Hispanic Lifestyle took our cameras to the state of Washington’s Yamika valley were we are just in time for the beginning of cherry harvest season. The Northwest is known for growing some of the best Cherries in the world and Hispanic Lifestyle had rare opportunity to learn about the process that gets cherries from the tree to your table.

We began our tour of cherry country by speaking with Mr. Alfonso Contreras a 14 year veteran of the industry who pointed out the characteristics of a perfect cherry.

Once the Cherries are processed their ready to be eaten. Hispanic Lifestyle was lucky to have Chef Greg Atkinson prepare a wonderful meal featuring these seasonal delights. In this segment Chef Greg talks about the meal he prepared for our group and the ingredients that where selected to compliment the Cherries.

Hispanic Lifestyle headed back to California to the Annual Rods and Rails event held at the Orange Empire Railway Museum,in Perris California. We first spoke with Mr. Walter Carter who share with us a little history of the city’s annual event.

Rods and Rails is supported and organized by community volunteers. We spoke Joseph Chavez a committee member about the group and why he got involved.

Displaying his car at the Rods and Rails event was Larry Pacheco who came down the hill from Yucca Valley. Larry began our conversation by talking about his passion for restoring old cars.

In program 128 (HLTV5128) Hispanic Lifestyle headed to Yakima Washington for the harvest of Cherries. Below are the recipes featured in the program. Enjoy.

Note: All recipes provided by Greg Atkinson on behalf of Northwest Cherries.

Mixed Green Salad with Northwest Cherries, Honey-Roasted Almonds, and Fresh White Goat Cheese
(Serves 4)

Northwest Cherries pair beautifully with almonds, especially with these honey roasted almonds, but if they seem too fussy, opt for the glazed almonds that have recently become available in supermarket aisles. Try the cherry vinaigrette with other salad combinations too, like grilled chicken cherry Caesar.

For the Almonds:
4 cups whole, natural almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the Cherry Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup pitted Bing cherries
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil

For the Salad:
1/2 pound (about 8 cups) mixed salad greens,
washed, dried, and chilled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Bing or other dark Northwest Cherries, split in half and pitted
1 (4 ounce) log fresh white goat cheese

1.) To caramelize the almonds, preheat the oven to 400 and spread the almonds on a baking sheet. Bake until they smell toasty and turn golden when broken in half, about 8 minutes. While the almonds are toasting, whisk the olive oil, sugar, water and until the mixture is foamy. Stir in the toasted almonds and toss until the syrup has all evaporated. Toss the syrup coated nuts with the reserved sugar and salt mixture. Store the extra almonds in an airtight container to serve as a snack.

2.) Make the vinaigrette. Pile the cherries, vinegar, and oil in a blender and purée until smooth.

3.) Toss the salad. In a large salad bowl, dress the salad greens with the Bing cherry vinaigrette, tossing to lightly coat every leaf; sprinkle the dressed greens with salt and pepper. Distribute the dressed greens evenly among 4 chilled salad plates. Top each plate with pitted Bing cherries, honey-roasted almonds, and crumbled goat cheese. Serve at once.
Pan Seared Salmon with Northwest Cherry Salsa
(Serves 4)

Wild king salmon, especially premium runs like Yukon River and Copper River salmon which are super rich in natural fat, respond very well to this technique. I like to serve the salmon with a variety of spring vegetables and new potatoes arranged in a random mosaic around the fish. With premium grades of king salmon, no sauce is necessary.
(Serves 4)

Cherry Salsa:
1 teaspoon crushed red chilies, or to taste
2 tablespoons boiling water
3 cups pitted ripe Northwest Cherries, sliced in half and pitted
1/3 cup sweet red pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup purple onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

Put the crushed red chilies and the sea salt in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Pour on the boiling water and set aside so that the chilies will soften. Stir the pitted cherries, red pepper, purple onion, lime juice, sugar and salt into the softened red chilies. Toss the mixture and allow it to stand for 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, toss in the chopped cilantro.

