sour cherries

Accidental Locavore Squash Blossoms

Even skipping a week from the Accidental Locavore’s farm box doesn’t mean skipping out of the kitchen. Actually, I’ve been pretty busy putting all this great stuff to good use. So you can get a lot of the recipes, they’re all on the site and linked below.

A special treat from the last box were squash blossoms. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re the pretty orange flowers that produce zucchini and squash. Not only are they edible, they taste great! Squash blossoms are very delicate so you need to use them right away. I wanted to stuff mine, since that’s probably my favorite way to eat them. It’s a little fussy but not difficult, you just have to be careful. These were delicious and it was interesting how light the seltzer made the batter. Click here for the recipe. Accidental Locavore Fried Zucchini Blossoms

A friend of mine saw a recipe for cheesecake in the NY Times and sent a plea around, looking for someone to make it. Since we were invited to a party in the Poconos the Locavore thought it would be a good excuse to dig out the springform pan and use up the crème fraiche from our recent crème fraiche showdown (results coming soon). The cheesecake was topped with some sour cherries from the Greenmarket which for the first time, I managed to pit without making a serious mess. Because it’s my favorite part of any cheesecake, I added a graham cracker crust. It was delicious, nice and light for the summer. Usually I like my cheesecake plain, but this worked well with the sour cherries (giving you a one-month window of opportunity to make it). Here’s that recipe.Accidental Locavore Cheesecake

I don’t know if you cook like this, but for the Accidental Locavore, one thing, whether it’s food, or a piece of equipment, usually leads to another. Because I was afraid my Cuisinart had bitten the dust while emulsifying liverwurst, I decided to try a quick green harissa with lovely local spinach and cilantro, to see if my faithful Cusinart from college was still with us. Luckily, all it seemed to need was a rest from all that sausage glop and it breezed through the harissa with ease. Harissa, if you’re not familiar with it, is a condiment from North Africa, usually red and very spicy. It adds a punch to couscous and is an essential part of merguez.Accidental Locavore Green Harissa

Once the harissa was done, was more merguez far behind? Since all the gear was out to make the liverwurst and cheesecake (and yes, I do realize what a disgusting combination that sounds like), it was easy enough to pull together a batch of merguez. This recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow of Charcutepalooza fame, is delicious. I just substituted my green harissa for the traditional red. Delicious, but what’s not to like about lamb sausage with cilantro and spinach?

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Accidental Locavore CheesecakeA friend of the Accidental Locavore saw this recipe in the New York Times and asked for someone to make it. I added a graham cracker crust, my favorite part of any cheesecake and used my own crème fraîche. I generally like my cheesecake plain, but if sour cherries are in season, they’re a great addition. This comes together easily and the sauce can be made a day ahead of time.

Adapted from the NY Times, it takes about an hour and a half plus cooling time.

For the crust (optional):

  • 15 graham crackers
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter

For the cheesecake:

  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese (in other words, 1 1/2 packages of cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese (something mild)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups crème fraîche
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

For the cherries:Accidental Locavore Sour Cherries

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 pints sour cherries, pitted (if you don’t have a cherry pitter, use the flat part of a big knife and pound them, just like pitting olives. It can get messy)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 9″ springform pan and set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Crush the graham crackers in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. With the food processor running, add the melted butter and pulse until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides. Place on a baking sheet.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and goat cheese until very smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until no lumps remain. Beat in the crème fraîche and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between eggs and beat until combined.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 250 degrees and bake until the cake is just set (it will still wobble a little in the middle), 45 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. When cool, refrigerate until ready to serve.

While the cheesecake is cooling, or the day before, make the cherry topping. Pour the sugar and 2/3 cup water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the cherries and balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cherries soften and release their juices, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to a bowl. Continue cooking the liquid in the pan until the sauce reduces by half, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir back in the cherries and any juice from the bowl.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the pan before unmolding and serve with the cherry topping.

I made this in a 9″ springform pan for the party and a small ramekin so my friend could taste it. Both came out fine, so feel free if you want to make mini cheesecakes.

Yield: One 9-inch cheesecake.

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