05 July 2009

For Annemarie: I made a cherry grunt for you

I returned to blogging a year and a half ago, not sure what to expect after a six month absence. My bloggy friends were waiting for me with open arms, as did new readers, as warm and comforting as a mug of steaming hot chocolate on a cold winter's day.

One of those new readers soon became one of my dear friends.

In Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar I found a kindred spirit--someone with a love of (and a respect for) words, another patient sighing life observer and someone who's not afraid to tackle pretty much anything in the kitchen

I have no idea how many emails have passed between the two of us. We laugh. We moan. We snark. She was there for me on the first anniversary and held my hand (and patiently read my accounts) as I returned to the dating world.Truth be told, I sometimes feel sorry for her...after I've hit "send" and have unleashed a 2000+ word torrent detailing the minutiae of my existence, railing against whatever has caught my attention.

After all that, I was more than a tad surprised when she agreed to be my co-hostess for last month's Daring Bakers Challenge. Really...you'd think that someone who's heard that much of my life would run screaming at the prospect of running an online event with me that could have 1000 participants. That poor brave girl agreed. I think it was sleep deprivation from being a new mum.

A better partner I couldn't have asked for. We were of the same mind when it came to challenge and quickly agreed upon the tarts. Every once in a while I'd toss a recipe her way to test and she'd toss back her comments and suggestions. She's gifted with words and came up with great additions to the tome of a challenge post. She pretty much looked after monitoring the DB Challenge forum; she answered questions and offered words of encouragement and advice to everyone who posted questions, concerns and comments.

Now that we're on to the next challenge and back to our regular blogging and regular lives, I was left with one question. How do I thank her?

Well...with a post and a treat...how else?

Ever since Rodney MacDonald, Nova Scotia's former premier, tried to lure David Letterman to the maritime province, with (among other things) a blueberry grunt in his Top Ten a year and a half ago, I've had grunts on the brain.

For those of you who haven't had one, a grunt is essentially cooked or stewed fruit, with a baked dumpling-ish topping. The name is probably from the grunting sound the fruit makes as it releases its last gasps of air and collapses into a warm, softened state, underneath its cakey, dumplingy or biscuitty blanket.

Since I've been anticipating our local cherries (soon, I hope), I've had cherries on the brain. The road side fruit barker has set up his wares and although he's selling American cherries, they are much cheaper and in much better condition than what I can find at the bigscarymegamart. Luckily enough, our dear Annemarie loves cherries.

Ideally I'd make a cherry grunt with sour cherries, but they are elusive creatures and won't be around for a few weeks. Instead of using canned sour cherries, I decided to use the barker's sweet fare and mimicked some of the sourness by using a combination of wine and balsamic vinegar in the stewing liquid. If you don't want to use wine, I'd either use sour cherry juice or use water or apple juice and increase the balsamic vinegar to a dessertspoon or possibly a tablespoon. I'm also fresh off a cobbler run so I was more than heavy handed when adding the milk (150mls) to the dumpling batter, making it much looser than it should be. So my grunt looks more like a cobbler...no matter, I think Annemarie would forgive me.

Cherry Grunt

550-600g pitted cherries
60g brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
100ml wine
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
140g ap flour
50g sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
60g softened butter
75ml milk
slivered or chopped almonds (optional)

Combine cherries, brown sugar, cornstarch, wine, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for a couple of minutes and add the honey. Turn off the hob and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

Combine flour, sugar baking powder, a couple of pinches of salt and butter until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency. Add the milk and mix until combined.

Pour the cherries into a 2L baking dish. Spoon the batter over top, letting gaps appear so the cherries will ooze through and allow their last gasps of breath. Strew with nuts.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden.

Umm...Annemarie...I did want to send you some, but umm...this is all that's left...

You can tell whenever I've made a cherry dessert with real cherries...there's always at least one pit found...I call it "the lucky pit."


What I'm reading: The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

I'm a quill for hire!

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef said...

This looks grunt-tastic. I think more dish names should be onomatopoeic. Anyone for Strawberry Slurp?

Another recipe to file away for summer...

Annemarie said...

I do forgive you. :) And thank you - very kind words and dedication. Thank you for the cherries and all else. x

Anita said...

That's a lovely story, and a gorgeous dish.

My Little Space said...

That looks delicious! Yummy....

Valérie said...

I had never heard of a "grunt"... Judging from your pictures and the ingredients, it looks delish! I'm sure Annemarie appreciates the thought. :-)

Lisa Turner said...

Such a lovely post and quite the special treat. Just the sort of fruit dessert for a cherry fiend like myself.

breadchick said...

I LOVE Grunts! And it is cherry season here in CT and Michigan, so this will absolutely perfect for a summer BBQ.

A lovely tribute to a good friend.