Cheesy and Nutty Cherry Pie without the Crust

Today’s recipe got me thinking. Remember the song Cherry Pie from 1990?

The other day I was talking to a co-worker and he was telling me about some hangout that 80’s glam rockers would go to in LA to get pie. Actual pie.

Me, being my immature self, cocked an eyebrow and said, “Yeah, I bet they went there to get “pie”. I bet they got a lot of “pie” there.”

The combination of that conversation and this cherry pie like dessert made me wonder if the band Warrant was inspired by this pie eatery.

Wikipedia informed me this wasn’t the case and I learned some other sad and interesting facts about the band Warrant, the cherry pie girl, and the lead singer who sadly passed away a few years ago to alcohol poisoning.

One fact, I found quite inspiring.  The cherry pie girl in the video used coke to slim down for most of her modeling shoots. Now this girl is not rail thin. She has the body that I’d like to have and lately I’ve been feeling bloated, fat, and envious of girls on social media who post photos of their skinny and fashionable selves.

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Look at that coke body!

It’s comforting to know that all I have to do is develop a coke habit and my fat will just slide off.

That’s sarcasm folks. My real feelings are a mix of concern for the model and an admitted smug satisfaction of, “Ha! I bet some of those skinny girls I envy are coke heads!”

I’m not always a wonderful human being.

In conclusion, I discovered that this song is not about cherry pie at all. Not that I’m surprised. This recipe, however is loosely based on cherry pie and comes from Cooking Light.

What you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 15 ounce carton part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon creme de cassis (black currant-flavored liqueur)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds of sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons of sliced almonds, toasted

The first step is to combine the rind and ricotta. Set this aside when finished.

Then combine the juice, liqueur, and pepper. You can use a small bowl for this. Now get out a 12 inch skillet that won’t melt in the oven. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of sugar evenly on the skillet. Heat this on medium-high heat for about two minutes or when the sugar starts to melt.

Add the cherries to the pan once the sugar starts to melt and cook for an additional two minutes. Pour the liqueur mixture over the cherries and cook again for two minutes or until the mixture thickens.

The cherries are almost ready to be put in the oven, but we’ve got a few steps left so at this moment you should pre-heat your broiler.

The last steps area as follows. Get a double boiler. If you don’t have one, I don’t, you can make your own by getting a small pan, adding a bit of water in the pan and then placing a bowl of some sort that won’t sink into the pan. Meaning, it’s not so small that it would fit entirely in the pan, but not so big that you can’t have it rest on top.

Whether you have one or not, place the remaining sugar, salt, and egg whites in the bowl or the top of the boiler. Cook this for about two minutes once the water in the pan has simmered.

While it cooks, stir continuously with a whisk. Once cooked, remove and then beat until it stiffens. If you have a mixer this process will be easier. Otherwise you’re just going to have to beat away with a fork for what feels like an eternity.

Add one-fourth of this egg mixture into the ricotta mixture until it has blended well. Keep doing this until all the of the egg whites have been used up.

Finally, evenly spoon in the remaining mixture over the cherries and broil in the oven for three minutes. If in those three minutes, it should be ready for consumption. After you sprinkle it with the almonds that is!

I enjoyed this desert. It’s just enough of a stray from a classic cherry pie to keep things interesting but not in disappointment. The ricotta was a bit much for me, at times. If I made it again, I’d probably add less of it. Then again, a beater, most likely would have given me a different result concerning the egg whites which could have altered the taste of the ricotta.

All in all, I recommend  trying this recipe out. Especially if you enjoy 80’s glam rock and cherry pie at diners.

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Supernova French Salads

The next few recipes from At Home with the French Classics are variations of Endive salads. So I’ve decided to just group them all together, but I will not be preparing them all at once. I’m in no mood for an endive buffet, sorry guys.

Pink Grapefruit and Endive Salad

The first variation listed is an Endive and Pink Grapefruit Salad aka Salade d’Endives et de Pamplemousse Rose.

Pamplemousse is a word I find extremely enjoyable right now. I feel like going around all day saying pamplemousse to people. Maybe in the process I’ll make a French friend. Un ami français, if you will. 

These salads are easy to make by the way. The best part about them is that they can become your own personal art project. I’m a Picasso type artist myself, but basically you arrange endive salads in a circle creating  a flower like effect.

For the grapefruit one, you put chunks of grapefruit in the middle.

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It’s abstract, deal with it.

I’m clearly an artisanal food genius here folks. This is some pure food Cubism that Picasso would be impressed by.

Enough about me, though, let us move on to the logistics.

What you’ll need for this recipe is 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 2 pinches of salt, 2 pinches of pepper, 1/2 cup of light vegetable oil, 3 Belgian endives, and one large pink grapefruit.

The first step in making this salad is to mix the vinaigrette. This consists of the vinegar, salt, pepper, and oil. Add the oil to the mix last to guarantee a balanced mix.

The next step is to peel off the leaves of your endives until you almost get to the core of the vegetable. In other words, you want fairly large leaves to place the grapefruit inside.

