• Port Poached Otto Farm Cherries with Brioche and Clover Dairy Crème

    For the Brioche:
    1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
    1/4 cup half-and-half warmed to 98 degrees
    1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    3 large eggs
    5 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature plus 4 ounces melted

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the yeast, half-and-half and 1/2 teaspoon evaporated cane juice in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix well and let stand until bubbles form on the surface. Add the flour, salt, eggs and beat with the paddle for 3 minutes at medium speed. Add 5 ounces of butter and mix until just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic and let rise in a warm, draft-free space until doubled in bulk – about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    Punch down the dough gently. Butter a cookie sheet and spread the dough onto it, making a 12 x 15 inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup of cane juice. Place in the center rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes until evenly golden brown.

    For the Cherries:
    1 pound cherries, washed, drained and pitted*
    1 cup boiling water
    1 1/2 cups port wine
    1 teaspoon potato starch** dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

    Place the cherries in a non-reactive bowl and pour the boiling water and 1 cup port over them. Cover the bowl with plastic and let steep for 2 hours.

    Drain the juice and pour into a sauce pan. Add the potato starch water mixture and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature and add the remaining 1/2 cup port.

    For the Crème:
    1 cup whipping cream
    1 cup sour cream
    Whip the cream to soft peaks then fold in the sour cream.

    To serve, cut the brioche into 8 portions, place on dessert plates and top with the poached cherries and crème.

    • *Epicurean Tip
      It’s the Pits!

      There are three ways to pit a cherry. Most often, I use a sharp paring knife to cut the cherry in half and then remove the seed. This keeps the cherry more aesthetic in appearance, which is important in some presentations. When presentation is not a concern – say for compotes, stewed fruit or pie – I use the garlic-crushing method. I lay the cherry on my cutting board, place the widest part of my French knife on it and smash down with my free hand. Lastly, there is always the cherry pitter. This can be purchased at all cooking supply stores. It is efficient and leaves the cherry intact for presentation.

    • *Epicurean Tip
      The Pot Thickens

      I prefer to use potato starch or arrowroot to thicken sauces, like the glaze for the poached cherries. I bring the liquid to a boil while I mix the thickener with cold liquid (water, wine, stock, marinade, etc.) Once the boiling stops, I stir in the thickener, raise the heat and whisk until it comes back to a boil. This technique prevents lumping.