Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Scotney Castle and Cherry Coupe with Cherry Rose Cookies

My monthly cooking club Creative Crew’s challenge this month was to make a one-color dish.  This being the beginning of summer, it got me thinking of cherries.  I discovered when I first wrote about cherries (HEREthat Kent was the epicenter of English cherry growers and has been since Henry VIII’s time when he took to having them grown in Teynam in Kent after being wowed by them during a visit to Flanders –– when a king falls for cherries he gets cherries.  Cherries were not new to the British Isles since legend has it that Roman legions dropped sour cherry pits (a product of Persia) as they tromped through Britain and so they had been growing nearly wild there for a millennia. A Kentish Red was the first cherry planted by Massachusetts’ colonists.

Photo by Chris Theater (can be purchased HERE)

I decided at the last minute to go over to England next week and travel for a week after going to the Oxford Food Symposium. Such a conundrum –– there are so many places I’d love to see and so little time –– some are just a bit too far afield for a tight schedule. How to decide? Cherries got me to thinking about great places in Kent and noodling around in my handy National Trust Guide I discovered Scotney Old Castle in the cherry capitol of Kent –– it’s a fairytale looking place with a magnificent garden.  I thought if anything would get me in the mood to create a red cherry dish, this would be the place.

How about a little history of the place? The oldest part of the estate is the adorable squat tower built in the 14th century by Roger de Ashburnham on land owned by Lambert de Scoteni (hence Scotney Castle).  Scotney came into the Darrell family in 1418 through marriage.  They tore down all of the original buildings save the tower and built a house around it in the 16th and 17th centuries. Most of that addition was in ruins and torn down during the building of the new castle in the 19th century.

NYPL-John Miller

The Darrells owned the house for 350 years and then sold it to the Hussey family in 1778 –– they have lived there ever since.  

The old buildings that remain are a charming visual element –– sort of an antique folly for the estate's extensive gardens.  They built the new castle on the hill in 1837 according to an 1878 article by Edward Hussey.  

Anthony Salvin 1799-1881

It was designed by Anthony Salvin who was famous for restoring or working around ancient buildings (like Alnwick Castle).  He was incredibly prolific and worked until he was 90 (he restored 20 churches and 3 cathedrals and built 34 new churches as well as working on private commissions for new places like Scotney)!

He also designed furniture like this 1835 desk for Mamhead House

The new castle is full of Victorian wonders and rooms with winning charms –– love the peachy chairs, the Greek Key desk and that graphic b&w tile surround for the fireplace.

NTPL - Andreas von Einsiedel

NYPL - John Miller
The kitschy kitchen is especially endearing and perfect for helping with inspiration for a delicious cherry dish.

I have wanted to make this cherry pie from Robert May’s Accomplisht Cook for a very long time ––  it wasn’t so much the pie I wanted to make as the filling.  That’s a good thing too because a brown piecrust would be trouble in an all-red world (sadly it wasn't as red as I had hoped, the pink cookies took a brown cast in the oven!).

What appealed about the recipe was the muscadine syrup.  Muscadine is a New World grape.  It would have been a fairly fancy ingredient since the grape had only been discovered by Walter Raleigh and his intrepid band of New World explorers barely 70 years before May was using its syrup (they tried to cultivate the warm-weather grapes in England but were not successful so I imagine the syrup would have been a New World product).  The explorers were terribly impressed with the muscadine grape variety.  

The “Mother Vine” on Roanoake Island, dating from at least the 18th century

Raleigh’s explorers, Captains Amadas and Barlowe wrote in 1584 that North Carolina was “so full of grapes as the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them … in all the world, the like abundance is not to be found.”  In 1585, North Carolina Governor Ralph Lane said “We have discovered the main to be the goodliest soil under the cope of heaven, so abounding with  …  grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater… (so said an article at Auman Vineyards). 

I imagine with rave reviews like this, a masterchef like May would have jumped at the chance to add the exotic flavor to his Kentish cherry pie.