Speaking of the grapefruit, this cookbook has useful instructions on how to peel and cut it. That tip is to first cut off the ends and then do the apple trick only with a twist. What I mean by the apple trick is the old fashioned technique of peeling an apple where you take a knife and slowly peel in a diagonal formation. You will do the same with the grapefruit, but add a sawing motion as well. This is important, because grapefruit skin is stockier than apple skin. You’ve got to saw that baby off like Buffalo Bill would.

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Grapefruit doesn’t require lotion Bill!

I actually don’t know if Buffalo Bill sawed skin off, I shouldn’t make such claims. I just thought it would be funny. Sorry Bill!

Once you have the grapefruit peeled, you cut in half and then section it off based on it’s natural divisions. Meaning, tear apart at the seams already naturally placed by the fruit.

You will now be ready to serve. To do so, reference the picture above, (the grapefruit, not Bill) and then sprinkle it with your vinaigrette. That’s all there is to it.

My cookbook says that somehow these two bitter fruits are able to cancel out their bitterness by hanging out together. Almost like if you multiply two negative numbers, you get a positive.

Despite these mathematics, I still thought it was a little bitter. I’m kind of a bitter person at times, though, so maybe my bitterness cancelled out the mathematical taste rule. I’d consult a mathematician to be sure.

Watercress and Endive Salad

The second Endive salad variation includes watercress. The French call it Salade d’Endives et de Cresson.

The watercress version of this endive salad is best enjoyed in the winter. Not because it warms your heart or anything, but because that’s when most vegetables are in mercury retrograde. Watercress and endives are immune to the toils of mercury.

What you’ll need

  • 3 Belgian Endives, separated into leaves
  • 1 bunch of watercress, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 pinches of pepper
  • 1/2 cup of light vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

The process of making this variation is almost the same as the grapefruit. You will prepare the vinaigrette the same way, except for the addition of Dijon.

This time around I used grapeseed oil instead of vegetable. Grapeseed oil is a healthy alternative and it seemed to enhance the taste. If the healthy alternative is good, you might as well use it.

The placement of the salad is also similar to the grapefruit variation. You peel the first few endive leaves to use to create a star shape. In this variation, instead of the watercress being place on top of the leaves, you just place it in the middle with the leaves jetting out.

You can also slice and dice your endive and mix it with the watercress. I did both. Taste wise, I prefer slicing and dicing. It’s easier to eat and you can use the whole endive. Aesthetically, the star method is cute and it is fun. You can’t discredit that.

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Watercress Star

I liked this variation better than the grapefruit. I thought it was tasty, light, and fresh. I felt like a tall gazelle while eating it. Thankfully I’m not a gazelle, because then I’d probably get eaten by a lion or something.

Endive and Walnut

Our third installment is more of the chopped salad variety and includes walnuts.

It includes the same ingredients as far as the dressing goes, but if you’re feeling extra nutty the cookbook does recommend substituting the vegetable oil with walnut oil. For those of you on a budget, this is a little expensive in comparison to vegetable oil. If you’re going to shell out the cash for it, I recommend finding other recipes that call for it.

What you’ll need

  • 3 Belgian Endives, leaves separated and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 30 walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 pinches of pepper
  • 1/2 cup of light vegetable oil (optional to substitute two tablespoons of this with walnut oil)

Making this salad is pretty straight forward. There aren’t many steps in making this. You cut the endive, slice the walnuts into halves, add the dressing and then toss all together. Making the dressing consists of the remaining ingredients whisked together.

Extremely simple.

So far, this is my favorite endive salad. It was crisp, light, and crunchy. The cookbook says it’s usually served in winter as a side dish with some hearty meat, but I think it’d be great as a soup/salad combo myself.

I like that this one is chopped too. As pretty as the supernova endive leaves are, they just aren’t as satisfying in terms of texture and taste.

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Salad d’Endives aux Noix

Endive and Beets

Salade d’Endives et de Betteraves is the beet version and final installment of the Supernova Salads.

This one turned out to be another favorite due to mixing of boiled egg and beets. I can’t think of the proper words to describe the taste and texture of these two. It’s just comforting to me. Like warm butter and jelly on toast.

What you’ll need

  • 6 large beets
  • 3 endives
  • 3 tablespoons of tarragon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 3/4 cup light vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Boiled eggs

The first step is to bake your beets. Do so by pre-heating your oven to 400 and cutting off all stems, roots, and leaves from your beets.

Beets are a little hairy and dirty, so give them a nice scrubby bath before you continue to the next step which is to wrap them in aluminum foil. Place these wrapped beets in a pan and bake for  about 45 minutes.

You’ll know the 45 minutes were efficient if you can stick a knife and easily pierce the center of the beet.

Allow the beets to cool into a couple of beatniks, peel the skin and then dice then up.

You will then toss them in a dressing with ingredients provided above.

To make that dressing, first mix the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together. Then add the two remaining oils and you’re done!

As I said mix this dressing with the beets and then arrange those beets in the center of your serving plate.

The next step is to place the endive leaves so that they surround the beet mound, similar to recipes above.

The final step is my favorite, which is dicing a boiled egg and sprinkling on top.

You now have an artistic and tasty flower salad to eat!

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