RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Dried Tart Cherries

Dried Tart Cherry Shortbread Cookies

I have not made cookies in a long time… T has a major problem when it come to managing his intake count of cookies eaten… and of course it is my fault.  So to curb his consumption it was easiest for me to just not make cookies!   We both joke and laugh about his uncontrollable ‘need to eat’ when it comes to cookies!

It is nice to have some simple cookies to have once in a while when having a cup of tea or just for a quick sweet treat.  So today… I decided to cross the line and make some quick and easy shortbread cookies and hope that T could curb himself some and not sit down and eat the whole lot in one sitting.  I guess I could take it as a complement that he likes my cookies so much to have no restraint!

This recipe makes about a dozen cookies give or take a few… I have found it is best to make cookies in small batches for T’s sake!


  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, sliced and cold
  • 1∕8  cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • ¼- ½  cup dried tart cherries


Line baking sheet  with parchment paper.  When you are ready to bake they will bake in a 325˚ oven.  But you will need to chill for a few after you have made the cookies before you bake.

Combine sugar and orange zest in a small bowl and rub the  zest into the sugar with you fingers.  Using a food processor, mix all ingredients (except for dried tart cherries) for about 20 seconds.  Add the cherries and pulse a few times until they are chopped up a little, I like to have a few nice size pieces of tart cherries  left in dough.

Turn out the mixture onto the counter and compact into a ball (you will need to knead the dough a bit… do not give up it will come to a nice smooth dough ball!)  On a lightly floured surface roll dough to about 1∕2 inch thickness.  Using cooking cutter cut out cookies (you can just cut them into easy squares at this point!)  After cutting the cookies gather left over dough and roll and cut again til you have used up all the dough.

Place the cookies on the prepared cooking sheets as you go.  Once I have them all on the cookie sheets I place in refrigerator and chill good.  When ready to bake preheat the oven to 325˚.  Bake until light golden-brown, about twenty to twenty-five minutes.  Keep a watch on them the last five minutes or so.  Let them cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to cookie rack to finish cooling.

Combine ½ cup of powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon orange juice…  after they have completely cooled I glaze them with the simple powder sugar glaze and let them dry good (before I hide half from T.)  No I do not hide half from  T but probably should….

The combination of orange zest and dried tart cherries wakens up the taste buds and makes for a delightful cookie!

Stuffed Pork Chops

T loves pork; I think most men love pork, maybe everyone loves pork… I am not a big pork eater.  As a child I would not even touch the stuff… I thought it was pure fat!

Anyway…  I decided to make stuff pork chops for a belated Valentine’s Day dinner.  They went over well, I even enjoyed mine.  They were very easy to make I always keep a pint of homemade seasoned croutons in the pantry alongside a pint of toasted seasoned breadcrumbs, and one pint of crushed cracker crumbs.  When I need to make any one of the three I always make a few extra so I have them the next time a recipe could call for them.  It makes it (life) so much easier.

I had some pork broth in the freezer that I thawed and added:

  • Around 3∕4 cup of pork broth, you could use chicken broth
  • 1∕8 cup of diced onion
  • 1∕8 cup of diced celery
  • One clove of diced garlic
  • Some fresh Parsley that I chopped up
  • 1 Cremini Mushroom diced up
  • About 1∕8 cup of dried tart cherries, save until the last-minute to add to the simmering pot

I put everything into a little sauce pan except the parsley and cherries.  I simmered this until the onions and celery were just soft. This too will reduce some giving the broth more flavor.  I added the dried tart cherries and parsley just a few minutes before I needed to put this broth mix in with the bread mix.

While that was simmering I put some of the seasoned baked croutons in a Ziploc bag and rolled a roller pin over a few times (when I make my seasoned croutons I make them about an inch in size.)  I wanted them broken up in smaller pieces.  Add about half that amount in seasoned toasted bread crumbs and add in 1 Tablespoon of cornmeal.   Then add about ½ teaspoon of sage, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  If you have a favorite bread stuffing than by all means use it!

Then spoon all the onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms, parsley, and cherries out of the broth and stir them into the bread mixture.  Add just a bit of broth at a time into the mix, you do not want to get the stuffing too moist or soggy!  Let it cool down before adding one egg and mix it in.  Once it is thoroughly mixed leave it to dry out a bit.  Now it is time to stuff the pork chops.

