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Cool Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup
I had kinda put this one off for a while, thinking it was going to be offputtingly odd. Not at all--in fact, it was downright fresh and appealing--and had me sneaking into the fridge for secret spoonsful. Traditionally it's served as an appetizer--and for good reason. The tart-sweet-heady combination is just like an aperitif. But I think it would be a wonderful minimalist dessert as well after a rich meal. I'm citing two versions here--one richly authentic with Hungarian red wine (if you can get it); one not as subtle, but ridiculously easy and fast to make. Serve cool to cold to 4-6 people in small portions. But they may ask for another round....
SOUP #1--NUANCED AND TRADITIONAL
Garnish: sweet cream
Bring the water to boil in a saucepan and stir in cherries, then reduce heat. Wrap the cherry pits in cheesecloth, pound them a couple times to break the stones, put the cloves and cinnamon stick into the cheesecloth too, then tie up and add to the pot. Stir in the wine, lemon juice sugar, and salt. Cook for 10 minutes. Dip out half the cherries and reserve, then puree the rest of the soup. Return the reserved cherries to the soup and bring the soup to a simmer. Mix the egg yolk into the cream and whisk into the soup, stirring til it thickens. Don't reboil! Let the soup cool, then remove the spice bag and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and splash each portion with cream.
SOUP #2--THE EASY COP-OUT
Garnish: Just a spritz of sugar on top.
Whisk the cherry juice, sour cream, sugar, and wine in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cherries. Chill for 3-4 hours.
When ready to serve, ladle into small bowls and just flick a little superfine sugar over each one. Serve immediately with silver spoons.