Lifestyle

from Jude's Kitchen: it's cherry season

Darcel
Darcel's lamb with mint and cherries
— image credit: contributed

‘Tis the season to bite into the first orchard fruit of the season as cherries ripen around the Okanagan Valley and appear in local stores and at the farmer’s markets.

This is what we waited a year for, isn’t it?

And, cherries are not only delicious eaten out of hand, near where you can spit the pits, but also paired with yogurt and dark chocolate for a light dessert, or with your main course.

Darcel Markgraf has her roots on an orchard, so she’s found lots of innovative ways to use orchard fruits in her daily food preparations. She’s inspired by what’s around her.

You might be inspired too, by a visit to the 17th annual Cherry Fair at the Kelowna Museums’ Laurel Packinghouse, where the Orchard Industry Museum is located, 1304 Ellis St. in Kelowna’s north end.

It’s Saturday, July 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and it’s a family affair, with entertainment and games for the kids as well as an opportunity to taste some of the currently-ripe varieties of cherries that are grown around the valley.

You’d be surprised by how many different kinds of cherries there are, and many of the world’s cherries were developed right here in the valley, at the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre at Summerland.

Admission is $2 per person or $5 for a family of four. ($1 for each additional person).

Along with local orchardists and food vendors such as Gungho Gyoza, enjoy the Field of Rhythm Drum Circles, as well as Vic MacDonald from Bees Inc. who will talk about the bee hive in the Orchard Industry Museum.

For more great recipes for B.C. fruit, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, available wherever books are sold, including the B.C. Wine Museum, also located in the Laurel Packinghouse. It’s full of seasonal, locally-inspired recipes, 200 of them, for every meal of the day.

Darcel’s Marinated Sweet Cherries with Green Lentils & Spinach

This quick, nutritious, vegetarian option of Darcel's highlights the flavours of fresh, ripe Okanagan cherries.

Cherry Marinade:

1 c. (250 ml) Okanagan cherries

1 green onion

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil

1 tbsp. (15 ml) favourite vinegar

1 tbsp. (15 ml) mustard

pinch of salt, pepper & sugar

Wash, pit and quarter the fresh sweet cherries.

Mince the white part of the green onion and chop the green part, setting it aside as a garnish.

Use your favourite vinegar, such as red or white wine, cider or rice vinegar.

Rinse sprigs of thyme.

Choose your favourite mustard, such as Dijon, grainy or yellow.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl (except for the green part of the onions) and let sit while you cook the lentils.

Lentils:

1/2 c. (125 ml) small green lentils

1 c. (250 ml) vegetable broth

1 or 2 cloves of garlic

Sort and rinse the lentils and put into a pot.

Split garlic cloves in half and add, along with the broth, which may be made from a bouillon cube or paste if you don't have any home made.

Bring to simmering and cook for 20 to 45 minutes until they are tender but not falling apart.

Cherry Marinade:

1 c. (250 ml) Okanagan cherries

1 green onion

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil

1 tbsp. (15 ml) favourite vinegar

1 tbsp. (15 ml) mustard

pinch of salt, pepper & sugar

Wash, pit and quarter the fresh sweet cherries.

Mince the white part of the green onion and chop the green part, setting it aside as a garnish.

Use your favourite vinegar, such as red or white wine, cider or rice vinegar.

Rinse sprigs of thyme.

Choose your favourite mustard, such as Dijon, grainy or yellow.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit while you cook the lentils.

Strain the vinaigrette from the cherries and toss it into the hot, drained lentils.

Pile several cups of fresh, rinsed and dried, spinach leaves on a serving platter and arrange the hot lentils over top. The heat will wilt the spinach just a bit.

Top it with the marinated cherries, garnished with the chopped green onion tops.

Serves 2, but the recipe can be doubled.

 

Darcel’s BBQ Rack of Lamb with Cherries & Mint

Inspiration for this is what’s fresh all around, and the cherries and mint lighten the robust flavour of the lamb so much that a wine you might not normally pair with lamb, actually works quite well. Try this with Mission Hill Family Estate’s Five Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir with its berry flavours and hint of spice. It’s an exciting match with the rather exotic combination of cherry, mint and lamb. Begin preparing this dish a day ahead of time.

1 rack of lamb roast

drizzle of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

sprinkle of salt

Mint Sauce:

10 whole mint leaves, chopped

2 tbsp. (30 ml)  red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

A day ahead of when you want to serve this dinner, score the fat and drizzle the lamb roast with olive oil, salt, and sliced garlic.  Rub well, cover and refrigerate.

Prepare the mint sauce for the cherries by chopping the fresh mint leaves, then use a mortar and pestle (or improvise) to bruise the mint with oil, vinegar, and spices. Refrigerate the sauce.

The next day, remove the lamb from the refrigerator two or three hours prior to cooking it.

Preheat the barbecue until it reaches a temperature of 500 °F.

Remove the bits of garlic from the lamb and liberally season it with salt and pepper.  Lightly oil a frypan and brown each side of the roast over medium heat for two or three minutes.

Cover each of the bones with a strip of aluminum foil.

Place the roast on a foil barbecue pan or in an oven-proof frypan and roast on the barbecue, checking it with an instant-read thermometer when you feel it’s close to being done. Roast to an internal temperature of  145 F for medium-rare, 160 F for well-done,  20-45 minutes.

Remove and cover with foil to rest.

Cherry Sauce:

2 c. (500 ml) fresh sweet cherries

2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil

2 tbsp. (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. (3 ml) sugar

While the lamb cooks, prepare the cherries.

Wash, dry, stem, and pit the cherries.  Cut them into halves and toss them with the lemon juice, oil and sugar.  Line a baking sheet with foil and oil it generously with olive or canola oil.  Arrange the cherries, cut-side down, evenly to cover the baking sheet.

Put the sheet of cherries on the barbecue as you remove the lamb.  Roast them there for 10 minutes, longer if you want them more caramelized.

Remove the pan and turn the barbecue off. Toss the marinated mint sauce over the cherries and leave them on the open barbecue while you carve the rack of lamb.

Serve with Israeli couscous , Orzo, or polenta.

 

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