28 June 2009

A cherry cordial and some hummus

When Susan and Simon came to visit last Tuesday, they brought us several nice presents: a little cherry cake, some plants, some saffron (crocus) bulbs, and a little bottle of home-made cherry "cordial."

We enjoyed some of the cherry cordial in white or rosé wine this weekend to make a non-traditional Kir (pronounced [keer]), that ubiquitous French apéritif drink. Kirs are usually made with white wine and black-currant liqueur (crème de cassis), but can also be made with other wines (red or rosé, still or sparkling) and with other liqueurs (peach, raspberry, and so on).

Cherry cordial made with home-grown cherries from Preuilly

One thing we don't know is how Susan and Simon made the cherry cordial. I've looked through their blog and see it mentioned, but without a description of the process. Of course, cherry season is nearly over, but the cordial is something we might want to make next year or even this year with other fruit. I'm thinking we are going to have a big crop of plums...

Cherry Kirs made with white wine from La Gourmandière
near the Château de Chenonceau

That's the drink part. The food part is hummus. One of the ingredients in a traditional couscous is chickpeas, and I cooked a whole kilo of them last week because we had a kilo bag of dried chickpeas in the cellar. We have enjoyed them with the couscous, and as an ingredient in what I call "couscous soup" made from the leftovers.

Making tahini and hummus

But there were a lot of chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) left at the end of the week. Walt decided to make hummus out of them. Hummus is a Middle-Eastern dip or spread made from pureed chickpeas with herbs, spices, and some tahini paste.


The first thing Walt had to do was make the tahini, which is toasted sesame seeds pureed in a little oil and water. That makes a kind of nut butter. You add the tahini paste to the pureed chickpeas to make hummus. Recipes and proportions are all over the map; you just need to search for hummus on the Internet to get a lot of ideas.

How our garden grows! Great year so far, with hot weather
predicted for the rest of this week. Many tomatoes on the way.

The other good ingredient we had for hummus was a nice bunch of fresh basil that J-L and S. gave us. Garlic, green onions, a little hazelnut oil, a pinch of cayenne — hummus is a nice spread to put on toasted slices of country-style bread (pain de campagne) and enjoy with those glasses of cherry Kir on a hot afternoon.


  1. You and Walt are masters of the pantry. I always go looking in the dark corner of the fridge for the tahini rather than thinking I could whip up a small fresh batch on my own.

  2. Hi Keir, I'm not sure where we would find tahini around Saint-Aignan. Maybe at the Paris Store in Blois. But we do have a good supply of sesame seeds in the cellar. I think we bought sesame seeds by the kilo at Tang Frères in Paris a few years ago, and they are still good.

  3. Your cellar and freezer must be magical. They seem to contain a supply of goodies that puts Trader Joe to shame.

  4. Wow, hats off to Susan and Simon on making the cherry cordial! Looks great with the white wine... and it sounds so wonderful to say that your wine comes from "near the château of Chenonceau"... especially knowing that you probably drove there and bought it yourself!

    I know a guy who makes his hummus somehow using peanut butter... maybe instead of the tahini? It's good, though!


  5. Hi Judy, the tahini paste is a little like peanut butter in taste and texture, so I can see how your friend's hummus would be good, for sure.

    Bill, magical, I'm not sure. We used to go to Paris often and buy products (mostly Asian) that we can't find around Saint-Aignan. And then I buy meats when they are on special and put them in the freezer, and we certainly freeze a lot of produce from our garden.

    We put 10 pints of collard greens in the freezer this morning, some cooked with ham and others with duck fat only. They will be good this winter, with pork or poultry sausages from the markets in Noyers and Saint-Aignan.

  6. Your garden looks wonderful! I envy you the ability to go out and pick dinner - a very winter garden here. I enjoyed reading about your collard greens. I know of nothing similar here. Leafy greens here are spinach, silverbeet (chard?)or any number of Asian greens, but a long, slow cooking leafy green I haven't seen. Would love to taste it.
    I also would not think to make my own tahini. I make hummus a fair bit and always use the commercial jars. What are the proportions to make it? Might just have a go.

  7. la recette que j'ai ne me satisfait pas ,je suis très preneuse !! merci par avance
    un bon recette j'ais déjà traité un site comme ca



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