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Handpicked Chef Series

Elite chefs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana spent a day in the kitchen with us showcasing their favorite recipes made with sweet Northwest-grown cherries.

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Handpicked Chef Series - Whitefish, Mont.

Recipes developed by Chef Andy Blanton of Cafe Kandahar

Cherry Sauce
Makes about 1 and ½ quarts

2 cups NW sweet cherries, pitted and de-stemmed
2 oz. shallots, peeled and minced
1 oz. olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 bouqet garni of fresh thyme (about the width of a cigar, tie with butchers twine)
½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
¾ cup Port wine
1 qt. Demi-Glace
Kosher Salt/Black Pepper

1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil and shallots, sweat (until translucent), about 2-3 minutes, and add a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Add bay leaves and cherries.
2. Continue to cook over medium high heat until cherries begin to sweat slightly, about 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Do not allow shallots to brown.
3. Add Balsamic Vinegar, Port wine, and bouqet garni of thyme, continuing to cook over medium high heat, until fully reduced, about 5-10 minutes. The mixture should become syrupy and almost fully evaporated. At this stage, add the demi-glace and reduce to desired consistency. Remove bay leaves and thyme. Sauce can be kept for several days, or served immediately. Enjoy!

Cherry Tart

Ingredients - Pie Dough
16 oz all purpose flour
10 oz unsalted butter
6 oz cold water
Pinch of salt

Ingredients - Pastry Cream
2 oz all purpose flour
6 oz granulated sugar
16 oz whole milk
6 egg yolks
½ vanilla bean (split)
1 oz unsalted butter

Ingredients - Cherry Topping
2 cups NW sweet cherries (pitted)
½ cup sugar in the raw

1. Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, stir until well combined. Make the pie dough by grating in the butter to the flour, stirring the flour to incorporate the butter. What you are after are pea size chunks, so the grating technique works well to achieve a uniform consistency. Rub the butter and flour between your fingers to insure the butter is the right size and is mixed in. Pour in the cold water, and mix only to combine. Do not knead dough. The less you work it, the more flaky the crust will become. You should have a nice dough. Wrap with plastic film, and place in a refrigerator for at least one hour.
2. Prepare the pastry cream. Sift the flour and sugar together. Then place yolks into a mixing bowl, add 8 oz of the milk. Stir the flour/sugar mixture into the yolk/milk mixture until smooth and combined. Heat the remaining milk and vanilla bean in a heavy duty saucepan (copper works best, stainless steel also). Scald milk (just before boiling), then temper the milk mixture into the egg mixture by slowly adding hot milk stirring constantly. Once all the scalded milk is incorporated, pour mixture back into the sauce pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (or heat resistant metal spatula) until the mixture begins to thicken. Using a stiff whisk, continue to stir constantly until the mixture is very thick, and pulls away from the whisk (or the sides of the pan), about 2-3 minutes. The key is to allow the starchiness from the flour to cook out, yet at the same time stirring constantly as not to allow the mixture to scorch or overcook the eggs. The mixture will be very thick at this stage. Remove from the heat, place saucepan in ice bath, add butter and stir constantly until butter is combined. Set aside and reserve once cooled, removing the vanilla bean from the now cooked custard.
3. Prepare the cherry topping. Place cherries and sugar, with a touch of water, in a saucepan over high heat. Cook until the cherries begin to release their juices. Keep the mixture on high heat, and as the liquid in the pan (from the cherries and sugar) begins to reveal a syrupy consistency, continue to cook until desired consistency, about 5-10 minutes. Strain the cooked sweet cherries and reserve the liquid. At this point, you can continue to reduce the liquid by cooking over low heat, allowing the syrup to naturally thicken. This liquid can be used as a garnish for the tart.
4. To assemble the tarts, roll out the pie dough. Butter and flour a tart pan, the size is dependent upon the amount being made. At any rate, roll out the dough to even thickness, form dough in tart pan. Spoon pastry cream so that the entire base of the tart is covered with the pastry cream, about a ½ thick. Add cherries on top of the pastry cream. Bake at 375 until the crust begins to brown, about 15-20 minutes. Use cherry syrup for garnish if desired once the tart is unmolded. Alternatively, you can by a pre-made tart. We like to use a tart pan with a fluted edge and a removable bottom for easy unmolding. Serve warm and enjoy!

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