Bringing in Summer with Cherries and Almonds

by Jacqueline on June 21, 2013

Beautiful fragrant and ripe cherries and almonds to complement the flavour

Cherry and Almonds – The perfect combination

In conjunction with Barclaycard who are celebrating their project entitled “Everything is Hotter in June” , I’ve been invited to put together a post showcasing my recommendations for the Summer.

Summer to me conjures up images of longer, fuller days. The feeling of being more energised and productive and a sense of overall well-being. It is the season to welcome higher temperatures, outdoor festivals and sporting events. Next week sees the unveiling of Glastonbury and Wimbledon, two huge events which will be followed by many Britons whether it be via physical or online presence. They will be the topic of many work and social related debates.

As a food blogger I also look forward to visiting local food festivals to discover artisan products. My preference however, would be to focus on the smaller festivals and not those that necessarily provide a platform to showcase “celebrity” chefs.

When Britain is bathed in sunlight, I love taking advantage of the natural terrain and just over an hour on the train from London, you can immerse yourself in some of the most beautiful, natural landscape of the Kent and East Sussex coast.

Coastal Route Dover to Deal, Kent

Belle Toute Lighthouse on the Seven Sisters coastal route

Cuckmere Valley at end of Seven Sisters route

Walking or hiking outdoors has become extremely popular in recent years following tighter curbs on personal expenditure. What can provide a better tonic than views such as this accompanied by some sunshine and a well prepared picnic? I try to do these routes at least once or twice a year. My beloved home of Scotland also has some breathtaking landscape. The West Highland Way which takes in Loch Lomond is not to be missed but there are plenty of other hiking routes which have stunning backdrops all taking on a different guise as the purple heather comes into full bloom in late Summer.

As I mentioned before ,Wimbledon starts next week (Come on Andy!) where strawberries and cream will be consumed by many attendees. While I do have a penchant for fragrant, ripe strawberries, this Summer for me will all be about the cherries!

It is believed that the anti-oxidants found in the skin of cherries can bring about health benefits. it is said that the red pigment in the skin is used in the treatment of arterial disease, some forms of diabetes and gout. The anti-inflammatory properties  found in cherries are said to be beneficial in conditions such as arthritis and even premature wrinkles! Also, health experts cite the hormone melatonin, found in cherries, helps to regulate a natural sleep cycle ensuring a good night’s sleep. As I have recently travelled from the Far East I wanted to put this to the test and can confirm that so far, the consumption of cherries has helped with my jet-lag enormously!

So in an effort to celebrate the hallmark of Summer, I have two very simple recipes using cherries and almonds. They are reasonably quick to prepare, the only time consuming task is removing the stones from the cherries.

The first is a delicious Cherry and Almond Summer Smoothie bursting with purple-red cherries. For this recipe which serves two. You will need:

  • 250g of refrigerated cherries, stalks and stones removed and split into two
  • 250ml of almond flavoured milk ( I used Almond Breeze)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 tsp of almond extract
  • a level tbsp of honey

Put all the ingredients into a blender and pulse until a smooth consistency is reached. For best results, consume immediately. If you prefer to have the smoothie extremely cold, add a few ice cubes to the blender when pulsing.

Cherry and Almond Summer Smoothie

The second recipe is based on a French dessert and reminds me of Summers spent with my parents-in-law in Provence.

Summers spent with parents-in-law in Provence

The clafoutis, although not from Provence but from from the Limousin region of France, is a classic warm pudding using baked black cherries and is especially popular during the Summer months in France. I’ve used ground almond powder in the batter and finished off the dessert with toasted flaked almonds.

A French classic – Comforting Almond and Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry and Almond Clafoutis

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Serving Size: Serves 4 for Dessert

An indulgent, comforting classic French dessert for all the family. To make an adult version, soak the cherries in kirsch for two hours before adding them to the frying pan.

Ingredients

  • 250g of washed cherries, stones and stalks removed and split into two
  • 65g of self raising flour
  • 35g of ground almond powder
  • 4 tbsp of granulated sugar, 2 tsbp for batter mixture, 2tbsp for syrup
  • 180 ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 30g of unsalted butter, 15g for batter mixture,15g for syrup
  • 2 medium sized eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp of flaked almonds, toasted

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven at 200 degrees°C.
  2. Butter an ovenproof dish round the sides and bottom. I used a dish that measured 10'' by 7''.
  3. Place the flour, ground almond powder, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla essence and milk into a blender and whizz the mixture for about 40 seconds making sure that any residue is pushed down the side of blender and leave to rest for a couple of minutes.
  4. In a frying pan, melt the remaining butter and then add the split cherries. Shake the pan tossing the cherries ensuring they are coated in butter.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the cherries and stir the mixture for just over a minute or until a syrupy consistency is achieved.
  6. Place the cherries split side down into the ovenproof dish and shake to ensure they are evenly spread.
  7. Pour the batter mixture on top of the cherries and place the dish on the medium tray in oven.
  8. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until a light golden brown colour is achieved.
  9. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the toasted almonds over the clafoutis.
  10. Serve immediately

Notes

Such an easy pudding to make, using seasonal fruit. Cherry and almonds flavours complement each other well. To intensify the almond flavour, you may wish to use almond milk instead or ordinary semi-skimmed milk.

http://howtobeagourmand.com/bringing-in-summer-with-cherries-and-almonds/

Serve the clafoutis with custard or even better, a crème anglaise to heighten the French experience. My recipe for crème anglaise can be found here.

