Ellen Kushner is running a competition here tied to the launch of the audiobook of The Fall of the Kings. She asks for recipes set in the Riverside world of the books and, as they're my favourites, I thought I'd have a go. Here, then, is the recipe for Cherries Tremontaine:
Take some stale leftover cake (or a packet of trifle sponges) and a cup of stolen cherries (or a can of cherry pie filling if you prefer) and mix them together in a big stoneware dish. Include some cherry brandy or brandy if you have any lying around that Alex hasn't finished. That's your base.
Then break three eggs and separate out the yolks and the whites. Keep the whites in a clean bowl while you do the next bit.
Break the yolks and mix them with a little sugar (about two ounces) and a little vanilla essence or the scrapings of a vanilla pod, if you have them. Then warm about a pint of milk in a pan and slowly mix it into the eggs, (adding a little cornflour if the mixture curdles) When the warm milk and eggs are mixed together, heat them gently in the pan till you have a smooth custard. Pour it over the base.
Finally you'll need a pair of strong wrists and a big fork (or an electric mixer) to beat the egg whites - remember them? - till they stand up in stiff peaks. When they're stiff and twice the volume they were, gently spoon in a final ounce of sugar if you still have some, and then spread the meringue mixture on top of the custard.
Bake in the oven on a low heat till the meringue is crisp. It isn't going to be dry and white and boring but brown and chewy; the custard will be hot and sweet and the brandied cherries will warm your bones.