A Food Epiphany or TwoPosted: June 4, 2012
Today I’m using the word epiphany in its secular meaning – the sudden realization of the essence or meaning of something. By it’s very definition an epiphany should only happen to an individual once a lifetime so I’m really stretching the point to say I have had several of them. Perhaps a more accurate statement is to say I’m writing about a sudden appreciation of something but I really like the sound of “epiphany” so that’s the word I’m going to use.
Cherries Jubilee were a true food epiphany. I can tell you the first time I tasted those gifts from above. I was a young teenager and went with my mother to a cooking demonstration at the Mayo Auditorium in Winter Haven, Florida. The cook gave samples of all the food to everyone in the audience but the only thing I can remember was Cherries Jubilee. OMG! The desserts my mother prepared never tasted like this. You can tell it was an important moment in my life by the fact I know the name of the building I was in: if I thought long and hard I could probably tell you exactly where I was sitting.
Once our oldest daughter tasted lobster she craved it. Lobster is an expensive dish for a child to love, but then I discovered she actually craved the melted butter. Another epiphany – melting butter and pouring over toast was cheaper than lobster.
Potatoes – a non-epiphany
Although I love potatoes and have enjoyed them every way, except raw, I can’t think of any life changing potato dishes I have made or been served.
Then there’s Moo Shu. It was love at first bite, the room was spinning sort of love. At one point in my life I would have crawled across the burning sands of a desert for Moo Shu. It annoyed my husband that I didn’t order it every time we went to a Chinese restaurant but I didn’t want to eat it so often that it dimmed the sheer pleasure and became common everyday food.
Back to the Beginning
Circling back to my first food epiphany. Years ago I actually served Cherries Jubilee at a dinner party. The recipe below is not the one I used but I agree with the footnote in this recipe I found at AllRecipes.com. From personal experience I can tell you that tipping the pan and spreading blue flames across your entire kitchen counter can put a damper to the end of an otherwise great evening.
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 pound Bing or other dark, sweet cherries, rinsed and pitted (or use frozen pitted cherries)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon cherry extract
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 3 cups vanilla ice cream
- Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a wide saucepan. Stir in the water and orange juice; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking until thickened. Stir in the cherries and orange zest, return to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. While the cherries are cooking, spoon the ice cream into serving bowls.
- Remove the cherries from the heat, and stir in the cherry extract. Pour in the brandy, and ignite with a long lighter. Gently shake the pan until the blue flame has extinguished itself. Spoon the cherries over the bowls of ice cream.
- The flames may get quite high when flambéing, so pay attention to anything flammable above and around where you ignite the cherries. When the initial large flame has died down, a small blue flame will continue to burn for several seconds. Shake or stir the cherries gently to expose more alcohol to the flame, being careful that they do not burn. The goal is to have the small, blue flame burn for as long as possible, thereby reducing the raw alcohol flavor, caramelizing the sugars, and entertaining your guests.
Have you had a food epiphany? Let me know in the comments section – recipes are welcome. If you’re a visitor to FoodThoughts and would like to receive an email notice when a new blog is posted click on the Follow button to the right.