Friday 21 June is the Summer solstice and marks the start of the Summer season. What recipes symbolise Summer for you?

I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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Disclosure: I was invited to write a post to celebrate Summer by Barclaycard. All opinions expressed are my own. All content belongs to me. Consideration will be given for expenses incurred in writing this post.



{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angela June 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Anything with strawberries and raspberries makes me think of summer. We used to do piece work in the summer holidays by picking the local fruit in Scotland so the smell of fresh berries always brings back those memories. We do however have some cherry trees in our garden which bear lovely sweet fruit every year but we normally eat straight from the tree. A lovely post Jacqueline.

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2 Jacqueline June 22, 2013 at 8:01 am

Thanks Angela. How lovely to have a cherry tree in your garden. I’m sure you would have to be very disciplined to not eat the ripe ones straight away! When I was a lot younger we used to pick strawberries in Scotland too. I seem to remember it being quite hot too! There is nothing quite like the taste of Scottish raspberries but I am a bit biased! Did you live in Scotland for a while?

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3 Angela June 25, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Both my and my OH’s family are from Scotland but I only lived there for 5 years while I was at high school (in Montrose away over on the east coast).

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4 Jacqueline June 25, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Oh lovely! And here was me thinking you were 100% South African. Thanks for letting me know.
Montrose is a lovely part of the world!

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5 Camilla @FabFood4All June 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Mmm, love the cherry and almond combo here and wonder if soaking the cherries in Amaretto might be an idea too (I have some in the cupboard which I really should use LOL). I might give this a go tomorrow as I have cherries in the fridge. Not sure about the measurement for the dish as that’s the size of a photo?

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6 Jacqueline June 22, 2013 at 8:03 am

Do you know I was hesitating to soak them in Amaretto too but I thought let’s stick to the traditional French way. Great minds think alike! Thanks for the tweets last night re the dish – it is 10″ by 7″.

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7 Jacqueline June 22, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Such a different smoothie. I wouldn’t have thought of putting those together, Must try it. Trying to not let the clafoutis catch my eye.

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8 Jacqueline June 23, 2013 at 11:26 am

Ach Jac – you are only on the diet two days a week – I’m sure the clafoutis can be introduced during a non-diet day :-)

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9 Sarah June 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I never think to make smoothies, but your cherry and almond version might just change that – especially if it helps prevent wrinkles! Lovely to see that deep blue sky in your photos too, it’s all too often missing from the summer here in Yorkshire.

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10 Jacqueline June 24, 2013 at 10:48 am

Thanks Sarah! The picture was taken a couple of years ago. The sunny days in the South East have been few and far between this year :-)

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11 Franglais kitchen, Nazima June 24, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Ooh I love clafoutis and have some tinned cherries waiting to be baked. The smoothie sounds great too!
perfect ideas for summer . The house in provence looks very nice! My in laws are in the South of Provence. A lovely part of the world isnt it!

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12 Jacqueline June 25, 2013 at 10:57 am

Thanks Nazima! We try to visit them in Provence during Summer/Winter months if time allows. There is such a wonderful climate!

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13 Caroline Taylor June 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

That place in Provence looks incredible. I love cherries. If you eat the seed inside the stone in the middle it tastes of almonds (it might not be that good for you though!).

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14 Jacqueline June 25, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I’ll remember that next time I eat a cherry Caroline. Not sure my teeth will thank you for it though :-)

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15 laura@howtocookgoodfood June 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Oh you are so right, cherries & almonds are such good partners in sweet dishes. Now that smoothie looks amazing. Clafoutis is also something I love but in fact never ever make. I am also envious of you having in-laws in such a beautiful part of the world and their house looks incredible!

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16 Jacqueline June 26, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Thanks Laura – I urge you to make it. Clafoutis is so easy to make and is such a comforting dish!

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17 Katerina June 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I loved the pictures Jacqueline! They convey a note of serenity that I desperately need right now. The clafoutis and the beverage both look delicious!

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18 Jacqueline June 27, 2013 at 9:51 am

Thanks Katerina. Hope you are not feeling too stressed at the moment. A coastal walk would be a great tonic for you.

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19 kellie@foodtoglow June 26, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Hmm, what recipe symbolises summer to me? Well, maybe not a recipe (too restless to settle on one thing), but ingredient-wise, the soft fruits are right up there, and cherries too. I tend to gravitate towards loads of salad with edibles from the garden and random made-up dressings. Because I cook some much for work I usually relish eating something quick and easy for myself. Loving the look of the smoothie! I have some frozen cherries, and if I remember I will make this up for myself tomorrow for brekkie!

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20 Jacqueline June 27, 2013 at 9:52 am

It’s always handy to have frozen fruit in the freezer isn’t it? Makes life easier if you are in the mood for compote, fruit crumble or smoothies.

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21 lisaiscooking July 8, 2013 at 7:40 pm

The photos are lovely! I want to visit all these spots. And, I want some cherries. They’re such a great summer fruit.

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22 Jacqueline July 17, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Thanks Lisa. I’m sure you have some fabulous cherry recipes!

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23 Chris July 10, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Lovely summery post with great pictures. I guess I missed a lot when driving near the cost to Dover.

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24 Jacqueline July 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm

There is wonderful scenery Chris. I think we followed the Time Out book which has walks not too far from London. It’s a good investment.

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