WHEN WE WERE first married, in 1957, one of the very few cookbooks we had was brand new: Cooking Bold and Fearless, a compilation of recipes sent in by amateur cooks, all of them men, as contributions to "Chefs of the West," a column that ran back in those quaint old days in Sunset magazine. The idea was that it was unusual that a man would cook in the kitchen; that if he did he was likely to come up with something — well, bold; out of the ordinary.
Many of the recipes failed to interest us at the time, and probably more would now if we were to go through the book page by page. But we've kept the book all these years, and so have our kids, because among the oddities, the roasts with too many things in the marinade, the oddly composed salads, among all those are a few things we immediately liked.
And tonight Cook returned to a favorite, one we haven't had in years. It's nothing but a cherry pudding, involving cherries, butter, flour, and sugar, with a few drops of almond extract. As the book's editor points out, the secret is to burn the butter, but not too much. Cook used to use commercially canned cherries for this, and it was among the repertory that captivated David and Alice when they walked up the block for dessert.
Tonight she used some frozen sour cherries from our own tree. We didn't get any this year — the birds got them all. But there were some in the freezer from a previous harvest: they store well.
The pudding always makes me think, these days, of clafoutis, another favorite of mine, but a little more involved. This is simpler, more direct, and I can see why Alice loved it.
IT WASN'T ALL we had for dinner, of course: there was a very nice risotto, made with a complex sausage of Franco Dunn's, whose ingredients I meant to record but forgot to — made according to his instructions: make an onion soffrito in the usual way (he uses both butter and olive oil); crumble the sausage in at the time you add the rice; then the white wine and stock. Then came some sliced tomatoes, and then the green salad.
But what I wanted you to know about was the cherry pudding. Such a delicious thing!