In the summer, I'm constantly buying too much at the market, particularly when it comes to fruit and herbs. The fruit is patient with me, but herbs -- and especially basil, my favorite -- need to be used up relatively quickly. The solution? I've started incorporating basil into everything, from salads, to cocktails, to dessert. (Make the basil simple syrup alone and use it for cocktails, punches, or mixed into fizzy water for a quick soda.) —Cristina Sciarra
Test Kitchen Notes
I have never been one to swoon over cherries, but lately I'm just smitten with them. One of my favorite places on earth is a coffee shop, but I'm not much of a coffee drinker, so I often get a cherry-lime Italian soda, Now I know an Italian soda doesn’t use real cherries, but I enjoy the cherry taste. This crisp captures the same flavors of my favorite soda with real cherries, specifically six brimming cups of them. This crisp is a combination of fresh cherries, basil and a crispy, nutty topping. Get your cherry pitter ready. —Molly Bakelette
Pour the water and the 1/3 cup of sugar into a medium pot. Turn the heat to medium, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the basil. Simmer until the syrup is thickened, and has reduced by 2/3. Discard the basil, and let the syrup cool. (You can make this syrup several days in advance, and store it in the fridge.)
In a mixing bowl, toss the cooled basil syrup with the pitted cherries. Set the bowl aside.
Empty the slivered almonds into the bowl of a food processor; whiz for about 30 seconds, until the almonds are reduced to dusty crumbles.
Put the almond crumbles, the flour, the salt, and the butter into a large bowl. Use your fingers to make small "pebbles." Add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and keep smushing with your fingers until the mix resembles wet sand.
Empty the basil-cherries into a casserole or baking dish. Top the cherries with the crisp topping. Move the dish to the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the crisp is a shade darker, and the cherries are bubbling. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, if you like.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.