Preparing the Salmon:
4 6-ounce pieces of wild salmon filet with the skin on
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons oil (olive, peanut, or canola)

1.) Use a pair of tweezers or hemostats to remove any pin bones in the salmon. Sprinkle the fleshy side of the filets with sugar, salt and pepper. Put the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook the salmon, seasoned-side down (skin-side-up), until it forms a browned crust and slips easily from the bottom of the pan, about 4 minutes. Transfer the salmon from the sauté pan to a baking sheet, placing the seared salmon skin side down.

2.) When all the salmon pieces are browned, they may be finished at once, held at room temperature for up to half an hour, or parked in the refrigerator for several hours. To finish the filets, preheat the oven to 400 and bake the salmon until it is sizzling on its skin and is just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

3.) To serve, slip a spatula between the salmon filet and the skin, which should be stuck fast to the baking sheet. If some of the skin comes off the pan with the salmon, pull it gently from the filet. Serve the salmon, browned-side-up. Top each serving with cherry salsa.

San Francisco Style Rice Pilaf with Saffron
(Makes about 6 cups)

Like millions of other Americans of my generation, I was a victim of the myriad advertising campaigns that ran on national television during the 1960s their inherent, brain-numbing jingles that continue to resound in my mind decades later. Among the many inane tunes there is the one for Rice-a-Roni. According to the company’s web site, the San Francisco treat was created by the DeDomenico family, who opened a pasta factory in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1912. They changed the name to “Golden Grain Macaroni Company” in 1934, and introduced Rice-a-Roni in 1958, inspired by an Armenian neighbor’s recipe for Rice Pilaf. The Quaker Oats Company purchased Golden grain in 1986. I loved the stuff when I was a child, but determined as a young adult that I could make a better version from scratch; I was right.

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups Basmati, jasmine or other fragrant long grain white rice
1/4 pound dried angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti noodles
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup dry white wine, sake or Vermouth
3 cups chicken broth
1 generous pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 bunch green onions, both white and green parts, trimmed and chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1.) Melt the butter in the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and add the slivered almonds. Stir until they release some of their fragrance and become lightly toasted.

2.) Break the noodles into short pieces, about 2-inches long and stir them in with the almonds until they are golden brown. Stir in the rice, garlic and thyme and sauté until very fragrant, about 2 minutes or until the rice is translucent.

3.) Stir in the white wine and the broth then stir in the saffron threads, salt and pepper. Taste the broth to make sure you have enough salt and correct the seasoning if necessary. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer until the rice has absorbed the cooking liquid, about 30 minutes.

4.) Stir the green onions and parsley into the cooked pilaf and serve hot.

Roasted Garlic Spears

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse garlic spears and pat dry. Place on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for seven minutes.

Northwest Cherry Chocolate Cake
(8 servings)

Every kid loves the look of that Old World confection of chocolate and cherries known as Black Forest cake, but when they actually get close to one, it can be a little disconcerting. This new take on the old Black Forest theme will satisfy that childhood craving at last.

For the Cake:
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup flour
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate or 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/4 cup Kirschwasser or cherry brandy
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Topping:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pound (about 4 cups) Northwest Cherries, pitted

1.) Preheat the oven to 325[de]F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and place it in a larger baking pan.

2.) Whisk together 1/2 cup of the sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine the chocolate and butter and stir until just melted then whisk in the boiling water and Kirschwasser. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, then whisk in the flour mixture and stir until smooth. In a clean, dry bowl beat the egg whites with the vinegar and salt until they hold soft peaks, then whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the egg whites are stiff. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Transfer batter to the prepared spring form pan and wrap the pan in aluminum foil; put the foil wrapped cake pan in a larger baking dish and pour boiling water in the baking dish around the pan to reach halfway up the sides. (This prevents a crust from forming on the cake and makes it uniformly tender right to the edge of the pan.) Bake until the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake on a rack before removing from the pan.

3.) Whip the cream and stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag or a self-sealing food storage bag and pipe the whipped cream onto the cooled cake, then pile on the cherries.

Northwest Cherry Sorbet
(About 6 servings)

In the food processor, frozen cherries make a wonderful sorbet.

1 cup sugar
1 cup cold bottled water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 pound (about 4 cups) individually quick frozen cherries, technique follows

1.) In a mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, water, lemon juice and almond extract until most of the sugar is dissolved. Since it’s cold, it will not dissolve completely; don’t worry. Put the mixing bowl with the syrup in the freezer for an hour.

