13 February 2009

The French Kitchen


Joanne Harris is a fine novelist. She wrote the very popular novel, Chocolat . Many people don’t realize that she is also the author of a couple of French cookbooks. The cookbooks offer the same vivid imagination that she brings to her novels. Written with Fran Warde,The French Kitchen and The French Market are splendidly beautiful. The recipes are simple and straight forward and cooked in the same assured calm that Harris brings to fiction.

There is great desert recipe for Soupe aux Cerises, in French, literally, cherry soup. The French are big on calling things “soup” that aren’t quite soups as we might think of them. Don’t expect to see this sitting in the Campbell’s aisle at the store. The French also love their bread and have no qualms about using bread as a basis for a dessert. If you are not in possession of a really great baguette, you can try this with a pound cake. At the Lucindaville blog, we posted a recipe for a beet cake with dried cherries. Slice the cake in two, cut out some rounds with a biscuit cutter and toast that for the base for a fancier dessert. I confess to cheating with this desert. I found a beautiful jar of pitted German cherries and I substituted them for the fresh cherries. I simmered them just enough to burn off the alcohol, about four minutes. If you use a "cake" base instead of the toast, the sugar is not needed.


Braised Cherries with Spiced Toasts

1 pound pitted cherries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kirsch
3 ounces butter
10 slices baguette
2 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon flour

Place the cherries, sugar and kirsch in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the slices of baguette on each side until golden.

Remove the bread, dust with sugar and cinnamon, and place in the bottom of a serving dish. When the cherries are soft and cooked, remove from the juice and pile on to the bread.

Blend the flour with a little water and, using a balloon whisk, quickly mix this into the warm cherry juice. Gently bring to the boil. The mixture will thicken slightly, becoming velvety. Pour over the bread and cherries and serve.


Cook this sweet soup and settle in with one of Joanne Harris' novels. Fine, I cheated with the jarred cherries, go ahead and pop in the DVD and "watch" her novel!

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