Tête de Moine with Cherry Pepper Sauce

Here comes the next installment of the cherry series. This one came about rather unplanned, as I had been meaning to make something else entirely, namely a strawberry carpaccio with Tête de Moine, a starter I once made for guests a few years ago. If you’re not familiar with Tête de Moine cheese – it’s Swiss, you get it at the cheese counter only (at least where I live), and it is usually cut with a girolle, which scrapes over the cheese thus turning the scrapings into rose-like creations.  Very pretty.

So being in the midst of my cherry phase, I was wondering whether I could adapt my recipe and use cherries instead of strawberries. But then I figured it would probably be a little too time-consuming to slice cherries thinly to make a carpaccio from them, and put that idea on the back burner. Until I happened onto an online recipe for pork chops with a cherry pepper sauce at essen & trinken, a German food magazine, which gave me the idea to swap the pork chops for Tête de Moine.

This cherry pepper sauce is almost like a chutney, eaten cold according to the recipe. I served it still slightly warm, which was very nice, too. Apart from preparing the cherries, this was very quickly done, and I found the result really delicious. The cherries were quite sweet, and with the Balsamic vinegar and the pickled green peppercorns, the contrast of sweet and spicy was very pleasant. When you take a forkful, then make out the cherries, and suddenly you bite on a peppercorn, it’s almost like a little taste explosion… I love that sort of thing.

As for the port, you can use any sort you happen to have at home. I had a bottle of Portuguese Old Port that I had been given a couple of years ago, still unopened. For Balsamic vinegar, I have recently discovered a very mild and sweetish one that’s made from Rioja wine, and I haven’t used any other sort since, I’m really hooked. As I didn’t know how much of the cheese I’d be needing, I told the lady at the counter to make it 4 “roses” per person, which happened to come to about 200 g altogether.

Tête de Moine with Cherry Pepper Sauce

500 g morello cherries
100 g shallots or small onions
3 tbsp sugar
1 – tbsp pickled green peppercorns
5 tbsp port
5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
cayenne pepper
200 g Tête de Moine (4 “roses” per person)

Serves 4

Wash cherries, remove stalks, and pit them. [I cut three quarters into halves, and quartered the rest.] Peel shallots or onions, and cut them into slim wedges.

Melt 3 tbsp sugar. Add the cherries, shallots and peppercorns, then deglaze with the port, vinegar and 100 ml water. [I mixed these together beforehand.] Leave to cook for 3 – 5 minutes, until the caramel has dissolved. Season with a pinch of salt and cayenne. Let cool.

Arrange the Tête de Moine roses, drizzle a little of the cherry pepper sauce around them, and put the rest of the sauce on the table for people to help themselves.