dried cherries

dark chocolate chunk cookies with dried cherries and walnuts

I’m not sure if this is true where you live, but here in Brooklyn this has been the weirdest, craziest winter I’ve ever seen.

dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and walnuts

To start with, up until very recently we’ve barely had anything even remotely close to an actual “winter”. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but on Christmas eve it was almost 70 degrees outside. On Christmas day we had to open all the windows in the house while I made dinner, but with the oven on all day we were still all overheated and sweaty by dinner time, even with the open windows.

dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and walnuts | Brooklyn Homemaker

After Christmas it was more of the same. Temperatures didn’t dip below freezing until well after the new year, but even then snow flakes were nowhere in sight. Having grown up and lived in New York State for my entire life, this is the latest and longest I’ve ever waited to see flakes of frozen water fall from the sky.

dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and walnuts

Then, practically out of nowhere, we got dumped on.

A few days before it happened they mentioned the possibility of a blizzard on the news. As the day of the blizzard grew nearer, the predictions grew bleaker and more serious. They even named the storm the same way they name hurricanes. Winter storm Jonas. Since when do we name winter storms?
By the morning before Jonas came to town, they were practically predicting the end of the world, by snow and freezing and ice.

I’ve been around this block before though, this unpredictable New York State weather block, so I took the impending “snowpocalypse” with a grain of salt.

dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and walnuts

Then it hit us. I checked the window just before bed last Friday night, and saw that a few flakes were just beginning to stick. I honestly expected that I’d wake the next morning to find an inch or so of accumulation, and turn on the news to hear apologies and oopsies from our local meteorologists. It’s happened before.

My alarm woke me early Saturday morning, and before I started to get ready for work I checked the window. I suppose I shouldn’t have been, but I was shocked to see that we already had about six inches on the ground, with plenty more on the way. Part of me thought it wouldn’t keep up though, and I had to go in to work anyway, so I went about my day. It wasn’t until I got to work, my beard covered in snow, that I started to realize it wasn’t letting up. It was getting worse. Some of my coworkers couldn’t even get in for the day because the trains couldn’t get through.

By noon the governor had issued a state of emergency and they were announcing bus closures and travel bans. Not long after that the police commissioner sent out a tweet saying that anyone found driving on the roads in NYC would be arrested. Staff at work, myself included, started to panic and since there weren’t many customers to speak of, we closed early and trudged our way home while we still could. Luckily the train line I live off of runs underground. There were delays, but it was still running. I walked home from the train down the middle of the street, since most sidewalks in my neighborhood hadn’t yet been shoveled.

dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and walnuts

The next morning the clouds parted and the sun came out, but the sidewalks still weren’t shoveled, the intersections not clear to pedestrians, and the streets were barely plowed. I was practically snowed in, and with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I figured I may as well bake some cookies.

dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and walnuts

I didn’t want to brave the streets so I dug through the cupboards and took inventory of what we had in the house. My mom gave me a big bag of shelled walnuts the last time I went to visit, and I had an extra bag of dried cherries leftover from my Christmas pork roast.  I didn’t have any chocolate chips in the house, but I did have a big ass bar of 72% dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s. (incidentally, I’m not sure if you have a TJ’s near you, but I seriously can’t sing enough praises for the price and quality of their chocolate. I generally try to avoid specific product endorsements, but their “Pound Plus” bars are a dream come true to someone who loves chocolate almost as much as he loves to bake.)

dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and walnuts

In keeping with the extremely unusual and unpredictable nature of this winter, it’s less than a week since our “snowmageddon” and it’s melting away as quickly as it came. There will be nothing left but memories and instagram photos in a few days more.

dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and walnuts

Whether you’re snowed in or just want a sweet treat, these cookies are THE BOMB!

The cookie itself is buttery, soft, chewy, delicately salty, and perfect in every way (Thanks Martha). Twice as much brown sugar as white ensures a tender chewy cookie that stays soft for days. Rather than the traditional chocolate chips though, this cookie is loaded with pockets of rich and melty bittersweet dark chocolate; studded with bits of chewy, sweet, tart, and jammy dried cherries; and peppered with just enough crunchy, toasty, nutty, earthy, ever-so-slightly-bitter walnuts to tie it all together. These three ingredients were seriously made for each other.

What are you still doing here? Go preheat that oven and take that butter out to soften!

dark chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and walnuts

Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Dried Cherries and Walnuts

  • Servings: makes approximately 32 cookies, depending on scoop size
  • Print
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup chopped walnuts
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar (light would work fine too)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups dark chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup chopped dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer, and toast for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until they smell toasty and nutty. Cool and roughly chop.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars and beat on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well combined, for about 1 minute. Add flour, mix until just combined, then stir in the chocolate, cherries, and walnuts just until evenly distributed.

Scoop dough out using a portion scoop and place cookies about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. I like big cookies so I used a #24 scoop, which works out to about 3 tablespoons of dough per cookie. You can make smaller cookies, and you’ll end up with more individual cookies, but you’ll need to reduce the baking time by a few minutes. Alternatively you can make larger cookies with a smaller yield, but you may need to extend the baking time by 2 or 3 minutes.

Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, around 11 to 13 minutes for 3 tablespoon sized scoops. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week. 