No pie?  Well, I thought a coupe would do nicely for an elegant treat of pure cherry goodness using the flavorings in May's cherry recipe.  Then I thought a cherry cookie would do well but when I looked for a recipe I came up short.  All I saw were cookies with chunks of dry cherry or cherry extract or maraschino –– not for me.

So, I made up real sour cherry cookies that are divine with my compote and if not red, at least there's the barest hint of pink.

Enjoy the combination and the yummy muscadine cherries.  Although the syrup is available online it was full of corn syrup (blech!) I did get a sense of the flavor.  Were I to do it again I would probably make my own with muscadine juice (available at healthfood stores) or make it in the fall with the grapes when they are in the markets –– it's easy to do and people rave about grape syrup as a sweetener for fruit pies like apple. By the way,  muscadine grapes and juice are considered a super food screamingly full of vitamins, antioxidants and that lovely resveratrol that keeps you young.

Cherry Coupe based on Robert May's Recipe

4 c pitted cherries
1/2 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/4 c muscadine grape syrup*
1-2 drops Aftelier Rose Essence or 1-2 t rosewater to taste

Cook all ingredients except rose until soften somewhat.  Taste for sweetness, if you want it sweeter add more muscadine/grape syrup.

Serve with cookies and/or with cream or ice cream.

*If you want to use something else, take 2 cups grape juice and 1/2 c sugar and reduce by 1/2
or take 4 c grapes with 1/2 c sugar and 1 t lemon juice and cook slowly till the grapes have dissolved.
Strain the grapes out and check the texture.  If it is too runny, reduce.  If you can't find muscadine, any dark grape will do, especially concords.

Cherry Rose Cookies (makes 3 doz. –– recipe with a little help from Taste of Home Baking)

1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar (I think 1/3 c is better, 1/2 c is very sweet)
2 T brown sugar
1/2 egg
3 T cherry juice from Coupe recipe or from good canned or frozen sour cherries
2 t lemon juice
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 plus 2 T flour
1/4 t baking soda
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 c chopped cherries from the Coupe recipe or from good canned or frozen sour cherries
1-2 drops Aftelier Rose Essence or 1-2 t rosewater to taste

Cream the butter and the sugar
Add the egg, cherry and lemon with the beaters running

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix for a minute.

Add the cherries.

Roll into 2 - 1' logs on plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours or till hardened

Preheat oven to 375º

Cut each log into 18 cookies and place on cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes until slightly brown around edges.

See the Creative Cooking Crew Pinterest Board HERE

I will be off on a trip for the next few weeks and don't know if I'll be able to post.  Since it was last minute I have nothing in the pipe, as 'twere!

Follow Me on Pinterest


Unknown said...

such wonderful inspiration! i am on the hunt for sour cherries this year, such a treat that I don't want to miss out!!

La Table De Nana said...

C'est tellement joli..

the Mother Vine..looks like the grape vines of my neighbors tennis court fence that scrambles here:(

I have moût de raisin..wonder if I could use instead of..?

And would love Monet's kitchen more said...

I see pink cookies...would love to have a few. I so enjoy reading oyur posts...always learning from you.

Faith said...

Cherries are the absolute love of my life this time of year...what a beautiful treat!

pam said...

You make everything so interesting! And, I want to fill my kitchen with jars with red lids!

Rhodesia said...

So much rain this year our cherries were spoilt. I managed to make 10 jars of jam and that was it from a tree that was originally laden!! Never mind I still have some frozen from 2011 as last year was a bad year as well!
Great post as always with so much of interest. Take care Diane

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

What a beautiful estate. And you chose one of my favorite fruits! Love the dish, such a great color.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I would love to be able to fly off to England like you! You have always pour yourself into research for your posts and you've outdone yourself this time,

The mother vine is so impressive!

Glorious photos and what a delightful dessert.

Lazaro Cooks said...

