23 July 2007

Ry and Si learning to knit has garnered a new favorite recipe. Let me explain. The Berkeley Central Library currently has free knitting class for kids on Fridays from 4-5 pm. It's really great because the women who teach have great energy and it's really fun. So while they knit, I peruse the shelves. I often find cool DVDs on different world music and dance - anything you can think of, really. So, as I was trying out the magazine section thinking I could find something trashy like People or Us, I happened upon Vegetarian Times. If you know anything about me at all, you know that I'm a cherry freak. Those first cherries that start creeping out pre-Spring get me going, and when full-on cherry season is here I reach somewhat of a nirvana. But I digress. My discovery in the July/August issue of Vegetarian Times:

Sweet Cherry Soup
Serves 8

5 cups fresh or frozen pitted cherries, divided
1 cup tart cherry juice
½ cup port wine
¼ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. cornstarch
8 whole cherries

1. Bring 4 cups cherries, cherry juice, port, sugar, cinnamon stick and 1 ½ cups water to a boil. Reduce heat to med. Low and simmer 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and puree until smooth in blender or food processor, or wit immersion blender.

2. Whisk cornstarch with ½ cup soup in a small bowl. Return mixture to soup and whisk to combine. Chill 3 hours or overnight.

3. Coarsely chop remaining pitted cherries, ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with chopped cherries, garnish each bowl with 1 whole cherry and serve.

By all accounts this recipe was a hit. And let me tell you that the next day for lunch it was even better. I highly recommend making it the day before you want to serve it. The flavors co-mingle during their refrigerator time in a way that is wholly satisfying.

I did find another recipe in the same issue that I love as well. It didn't photograph quite as well, but it was also a big hit.

Hot Tamale Burgers
Serves 8

1 cup short-grain brown rice
1 ½ tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 ¼ cup)
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
¾ cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 medium ear)
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minces, plus 2 tsp. sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup instant masa harina or yellow cornmeal
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 ½ tblsp. fresh lime juice
¾ tsp. lime zest

1. Bring rice and 3 cups water to a boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat t low, cover and simmer 40 minutes, or until water is absorbed and rice is tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, corn chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic, cumin and salt. Sauté 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring once or twice. Whisk ½ cup water with masa harina in bowl. Add to skillet mixture, cover, and cook on low 10 minutes more, stirring once or twice (mixture will feel like thick cornmeal mush).

3. Remove from heat, and stir in hot rice, cilantro, lime juice and zest. Cool 20 minutes. Wet hands and shape mixture into 8 burgers. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

4. Prepare charcoal fire or gas grill for medium heat. Brush burgers and grill rack with olive oil. Grill 7 minutes per side, or until crusty on the outside. If adding cheese, top burgers during the last 3 minutes of grilling.

I omitted the bell pepper and cilantro because, well, yucch. They had just a little spicy kick at the end - but not too much because Si ate hers all up and wanted more. We served them inside warm tortillas (flour and corn) with some avocado. And they stayed together on the grill...which can be an issue with rice-burgers.

By the way, if you haven't been to the Berkeley Central Library, you really should go. It's quite beautiful.....and everyone can learn something new!

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