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cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast

The holiday season is well under way and it really shows here in North Brooklyn.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Christmas tree stands every few blocks, a giant electric menorah on the corner of Bedford and North 7th, blinking lights lining apartment windows and fire escapes, subway passengers with arms loaded up with shopping bags, inescapable holiday music everywhere you go…
You know, the ushe.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Yesterday we stopped at one of those aforementioned Christmas tree stands and I carried our little 3 foot cutie home with one hand. After dinner we drank Dark and Stormys and listened to disco music (instead of the usual holiday tunes) while we gussied her up.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve usually got cookies and cakes and candies (and sugar plums et al) dancing in my head this time of year, but instead I’ve been very concerned about what to make for Christmas dinner lately.

(fret not dear friends, I promise the cookies and cakes are still in the works too!)

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

See, we’ve got big plans on Christmas day this year so I’m getting really excited about making a big fancy dinner.

Working in retail for the past several years has always meant that it’s just me and Russell and the pups for Christmas. These past few years have been totally fun, and really refreshingly casual and stress free, but they haven’t really been occasions to go all out when it comes to the holiday meal.

This year though, my mom and little sister found themselves with no plans for Christmas so they’re piling in the car and coming down to pay us a visit! Let the festivities begin!

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Mom’s always bummed that she never gets to eat any of the treats I post here on the blog, so I’ve got big plans to make a few of my recent recipes for her while she’s here. I’m going to load her up with enough sugar and sweets and goodies that she won’t even want to look at another blog post for at least a year. Or, at least until the new year that is!

We can’t just live on Christmas cookies for three days though. I mean, we might still try anyway, but I thought I should at least attempt to think of an actual meal to serve on Christmas day.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Growing up my family usually served either ham or prime rib on Christmas, but Russell doesn’t really like either of those. Ham tends to be too salty for him, and we always have way too much leftover after dinner anyway. The last time I made a ham for Christmas we were eating ham sandwiches and split pea soup for a week! As for prime rib, I’d be in heaven but Russell doesn’t like meat that isn’t cooked completely through so that’s out too.
Womp womp.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

My initial thought was to make the pot roast I made a few months back, which would probably make everyone happy (very happy) but I’ve already made that so I couldn’t share it here and where’s the fun in that?
Oh what an exciting life I lead!

Instead I decided to make a pork loin roast. Not just any pork loin roast though, this puppy is butterflied, pounded flat, stuffed with magic, and rolled up jelly roll style before it’s roasted and sliced.

Rolling this back up and tying it with butcher’s twine can be a bit challenging but when you take your first bite you’ll know it was all worth it. The thinner you can pound out the meat the easier the rolling will be, but the pounding can be a time consuming (and noisy) job. The good news is that it’s also a great way to work out any pent-up frustrations after you do your holiday shopping!

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

This roast is truly amazing and I can’t wait to serve it for mom on Christmas. The meat is rich and tender and moist, and the stuffing is flavorful and sweet and earthy all at once. You really can’t ask for a better stuffing for pork than bright jammy dried cherries, tons of fresh herbs, and chewy earthy wild rice. As if the roast wasn’t amazing enough on it’s own, you finish it all off with a pan gravy made from white wine and the liquid leftover from soaking the dried cherries. The result is a rich, bright, and slightly sweet and fruity gravy that is literally the cherry on the sundae!

Are you reading this mom? Is your mouth watering yet?
Can’t wait! Happy Holidays y’all!

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Cherry and Wild Rice Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

1 (3 pound) pork loin roast
salt and pepper
3/4 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 to 3 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup cooked wild rice (from about 1/3 cup dry)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 dry white wine, divided
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock (low sodium if possible)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Trim large pieces of fat from pork roast. Butterfly the meat by making a lengthwise cut down the center, cutting to within 1/2 inch of the other side so that the meat can be spread open and laid flat. Cover the flattened roast with plastic wrap and, working from center to the edges, pound with flat side of a meat mallet (or small cast iron skillet) until meat is a uniform 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Remove plastic wrap and generously season meat with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside to rest while you make the stuffing. Refrigerate if you won’t be making stuffing right away.

Bring one cup of water to a boil in a small lidded saucepan. Add chopped cherries and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, place lid on pan, and let the cherries soak for 10 minutes.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove cherries from soaking liquid with a slotted spoon and add to onions and celery. Reserve liquid. Add cooked wild rice and herbs and stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and reduce until mostly absorbed. Cool stuffing completely before proceeding.

Spread stuffing over pork and roll up as tightly as possible. Seal the seams with toothpicks, leaving enough pick showing that they’ll be easy to remove after cooking. Tightly tie up the roast with cooking twine.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or oven safe roasting pan over medium high heat. Sear roast on all sides, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer, uncovered, to a 375F oven. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the roast reads at least 145F, about 80 to 90 minutes.

Remove roast from the pan and transfer to a cutting board tented with foil. Rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. If any stuffing or meat burned onto the pan, try to scrape it up with a wooden spoon but leave it in the pan. There should be at least a few tablespoons of oil and grease in the pan, if not, add a bit more olive oil. Add flour and stir into oil and grease and heat over medium for 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly stir in remaining 1/4 cup of wine, 1/2 cup of reserved cherry soaking liquid, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and thicken for a 2 to 3 minutes. Strain any burned bits of stuffing or pork out of the gravy with a fine mesh sieve.

Remove toothpicks and twine from roast, and slice into 1 inch thick slices. Serve topped with gravy. If desired, serve over a bed of wilted ruby chard or braising greens.