so let it biol for a minute or so, then turn off the flame, and remove the pot from the heat.  Carefully add the pitted cherries, and return to the heat, and cook over a medium flame for 10 minutes.  Since they’re pitted, the cherries won’t pop, but they should swell and start to bleed some of their color out.  Once they’ve cooked, take them off the heat and allow them to cool down enough so you can pour them safely into a container for storing.  At this point if you want to can them, you can.  If not just put them in your fridge and allow to cure at least overnight.  At the best, you want them to cure for three full days, then you can eat them, or use them in your fave drinks. 
It should be noted that you can use ANY kind of cherry here, no matter what the ratio is equal parts cherries, and alcohol (combined with sweetener if you’re using it) … I imagine yellow Rainier’s would be really interesting!  But the sours are really the least sweet, and so they compliment the liquor.  If you do use black cherries, I would omit the sugar/honey completely. Also, if you come upon this new “craze” honey bourbon (I have seen a Jim Beam variety of this already) just omit the honey and use 2 cups of the bourbon.
Let me know how it goes, and what you use them for!