What’s in season: A sign that summer is just around the corner, stone fruits are just beginning to show up at stands, including a variety of cherries. From dark, richly flavored Brooks to sweet Rainier cherries, we also spotted varieties including early Burlat, Tulare and Flavor Giant. Cherry season typically runs through July, although there are many variables, including the ongoing drought.
What to cook: At their peak, sweet cherries are best simply eaten out of hand, but can be used in a variety of ways both raw and cooked. Bake the cherries in quickbreads or cakes, or use to flavor a traditional clafoutis, a pudding-like dessert. You can also roast cherries to enhance their flavor, tossing the fruit with a little oil and cooking for just a few minutes until the fruit is softened and fragrant. Add the roasted cherries to everything from salads to a crisp meringue Pavlova.
What’s on the horizon: Green beans are just beginning to show up.
SWEET CHERRY PIE
Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling time | Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling over the pie
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 cups sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, preferably Grand Marnier
Prepared flaky pie crust for 1 double-crust pie (see related recipe)
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the three-fourths cup sugar with the cornstarch. Stir in the cherries, coating completely, then stir in the vanilla and orange liqueur until evenly combined.
3. Line a 9-inch pie plate with half of the pie crust. Pile in the cherries, sprinkling over the cherries any additional sugar-cornstarch mixture that did not stick to the fruit.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg to form a wash.
5. Prepare the top crust, adding decorative cutouts or cutting lattice strips if desired. Cover the top of the pie with the prepared top crust, sealing the edges with the egg wash and cutting vents if needed.
6. Brush the top of the crust with the egg wash, and sprinkle over a light coating of sugar.
7. Place the pie in the oven and bake until the crust is a rich golden color and the filling is bubbly and thick, about 1 hour and 15 minutes; rotate the pie halfway through for even coloring, and tent if needed to prevent over-coloring.
8. Cool before serving.
Each of 8 servings: 569 calories; 7 grams protein; 79 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 25 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 65 mg. cholesterol; 37 grams sugar; 449 mg. sodium.