Whosits and Whatsits

do dads drawer

I’ve got whosits and whatsits galore.

Anyone who has watched Disney’s The Little Mermaid more than once knows that line. (And will have the song running through her head all day.)  Son #1 was very much in love with Ariel, so we watched it at least a million times.  And thanks to Mama Mildred he had sheets, pillowcases and a comforter with that cute redheaded mermaid on them.

The first time La Brune came to visit from France, she took one look at this


and asked me if I planned to open a restaurant.  The Ex-Ex and she bonded powerfully right at that very moment.  He wonders why I need so much stuff, too. (However, he is the one who gave me the blue Le Creuset do-dad holder complete a few more spatulas.)

I just do.  Okay?  (And now I need a new pastry brush because mine went behind the stove yesterday when I was trying to cram  gently return it to its blue holder.)

Until a couple of days ago, though, there was one do-dad I did not own.  A cherry pitter.  I found one while strolling the aisles of Target.

cherry pitter

Did I really need it?  Well, no?  Will I really use it?  Well, yes.  For the few weeks of summer when cherries don’t cost an arm and a leg.  Grandma Bell had a cherry tree in her back yard.  I am surprised that I didn’t eat so many of them that I am sick of them.  They are my favorite fruit.  I learned what a kilo feels like the first time I bought a whole kilo of them at the market in Senlis many years ago.  I actually ended up sharing them with students that time.

I bought these cherries in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in southern France back in 2012 during our BFF trip to France.  We were having a picnic near the river.

And who doesn’t love a cherry seller who makes his own earrings? And hugs Americans.

cherry seller

Once I bought the cherry pitter, I fired up the oven and got to work.  Cherry scones first.

I was going to visit my friend Lyn and she is an Aussie afternoon tea drinker, so I thought she might like some.  I am not completely happy with the results.  I was going for a more biscuit-like less sweet scone than you usually find in the US, but it needs some tweaking.

The next day, Son #1’s girlfriend, EB, sent me a video with a recipe for cherry clafoutis. What a coincidence since she didn’t know about the new do-dad nor did she know that I still had quite a few cherries waiting to be pitted and baked into something delicious.

Son #1 loves cherry pie and often has that instead of a birthday cake, thanks to his Grandma E.  He is a Thanksgiving baby and she bakes one just for him.  And he obliges by eating the whole pie himself.  I gave him a slice of the clafoutis and he gave it his blessing. A good day for baking and motherhood.

I didn’t entirely follow this recipe for the scones.  (Hers are way prettier!)  I added the almond extract to the batter because I didn’t plan to glaze them- trying to cut down on the sweetness.  I added the almond extract to the dough when I added the buttermilk.  I patted the dough out and cut them with a biscuit cutter instead of the mounds.  I plan to make them again today to use up the pint of blueberries in my refrigerator.  I will follow the recipe more closely this time and swap out the almond extract for lemon extract and lemon peel.  Watch the baking times.  Mine got too done on the bottom before I moved the pans.  I always set a timer, but I should have shortened the time.  Neither Lyn nor the Ex-Ex complained, but I wasn’t entirely happy.

Cherry Almond Scones

from table for two (adapted from Food and Wine); makes approximately 16

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur is my favorite- I want to work for this company!)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • 1 cup halved, pitted cherries
  • 1 tablespoons sparking sugar

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup sliced almonds (toasting them in a pan brings out the flavor)

  • Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into the flour using two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Work quickly, though, so that the butter doesn’t melt.  Stir in the buttermilk, then gently fold in the cherries.
  • With an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets.  Brush the tops with buttermilk, then sprinkle sparkling sugar on top.
  • Bake the scones in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom half way through the baking.
  • Let scones cool for 10 minutes on the pan before removing to wire racks for complete cooling.
  • While the scones cool, whisk together sugar, milk, and almond extract until you get a thick enough glaze but still thin enough to drizzle.
  • Using a fork, dip into the glaze and then gently, in a zig zag motion, drizzle over each cooled scone, then top with almonds.  (Put a piece of parchment paper under your cooling rack for easier clean up.)
  • Let dry for 10 minutes before serving.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


Cherry Clafoutis or Cherry Pie, French Style

ScrumDiddlyUmptiouscheck it out, there is even one of those quick videos (they give a great preview to whether or not I really want to make something)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 21 ounces cherries, pitted and halved (or you can leave them whole if you wish)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Generously butter a quiche pan (or any round baking dish).  Sprinkle a tablespoon of the sugar into the buttered dish and carefully shake it so that the sugar is evenly distributed, even on the edges.
  3. Place the cherries in the dish.
  4. In a bowl, add the eggs, remaining sugar and salt; mix well.
  5. Add flour, vanilla and almond extracts, melted butter, and milk to the egg mixture.  Beat until smooth.
  6. Pour the mixture evenly over the cherries and bake for 45 minutes until golden brown. (I sprinkled sliced almonds on the top before baking.)
  7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, before serving.

Mlle de Tavel, moi (when I was La Blonde) and La Brune in 2012 chez Olivier et Muriel Allemand– Vous me manquez, mes amies!


EB, Son #1, and Buddha the Wonder Dog


Bon appétit and Happy Baking to all!






2 thoughts on “Whosits and Whatsits

  1. Oooh– all of those cherry desserts look delicious. Love the way you weaved the story about cherries in France with your cherry pitter at home. There’s something special about eating local fruit in another country, especially when it’s got the scenery and people to accompany it.


  2. Pingback: Labels | the sabbatical chef

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