Happy Friday, friends! I really should take Friday off from work more often. Maybe it's because I'm still in the workday mentality that I have so much energy and feel like I'm going to accomplish lots today. Kinda like a kid playing hooky from school. "Bueller? Bueller?" Come to think of it, a former coworker would put in four 10-hour days and have a three day weekend to enjoy every single week. That lady was one smart cookie :)
So, after sleeping in until the late hour of 7:15 [gasp!], I got up to start a birthday breakfast for Matt. Not a cake, you're wondering? Since he's admittedly not really a dessert guy (I know!) and breakfast is his favorite meal, I told him to stop by for a real treat before his exam this morning. His hands-down favorite thing that I make is sour cherry pie. So much so that when I've mentioned making it for a group of friends, his response is something along the lines of, "I don't want to share!" Well-spoken for a guy one day away from his 27th birthday, no?
But, this year Matt is headed to Florida with his dad for baseball spring training and departs on his actual birthday. In other words, if I made a pie, I'd be stuck with the majority of the thing for a week. It wouldn't keep until he returns, and with Lent approaching, I'm on a mission to rid my apartment of sweets. Coincidentally, I had a container of frozen cherries and their juice left from the last pie mission and was determined to use them in a breakfast-appropriate creation.
Heavy coffee cakes, muffins, and other confections populated the lists of recipes when I typed in "breakfast, sour cherries" into my search engine. Thankfully, one stuck out, and it was Gourmet magazine to the rescue! A five ingredient simple breakfast strudel. Easy to assemble... all of the pleasure of a pie with much less hassle. The flavor of the sweet tart little cherries is what makes this pastry shine. The phyllo dough bakes into a golden flaky crust enveloping the ooey gooey cherry filling. (Think of this sour cherry strudel like thin crust pizza is to its thick-crusted counterpart.) And, somehow, it doesn't feel too heavy to start off your morning right. Of course, if you saved this for a dessert or wanted to edge it closer to that column, topping with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would certainly do the trick.
Off to do the dishes while brainiac takes his exam before we head out to celebrate his birthday a little early. My gift to him? A shopping spree of the male kind. Guess what he's picked as his top three stores? Dick's Sporting Goods, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble. Sigh... I suppose he'll never appreciate shoes quite like I do :) Enjoy your weekend!
Sour Cherry Strudels
(adapted from Gourmet's recipe)
A few notes: Work quickly with the phyllo dough, and be sure to keep unused portions covered with a damp towel at all times. Also, don't worry if the cherry mixture oozes a bit prior to baking. It'll taste just as delicious, and look even better... I like to think that wimpy phyllo dough just can't contain all of the gloriousness of the cherries. Finally, if sour cherries are out of season or just not your cup of tea, feel free to substitute any fruit filling of your choice.
5 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) pitted sour cherries (1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
15 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen for 30 minutes at room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
Bring cherries (with any juices), 3/4 cup sugar, and cornstarch to a boil in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then simmer 2 minutes. Transfer filling to a bowl and cool completely.
While cherry filling cools, arrange 3 phyllo sheets in 1 layer on a work surface and let dry 15 minutes. Keeping 12 remaining sheets stacked, halve crosswise, then stack halves. Cover stack with a piece of plastic wrap and a dampened kitchen towel. Finely crumble 3 dried phyllo sheets into a bowl.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange 1 piece of phyllo on work surface with a short side nearest you (keep remaining sheets covered) and brush with some butter. Top with 3 more phyllo pieces, brushing each with butter.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons crumbled phyllo over lower third of buttered phyllo, leaving a 2-inch border along bottom and sides, then top with a rounded 1/3 cup filling. Fold bottom edge of phyllo up over filling and fold in sides to enclose filling completely, then roll up phyllo to form a strudel, about 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches. Transfer, seam side down, to a butered baking sheet. Brush top with some butter, then sprinkle lightly with 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Cut 2 (1-inch) vents diagonally across top of strudel, about 1 1/2 inches apart, with a paring knife. Make 5 more strudels in same manner.
Bake strudels in middle of oven until golden brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool at least 10 minutes if serving while warm, or for 30 minutes if serving at room temperature. Top with powdered sugar, ice cream, or whipped cream if using and enjoy!