 I had the butcher cut a pocket in each of the pork chops for me.  It makes it that much easier.  Once you have the stuffing ready, rested, patted, and loved stuff each pork chop as full as you can get it, using your hands.  (This is where I normally loosely stitch close the hole with some regular dental floss… as you can see by the photos I forgot until they had been in the oven about 30 minutes, too late!)  When finished wash your hands and then seasoned both sides of the chop with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to keep hands clean I use tongs to flip the pork chop over to get all sides seasoned.  Then wrap them up individually in aluminum foil and close it tight, place each in a baking pan and bake for about an hour at 350˚.   The timing could be different depending on the size and thickness of the chops.

I had a little stuffing left over so I used one of my small baking dishes and added a couple of tablespoon of broth on top of the stuffing put a cover on it and baked in  the oven while baking the stuffed pork chops.  When I was checking on them I could really smell the tart cherries cooking in the mix.  It all smelled so succulent and luscious.

While they were baking I made a cream sauce:

  • 1 Cup of pork broth or you can use chicken broth
  • 1 Cremini Mushroom sliced in half and then sliced into thin slices
  • About the same in diced onions that you have in the sliced mushrooms
  • One clove garlic diced up small
  • Some chopped Parsley

Put all in a saucepan and simmer until it has reduced by half.  When it is done while it is still at a low boil I whisked in 1 teaspoon of butter and then a couple of quick splashes of heavy cream.  I added just a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and let it simmer to thicken stirring every once in a while.  Sometimes when I want a nice cream soup I make this sauce as a soup… it is delicious!

I forgot we had roasted brussel sprouts on the side; they were a perfect side dish to the stuffed pork chops.

When you have baked the chops there will be some wonderful juice in each packet, I add it to my cream mushroom sauce!  Once I had the chops out of the foil I put them back in the baking dish and put them under the boiler for just a few minutes to lightly brown them.

The stuffed pork chops came out pleasing to the eye.  The dried tart cherries were a very nice complement to the dish.  The chops were moist and delicious and the broth cream sauce put it over the top, T loved them, which was all I needed to know….

Look what we found today on our walk… out front… spring is giving us a peek!

Rye Toasting Bread with Cherries, Apricots and Sunflower Seeds


A while back, before the cherry season… I’m bad just getting this posted…  I was “Goggling” for a rye bread recipe.  I wanted one that had an added zest to it, some added character so to speak.  I wanted something that would be a little different than the usual morning toast.  I found it!

What a surprise when I came across this recipe.  I knew immediately that this was the recipe I was looking for and I would make it this afternoon.  The recipe called for Pumpkin Seeds of which I had none so I substituted with Sunflower Seeds which to me were perfect.  It called just for the dried cherries and I used tart dried cherries and added some dried apricots to the mix.

Many (light years) years ago you could not get me to even try fruit bread.  I thought it was one of the most disgusting things one could eat.  Besides, with all the wonderful cakes out there why would anyone want to make a cake with dried fruits?  (although I did love Pineapple Upside Down Cake.) Time can sure change one’s mind and transform the taste buds, I am thankful for that.   I would have missed out on a lot of wonderful foods that I now savor to the fullest.

I remember when I was just 19 years old I had went to a family reunion and as you entered into the auditorium they gave a ticket to each person announcing there was going to be a drawing later in the evening.   This being a Christmas family reunion I wondered what the door prize would be.

A couple of hours later the numbers were read off and I was holding the winning ticket.  As I approached the podium to collect my prize I watched in horror as they took a giant tin out of a bag and the next thing I knew they were handing it to me.   I felt like I was in a dream and going in slow motion.  I remember telling myself just keep smiling and be sure to thank them for the prize.

As I took hold of this tin, it seemed very heavy and this is no untruth it was at least a foot in diameter and six plus inches high, it was a huge tin, bigger than any tin I had (or have seen to date) seen… and in it… a colossal sized fruitcake.   What in the world was I suppose to do with this, if I had just kind of left it on a table everyone would know who it belonged to.  I too figured that someone would no doubt let me know I had forgotten the fruitcake and hand it over to m e as I was leaving.  So I just kept smiling and thanking them for the wonderful (what my mind was thinking…  was what a strange, abnormal, bizarre) prize (to me at the time.)

