Something old, something new.
9 July, 2007, 10:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


A perk of each day for me is checking the mail, hoping that when I turn the key to my small box that it will contain a new issue of Gourmet, Food Arts, Food and Wine, Saveur, etc. Even though they may all come within days of one another, each with a hard focus on what’s in season, there is usually very little overlap.

However, this month proved to be different. Through Gourmet magazine, the online newsletter that Ruth Reichl sends out each week and Food and Wine, there was hot talk of sour cherries, and for good reason. These ornaments of summer are only in season for a mere six weeks of the year, so utilization and preservation is critical.

My journey started with the simple and seductive cherry pie on the cover of my beloved Gourmet, followed by sour cherry syrup called sharbat-e albalu for a drink in Iran in the New York Ties. It came to an end with a firm decision to bake when I came across the last page of Food and Wine this month: Sour Cherry Turnovers.

Confession: I am a sucker for all things new. In this case I was going to be able to use a new ingredient: sour cherries, and a new recipe altogether that I had never given a moment’s consideration: the turnover.

My focus this summer has been on canning, desperate to preserve the flavors of warm fruits fresh off their vines and limbs. The thought of (almost) instant gratification nearly escaped me.

I found this preparation to be quite timely; in fact I didn’t even start until late Sunday evening when most people are laying their head down. I, on the other hand decided to satisfy my weeklong urge to bake. Fresh sour cherries are not that easy to find, so if you get into a fix, utilize frozen ones, sans sugar or other very tart cherries.

I used organic Rainer cherries, whose flavor is much more tart than Washington reds, but still not as sour as the recommended ones. In turn, I reduced the sugar by a tablespoon. Taste your cherries and decided what is sweet to you. For the puff pastry I used pre-made frozen, 1.1 lbs, when the recipe calls for 1.25 lbs. I still cut it into 5” squares, but it only yielded 8 turnovers.

I finished baking these around 1 a.m. and J was anxiously awaiting their departure from the oven. Knowing that he had burned himself one too many times before because he doesn’t like to wait, he yielded to his better judgment. The results: Very chewy, and not too sweet of a filling. The lemon “curd” pairs very nicely with the cherries, but I think that next time I may cut the lemon zest in half, as I thought it wasn’t exactly mellow as intended.

In the end, I found that this a great base recipe, especially when you don’t want to bake a whole pie or want the same flavors with easier transport. I can’t wait to make strawberry turnovers, or blueberry, or apple!


Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine at

Yields 12 turnovers
**This recipe yielded 8 for me because of the difference in weight of the puff pastry that I used


2 cups pitted sour cherries (10 ounces), fresh or thawed frozen (I used organic rainer cherries)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I also used vanilla bean seeds from one bean for a more pronounced flavor; you can then put the split bean in sugar to scent)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/4 pounds all-butter puff pastry
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Pearl sugar or granulated sugar, for sprinkling (Vanilla or cinnamon scented sugar would work especially well here too)


Preheat the oven to 350°. In an 8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish, mix the cherries with the cornstarch, granulated sugar, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon of the vanilla and a pinch of salt. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the juices are thickened and bubbling. Drain the cherries, reserving the juices for another use. Chill the cherries.

In a medium bowl, whisk the butter with the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Whisk in the egg, then whisk in the 2 tablespoons of flour, the remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla; whisk in a pinch of salt. Chill until firm.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 15-by-20-inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut the puff pastry into twelve 5-inch squares and transfer them to a plate. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Arrange 3 pastry squares at a time on a work surface, keeping the rest chilled. Brush 2 adjoining edges of each square with the egg wash. Dollop a tablespoon of the lemon filling in the center of each square and top with 7 cherries. Fold the pastry over the filling to form a triangle, pressing out the air as you go. Press the edges firmly and crimp with a fork. Transfer the turnovers to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pastry, lemon filling and sour cherries. Refrigerate the turnovers for about 15 minutes, or until firm.
Heat the oven to 400°. Using a sharp knife, trim the edges of the turnovers slightly. Brush the top of each turnover with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Cut 2 or 3 small slashes in the tops to allow steam to escape. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the pastry is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling out of the vents.

** I found that mine were ready at around 30 minutes so keep a close eye on them.

These can be made-ahead and stored at room temperature.