June 21, 2020
We like to think that Kensington has become¬†almost¬†as famous as Japan¬†for its cherry¬†blossom walks.
Even though travelling abroad may not have been part of your¬†itinerary this Spring,
you may still have been able to experience blossoming cherry¬†trees earlier this year,
as they were to be found in profusion lining London streets, in¬†garden squares and parks.
The fruits themselves, tinged with red, yellow, pink and¬†orange,
grow well in southern England and we buy ours any time from late June¬†onwards.
Served sweet, having been poached gently in a little wine, citrus juices and peel, sugar,
vanilla¬†and cinnamon, they can be delicious served simply with cr√®me¬†fraiche or ice cream.
At the restaurant we like to serve them whole, stalk and stone and all –
as a pretty decoration for our Black Forest Gateau ‚ÄúClarke‚Äôs style‚ÄĚ¬†–
(rich dark chocolate cake layered with lightly whipped Kirsch cream and crushed cherries).
Cherries may also be successfully bottled either as a more-ish jam or even pickled
with vinegar, sugar and spices. (Note to myself – soon we will be making this in our
Production Kitchen – in readiness for the Clarke‚Äôs Christmas range of treats….)
Northern France is also well know for its successful cherry harvests,
their famous cherry dessert being clafoutis, which is in essence,
1/3 custard, 1/3 cake, and 1/3 pudding – and is deliciousness personified.
Almost as ‚Äėclassic‚Äô as canard a l‚Äôorange, it could be argued
that roasted duck with cherries takes an equally starred billing:
Roast a lovely free range duck with generous amounts of sea salt and pepper,
its cavity having been filled with an orange cut into 6 and a few sprigs of rosemary or
thyme. Over a bed of chopped onion, celery and fennel, it should be roasted
in a preheated oven at 180oC for up to 1 hour 45 minutes,
or until the thigh juices run clear when pierced with a small knife.
Once the duck has turned golden brown all over,
remove it to a warm platter¬†and cover tightly to ‚Äėrest‚Äô while the sauce is made.
First, drain the fat from the roasting pan and save for (the best) roasted potatoes at a later date.
Place the pan of roasted vegetables on the stove top and heat gently,¬†adding a teaspoon of flour,
a splash of red wine, a little orange juice, a cup or 2 of stock, salt¬†and pepper.
Stir continuously while the sauce thickens. Add a little red currant jelly if
it needs ‚Äėsweetening‚Äô, then strain into a small pan and discard the vegetables.
In another small pan place 3 or 4 whole cherries (including stalk) per person
with half¬†a glass of red wine, the same amount of orange juice and a little sugar.
Add a sprig of¬†rosemary or thyme, cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer gently
for 5-6 minutes¬†or until the cherries are beautifully soft.
Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon and leave on one side.
¬†¬†Pour the duck sauce into the cherry juices,¬†bring to the boil and taste for seasoning.
¬†Serve slices of roasted duck garnished with the pretty cherries,
watercress leaves and the sauce on the side.
Of course if time is on the short side – the best way to enjoy cherries is simply rinsed in cold water,
drained and piled into a beautiful bowl.¬† Served with soft goat cheese perhaps at the end of a meal,
what could be better in this lovely sunshine?
The good news is that the Corner Shop extension to our existing shop
will be opening in 2-3 weeks,¬†and we cannot wait to share it with you!
The sad news is that we have decided to wait until September to re open the Restaurant doors.
However, as we are confident that our beautiful dining rooms and¬†the excellence
of the menu and wine list will be worth the wait, reservations are now being accepted.