What did I do with this fruitcake, it was heavy enough to use  as a doorstop, but several folks talked about how much they loved fruitcake and hoped I would share a slice of it with them and I decided to give it to them so they could enjoy as much of it as they wanted.  You would have thought I handed them a million dollars.

They did what I should have thought to do, had I not been in shock maybe it would have come to mind.  They asked for a platter and knife and fed it to those in the crowd that wanted some fruitcake.  I was surprised I think I was the only one there that did not want a slice.  (I made an excuse that I was full, I had eaten too much earlier!)  I noticed it fed everyone who wanted and desired the fruit bread and then some (I said it was huge!) There was not a crumb left by end of evening.

My, my, my how things have changed with time, I too remember I did not like the taste of rye bread back then either.  You’ve come a long way girl.….

Serve sliced very thin and toasted.  I made a special butter compound: Whipped Molasses Butter.

Whipped Molasses Butter


  • ½ cup butter
  • 1∕8  cup molasses

Put butter in mixer bowl and whip until airy, a few minutes. You may want to start off adding a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time of the molasses.  It gets really rich quick with too much added.  Once you have added the amount of molasses whip an additional few minutes, it will lighten some in color and looked very whipped.  Put in bowl and then refrigerator until ready to use.

We will be having this Rye Bread toasted with the whipped molasses butter, baked eggs and homemade sage sausage patties.  Cannot wait to give it a try, to me a good mix with sausage is maple syrup so I think pairing molasses with fruit and the sage sausage you cannot go wrong. We’ll see….

The bread was delicious, totally different from any rye bread I had ever had.  The closest thing to it ~ I love toasted rye or pumpernickel with a little dollop of cream cheese and with a small teaspoon of my favorite blackberry jam.  This has been a favorite of mine since forever.

Now after having had this fruited rye bread I am going to make it equal in taste and as enchanting and enjoyable to the taste buds as my old favorite.  I will relish them both on occasion.  It is nice to have alternatives for breakfast, this surpasses the Bagel with Cream Cheese and the English Muffin with cherry or strawberry preserves’ all of which are good standbys, but I will reserve the scone with butter and raspberry preserves to my chosen list of favorites.  Come to think of it there is nothing usual about any one of my favorites.  Each and all are not only sumptuous but are healthy too.

I agree with Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan at the kitchen  that this bread is better toasted.  It lasted all of a few days here.  But we did have it with an afternoon tea too!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I too love starting my day with not only flavors that are far from normal, but I love to savor my first meal of the day with a cup of hot tea and with a combination of this Rye Cherry Toast and a hot cup tea it is heaven.

The recipe and directions can be found at Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan website.  You can make it as she has done or like me and make any substitutes you can dream up.  I am sure each would be as delicious as the other….

For breakfast the next morning we had toasted rye-cherry bread and had some with our baked eggs and homeblend sage sausage… what a nice mix, I will be posting soon, if you would like it beforehand let me know ….

Best Brioche Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

A while back I made some Orange Marmalade and some Brioche Bread and Brioche cups to go with.  I had mentioned that I would love to have some bread pudding made from any leftover Brioche Bread, as I wrote that I had figured there probably would not be a crumb left, but was surprised to find I had enough left for the bread pudding after all.

Then I begin my search for a good Brioche Bread Pudding recipe and found one.  I have a recipe that I have used but wanted to step it up a bit.  It did not take me long with Google to find a recipe that sounded good, actually it sounded spectacular to say the least.

Jun at JunBlog had a very descriptive narration on this Brioche Bread Pudding that sold me.  The recipe she got from Tartine’s.  There are some wonderful pictures of how the pudding was made and the use of fresh fruit topping on the finished dish.  It sure looked good.   So I was game to try it myself.   Boy am I glad that I did, spectacular was putting it mildly.  It far exceeded anything I could have dreamt of.   It was so delicious, stunning, and was so impressive to say the least.  I will be making this again and again.

Thank you Jun, this is one of the best recipe finds I have found in a while.  I cannot say enough good about this dish.  The pictures do not do it justice.  It just melts in your mouth.  It did not last long in my house that is for sure.    I will be bragging about this bread pudding forever, I have already given the recipe out countless times.

I hope you take the time to make some; there are not enough words to give this extraordinary bread pudding all that it deserves.   The only changes I made were to add dried tart cherries, dried cranberries (both from Nuts Online), raisins and some pecans.  I used some Egg Beaters for half of the eggs and it tasted just like I had used all fresh eggs.