2.) Put the grater attachment in the food processor and push the frozen cherries through the grater. (It’s important to use this attachment because the regular blade will not work on frozen cherries).

3.) As soon as the frozen cherries are grated, whisk them into the chilled syrup. Serve the sorbet semi-soft, or transfer the slushy sorbet to a sealed container and hold in the freezer until set, about one hour. 

Northwest Cherry Bounce Cocktail
(Makes 2 cups)

In winter, the essence of the cherries, captured in a sweet, potent drink, is released in the company of friends. The same drink may be made with brandy instead of vodka.

4 cups sweet cherries, rinsed
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups vodka

In a 1-quart canning jar with a lid, combine the cherries, sugar, cinnamon stick, and vodka. Every day for 2 weeks turn and gently shake or swirl the jar. Strain the liqueur into a clean dry pint jar and discard the solids. Keep in a cool dark place until Christmastime.

ADDITIONAL RECIPES

Grilled Wild Salmon with Warm Bing Cherry, Sweet Onion, and Tarragon Chutney
Dalis Chea of Herban Feast created this recipe for fresh cherry chutney that brings together some of our favorite flavors of summer. Chea studied at Western Culinary institute in Portland and worked at Canlis when Greg Atkinson was the executive chef there at the turn of the century. Herban Feast is a fantastic space for parties located in the Sodo neighborhood of Seattle; it looks like a cross between a cathedral and a warehouse with just the right balance of sacred and grungy. Chea recommends serving the grilled salmon with a rose, but we’re more inclined to pour a Pinot Noir like the casual but sumptuous Red Truck Pinot from Sonoma.
(Serves 4) 

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus oil for grilling
1 Walla Walla sweet onion, sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
1/2 pound Bing cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons tarragon leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
11/2 pounds wild salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions
Salt and pepper to taste

1.) To make the chutney, In a hot saucepan, caramelize onions in oil, then add garlic and ginger and cook until lightly golden. Add cherries and cook gently. Deglaze pan with red wine and reduce until cherries are tender. Finish with vinegar, sugar, tarragon, salt, and pepper.

2.) To grill the salmon, preheat a backyard barbecue and rub the grilling surface with olive oil. Season the salmon fillets lightly with salt and pepper. Grill skin-side-up for five minutes, or until dark lines form on the flesh, then turn the salmon and grill until the fish is just cooked through, about 4 minutes more. Serve the salmon with the chutney and garnish with tarragon sprigs.

Northwest Cherry Almond Tart 
Scandinavian baking traditions influence Pacific Northwest cooking in dishes like this one. Old-fashioned Danish and Norwegian tarts include a simple light custard mixture that serves as a subtle springboard for the bright flavor of summer fruits like Northwest Cherries.

For the Pastry:
(Makes 1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cold, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 egg yolk

For the Filling:
6 cups pitted cherries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup whole almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.) Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the egg yolk and process, pulsing on and off, until the dough comes together to form a crumbly ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a 10-inch circle. Transfer to a 2-part 9-inch tart pan and fill.

2.) To make the filling, toss the cherries with lemon juice, then pile them into the pastry-lined tart pan, and set aside. In a food processor, combine the almonds, sugar, and cinnamon. Process until the almonds are finely ground. With the motor running, add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, and process until smooth. With a rubber spatula, spread the almond mixture over the
cherries. 

3.) Bake until the tart is browned and beginning to crack on the surface, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then remove from the pan.

How To Individually Quick Freeze Cherries

The secret to perfect frozen cherries is to pit them and allow them to freeze solid without touching one another. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Snap the stem off each cherry and use a cherry pitter or an olive stoner to remove the pit, then place each pitted cherry on the parchment-lined sheet pan. Don’t let the cherries touch. Freeze the cherries on the baking sheet for several hours, or until they are frozen through, then transfer the frozen berries to self-sealing food storage bags or small airtight containers and seal before returning to the freezer. Use the frozen cherries to make sorbet, puree them in smoothies or use them to garnish cocktails. They are also quite good individually dipped in melted dark chocolate which hardens almost instantly on the frozen fruit.