I'm not a big sweets person but these cookies are quite inviting.

Jennifer Kendall said...

I just love reading your posts - they are always so interesting! and your dish is absolutely lovely! gorgeous!!

Barbara said...

(That first photo almost looks like a painting. Beautiful, I agree.)
The black and white tile is lovely and are those pewter plates above it? Almost looks like a collection of bells under those. Much to see in these photos, Deana. Isn't that kitchen a hoot? The painted wall....the drapes. In a kitchen yet! I love those jars with red tops. All to be topped off with your two recipes. Robert May has certainly been an inspiration. The coupe sounds delicious, love the rose essence addition. Very inviting photo.
Have a marvelous time...I know we'll all be awaiting some marvelous posts when you get back.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Oh lucky you! I have yet to go to England and I'm SO JEALOUS. That castle is so charming, I hope we get to hear ALL ABOUT IT here. These cookies sound truly delicious.....

Joan Nova said...

Beautiful colors and plating for presentation.

mandy said...

What a treat to travel to such special times & places with you Deana! Thank you for including our Rose Chef’s Essence in your luscious & lavish piece!
xo Mandy

Lori Lynn said...

Hi Deana - charming post, as always. Love the combination of cherry + rose. Cookies sound heavenly!

toko baju muslim murah said...

enjoy your posts it is very interesting to read thank you I really liked your article

LaDivaCucina said...

The photos are gorgeous as usual and of course, I appreciate the time you take to give us our history lesson! Cherries and roses sound divine, especially in a cookie!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Now aren't these the most luscious little gems? Cherry-spiked and so perfect for a summer snack. The photos are lovely as usual, your historical references fascinating, and your pleasant company so beautiful on this gorgeous day. Thank you Deana for visiting today; yeah, tomorrow we find out what all the hubbub is about GOOGLE READER disappearing. I have NO clue what that means for me, but I just followed some instructions a pal gave me and I think I'm set....too many changes to always chase, wouldn't you agree? I just want to sit under a tree and eat some cherry cookies and enjoy life.


Victoria said...

These cookies are pretty in pink, that's for sure. The cherry is perfect for summer :) Yum!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I would love to wander about the grounds of all those lovely castles, as long as I could pack a picnic lunch with your Cherry Rose Cookies! Lovely!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Cherries are one of my favourite fruit but I must admit that I learnt more from your post than I ever knew about cherries!

Marjie said...

Beautiful cookies! Hope you're having a wonderful vacation, and that Petunia is well cared for.

Unknown said...

What a great post, I had no idea about muscadine grapes but a lot of health food over here is flavoured with grape syrup. Going on the state of my cherry tree (less than 40 miles from Scotney) you may be a bit early for the cherry harvest this year, we have had such a horrible spring but good luck. Kent is a lovely place. If it isn't too late can I recommend a trip to Hever Castle while you are in Kent.

You won't find any food history related things but it is stunning and the childhood home of Anne Boleyne.

Creations by Marie Antoinette and Edie Marie said...

You know what??? All your photos are stunning and I want some sour cherries, but the most awesome thing to me was the Mother Vine...I get this funny feeling about it. I don't know why. I am going to ponder it for awhile.
XXOO Marie Antoinette

Sue said...

I do so love your blog Deana, it's truly inspirational - and beautiful! I have the scent of warm cherries in my head now so am off to buy some :-)


Frank said...

You must tell us all about Scotney Castle after you've seen it. What an incredibly beautiful place. I love buildings with a history of additions (and subtractions) over the centuries...

Sarah said...

I have been away for such a long time! I am always amazed by your research and stories. I am intrigued by your use of muscadine grapes. I was introduced to them when I was in TN. They made the most amazing jelly. Great post.

Chocolate Shavings said...

The cookies look lovely!

Anonymous said...

Completely chuffed you're back, even just for this one post. Oh, how many times have I forlornly visited your page to see new posts only to find the answer to my hunger for your delightful prose came there none? :)