(Apologies for the awful picture quality - blame it on my mobile phone)
I don’t profess to having much of a garden but I do have a few herbs growing out there and, in a huge pot, a miniature Stella cherry tree.
The tree’s enjoying its third summer at the moment and, up until a week or so ago, was full of beautifully sweet, deep red cherries. I’ve no idea how much it’s yielded in weight, but it’s enough to say that I was surprised that such a small tree could produce so much fruit. It's obviously been a good year for cherries, although at around £3.50 a punnet in the shops, it's hard to believe it.
On Monday last week Lise & her boyfriend helped me harvest most of them. I didn’t take them all - once the netting was off I wanted to leave some for the birds to enjoy. I’m sure they've been eyeing them up for a while now and although I want food for myself and family, I’m happy to share with the wildlife. We also munched a few ourselves while we were picking them, as you do.
With some of the cherries I made a cherry sauce that I served that evening with succulent pork loin steaks, new potatoes and a mixed salad that I was lucky enough to find at our local petrol garage reduced to 49p for a big bowl full (lettuce, rocket, beetroot, carrot, and sweet corn). It's 'display until' date was the day I needed it and as I'd planned to pop out to get some fresh salad stuff later, I was happy as a bonking bunny when I saw it peeping out at me from the shelf, especially as I'd only gone in for milk for breakfast. Even the sturdy plastic bowl it came in is better than a plastic bag as I've washed it out and will be using it in the future for serving salad from. Thinking about it, it'll make a decent jelly form too.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the sauce.
I hadn’t tried this sauce before but fancied something different so I decided to use a basic wine sauce, add the cherries and a few bits and bobs and see how it went. The result was absolutely fandabuloso.
If you’re interested, this is how you make it.
1 smallish onion, chopped
200 g fresh cherries, halved and pitted (messy job but you get to eat some along the way)
A dollop of butter
Couple of tablespoons olive oil
200 ml red wine (you get to drink some of this as you go, too)
500 ml chicken stock
Couple of pinches of dried thyme
About 2 tbsp corn flour
- Heat butter and olive oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat and add the onion and those gorgeous, juicy cherries (stop eating them well before this point or there won't be enough left).
- Cook until the onion starts to soften then stir in the wine and stock (best to stop drinking now or you know you might end up burning the dinner). Add the thyme then simmer until the sauce has reduced. Stop for a while and just breathe in the wonderful aroma.
- Mix the cornflour with about twice as much water in a small cup or whatever you have handy that's suitable. Add to the sauce a little at a time while stirring until it's as thick as you like it.
Lise and Bjorn both loved it. Bjorn's memorised the recipe so that he can try it at home and was so eager during the cooking that he kept coming into the kitchen to have a whiff, bless him. And believe me, serving pork and cherries together was a match made in taste heaven. Blissful!
What's more, I made it again last Saturday! Lise & Bjørn had gone back to Norway so I invited a friend over for dinner and you know how it is... any excuse. She was a little apprehensive when I told her what we were having as she doesn't usually like meat with fruit sauces but she said she'd enjoyed it and as her plate was cleared of both the pork and the sauce, I can only guess that it went down a treat. Either that or she's so greedy she'll eat anything (sorry Caz, I know that isn't really true).
The remaining cherries are now sitting nicely in a mixture of sugar and vodka and will, with any luck, turn into something very drinkable by Christmas.
Oh how I've enjoyed that little tree!
I'm not the only one either. Last week I watched a real cherry connoisseur, a beautiful blackbird, enjoying a sweet lunch courtesy of my tree. I hope he was as satisfied with the fruit as I've been.