For the Brioche Bread Pudding, makes 10 ~ 12 servings:

  • 6 Brioche slices, cut 1-inch thick – I used my leftover 4 Brioche Cups and a few slice of Brioche Bread
  • 8 Large Eggs – I used 4 eggs and ¼ cup Egg Beaters for each of the four eggs I was not using 1 Cup Total for the Egg Beaters
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1 ½  Tsp Vanilla
  • ½  Tsp Salt
  • + ½ Cup  dried tart cherries
  • + ½ Cup Dried Cranberries
  • + ½ Cup Raisins
  • + ¼ Cup Pecans
  • + Small Dash of Fresh Ground Nutmeg

For the Caramel Sauce, makes 1-1/2 cups:

2/3   Cup Heavy Cream
¼  of One Vanilla Bean
1 ¼ Cup Sugar
¼  Cup Water
¼  Tsp Salt
2  Tbsp Light Corn Syrup
3/4 Tsp Lemon Juice
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

Making the Brioche Bread Pudding:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I buttered my 12.5 x 3.5 x 2.5 dish.   I arranged the brioche slices on a baking sheet. I cut the tops off of the brioche cups and put on baking sheet too (tops down to toast the cut sides of the brioche cups.)  Place in the oven until lightly toasted. I removed from the oven and set aside to cool.

I whisked the 4 eggs and added the cup of egg beaters and whisk to blend.  Add the sugar and whisk until smooth.  Add the milk, vanilla and salt then whisk until completely blended.  Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve.

I placed the toasted brioche slices in my baking dish, cutting them so they would fit as needed (it was like putting together a puzzle,) as I layered the bread and I put a mix of the dried fruit and nuts scattering them about the dish for an even distribution.  I used the four tops of the Brioche cups for the top layer and filled in around them with bread pieces.   I poured the custard evenly over the bread and fruits to the top.  I waited the 10 minutes or so until the bread had soaked up the custard and kept adding until I had used all of the custard.  The bread will absorb all the custard.  Once all the custard was absorbed I added some dried fruit in a pattern on top.   I put a little ~ very little dash of fresh ground nutmeg on top once everything was in place.  You do not want to add too much nutmeg; it is very over-riding if you do.

I covered the dish with aluminum foil and placed in oven and baked the bread pudding for about an hour.  The custard will be still a little moist when done, I used a long pick and stuck it in the middle and when it came out clean it was done.  The custard will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven and it will set up as it cools.

Let the bread pudding cool for about 20 minutes before serving.  I sliced it and used a spatula to remove the slices from my baking dish.  You can just serve it with a serving spoon if you want do whichever way you like.

Once I had the slices on the dessert plates I then drizzled the caramel sauce over the top of each piece.  You can add fresh fruit or even put a dollop of whip cream when you serve.

If you have left over bread pudding, the cookbook suggests chilling it, slicing it, and frying it as you would French toast.  I did not get to try that this time; there were no left-overs.  However, I will be making this bread pudding again and maybe next time I will get to make the French-Toast with any of the left-overs.


To make the Caramel Sauce:

These are the directions Jun gave and they worked so why mess with a good thing:

Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the pod halves into the cream. Place over medium-high heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low to keep the cream warm.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt and corn syrup. Use a good-sized pan because the caramel will boil vigorously and the volume will increase dramatically as soon as the hot cream is added. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then let the mixture boil, without stirring, until the mixture is amber colored. Watch the sugar mixture carefully as it cooks to avoid burning the sugar. From the time the mixture started to boil, it took over 15 minutes to reach an amber color. Remove from the heat.

The mixture will continue to cook off the heat and become darker, so make sure to have the cream close by. Carefully and slowly add the cream to the sugar syrup. The mixture will boil vigorously at first. Let the mixture simmer down, and then whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

Cut the butter into 1-inch chunks and add them to the caramel one at a time, whisking constantly after each addition. Then whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool.

Pour the caramel sauce in an airtight container such as a glass jar and store in the refrigerator. This will keep for up to a month.

This caramel is good heated and put on ice cream, the other day I used it to make some Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nuts Tarts.  Recipe will be posted soon.  They were delicious too.   I still have left-over caramel sauce and it will be completely used by the date needed.  I put the date on the top of the jar that I stored it in so will know to the day precisely….

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