Last year I visited the Jerte Valley in Spain, where they grow the Picota cherries, twice; once during the stunning blossom season and again when the cherries were ready. It’s a short season, around six weeks long, but all Spaniards look forward to these particularly sweet and crunchy stemless cherries. I love them. They should be in British shops now, so don’t miss out. For some reason they are very cheap, around a pound a punnet. We should be paying more.
Picota cherry and rose gelato
- 150 g caster sugar
- 20 g cornflour
- Pinch of sea salt
- 200 ml whole milk
- 400 ml sour cream
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 250 g Picota cherries, pitted, chopped
- Extra cherries to decorate
- Put the sugar, cornflour, salt and 2 tablespoons of the milk, into a small pan over a low heat. Whisk the mixture together as you warm it, then add the rest of the milk.
- Continue to whisk until it thickens. The mixture will become translucent, meaning that the cornflour has cooked through properly.
- Remove from heat and add the hot liquid to the sour cream. Add the rose water and the Picota cherries. Leave to cool, then add to your ice cream maker and churn for 90 minutes.
Picota cherry salsa with baked white fish
For the Picota cherry salsa
- 100 g Picota cherries, pitted and finely chopped
- 2 limes, juice of
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
- 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
- handful fresh dill or coriander
- 1 tbsp sea salt
For the fish:
- 2 plaice or haddock filets
- 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- sea salt and pepper, freshly ground
For the Picota cherry salsa:
- Pit and chop the Picota cherries, adding them to a bowl
- Squeeze the fresh lime juice into the bowl
- Add the red onion and green chilli
- Add the dill and or coriander
- Add the salt
- Place in the fridge until the fish is ready
For the fish
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC
- Wash the fish filets and dab dry with kitchen paper
- Put baking parchment on a flat baking tin
- Lay down the fish filets, tucking the lemon slices underneath
- Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil
- Place the tray on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filets.
- Remove from the oven and put a generous spoonful of the Picota cherry salsa on each filet.
- Serve hot or luke warm
Picota cherry clafoutis
- 150 g Picota cherries, washed
- 20 g butter for greasing
- 4 eggs
- 150 g caster sugar
- 50 g plain flour
- 600 ml double cream
- 1 tsp vanilla essence or paste
- Cup cherry brandy
- Preheat the oven to 180cº
- Butter the baking dish/tray
- Spread the cherries in the dish
- Whisk the eggs then add the sugar. Slowly sift in the flour, while stirring, then add the cream, whisking thoroughly.
- Add the vanilla paste
- Pour the batter over the cherries.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until set. Can be served hot or cold.
- Brush the top of the pudding with cherry brandy for added naughtiness.
- Can be accompanied with cherry brandy for sipping.
Cream Heart/Coeur à la créme, with Picota cherry compote
- 150 g mascarpone
- 100 g double cream
- 50 g icing sugar
- A few drops of almond essence
For the compote:
- 500 g Picota cherries, chopped, leaving some whole, pitted
- 70 g caster sugar
- Cup Cherry brandy
- Juice of half a lemon
For the coeur à la créme:
- Mix all the cream heart ingredients (mascarpone, cream, vanilla, icing sugar) together by whipping gently (not overmuch as mascarpone easily turns to butter).
- Dampen the cheese cloth and line your dish with it, pressing the cloth into the corners of the heart.
- Scoop the mixture into the cheese cloth lined dish and smooth the top. Give the mould a little bang on the worktop. Place on a saucer in the fridge to drain for a few hours.
For the compote:
- Warm the cherries in a medium sized saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice until they are bubbling hot.
- Let it cool to lukewarm and add the cherry brandy.
- Unmould the cream heart carefully, gently peeling off the cheesecloth, and flip it over onto the dish.
- Surround the heart with warm berries. Serve.
Picota Cherry Chocolate Brownies
- 200 g of good quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa or more
- 200 g milk chocolate, in chip form or broken up
- 150 g unsalted butter
- 50 g chocolate powder
- 100 g self-raising flour
- 200 g light brown soft sugar
- 3 eggs
- Vanilla essence/paste
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 300 g Picota cherries, pitted and sliced in half
- Preheat oven to 170-180C and line a cake tin with baking parchment.
- Break up the dark chocolate and half the milk chocolate, into rough chunks and cut the butter into pieces.
- Place the butter into a bowl and add the dark and milk chocolate chunks and bain-marie it all, mixing until it’s uniform. Take the bowl off the heat and leave it to cool.
- Chop the remaining milk chocolate into small chunks (if not using chips) and set aside.
- Sieve the chocolate powder, flour, nutmeg into a bowl and set aside.
- Cream together the eggs, sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence until light and fluffy using an electric mixer. This will take a while, the resulting mixture should be thick and nearly twice the volume of what you started with.
- Fold in the butter, chocolate mixture gently to avoid losing the air you’ve creamed in.
- Fold in the flour, chocolate powder, nutmeg and most of the Picota cherries bit by bit. Mix until uniform.
- Pour into the tin and sprinkle the chips and remaining cherries on top.
- Place in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes. The centre of the brownie should no longer wobble when you gently shake the cake tin. If it does, it needs a few more minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes. Then cut into squares.