Showing posts with label clafoutis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clafoutis. Show all posts

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Traditional Cherry Clafoutis

The traditional baked French cherry clafoutis is made from sweet summer cherries and a sweet eggy batter. Serve it with some cream for a really easy yet decadent dessert.

Many years ago, we lived in a beautiful old home in Paris. This one, in fact. We were visiting friends this week and I stuck my camera up over the gate to get a photo.

But what I really wish I could show you is the back garden. It wasn’t as large as the front but its walls were covered with red climbing roses and it was shaded by the generous branches of an immense cherry tree. During the summer, we would feast on sweet red cherries till we couldn’t eat any more. We made pies and jam and even cherry bounce, a sweet wine of sorts. We froze them in baggies. We gave them to neighbors. We shared them with friends. Indeed, we were amply blessed. For me, cherries ARE summer in Paris. And forever after, everywhere, cherries MEAN summer. And vice versa.

When I first saw the theme of this week’s Sunday Supper - farmers’ markets and local food - I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to take part. In Dubai, the markets are closed for the summer. With daily highs that can soar to above 46°C or 114°F, no one wants to sit outside to sell anything. And, as you can imagine, customers would also be scarce. I was delighted when we ended up with a week in Paris visiting friends, while my dear husband attended to his work-related reasons for the trip. Yay! Parisian markets are the best!

My friend's neighborhood market. Look at all those cherries! Mine came from right here.

I've added a bunch of market photos at the bottom of this post, for anyone who is interested.

And, since summer means cherries, there was no question about what I would buy at the market. My friend and I were discussing the possibilities for a recipe because we thought it needed to be something French and she said, “Clafoutis.” I replied, “Exactly what I was thinking.” Great minds. And when an American and a Scotswoman in Paris are cooking French, whom else could we turn to but Julia Child? This recipe is from her first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julia will never steer you wrong.

Butter for greasing the pan
1 1/4 cups or 295ml milk
1/3 cup or 75g sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 63g flour
15 oz or 425g fresh sweet cherries
1/3 cup or 75g sugar
Powdered sugar or heavy cream for serving, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your baking pan by buttering it liberally.

Pit your cherries. If you don’t have a cherry pitter, simply tape four toothpicks together and use them to push the pit though from the stem end and out the bottom. Your hands will look like you killed someone but the cherry juice does wash off with just a little staining. Do protect your clothing, which will not be as fortunate.

In a blender or liquidizer, blend the milk, the first 1/3 cup or 75g sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour. I used the hand blender since it’s easier to clean, but I must confess, its measuring vessel was a bit too full and I had to blend veeerrry carefully not to spill. Just listen to Julia and ignore my photos. Use the blender.

Pour a 1/4 inch or 2/3cm layer of the batter in your buttered baking dish.

Bake in the oven about 5-7 minutes or until the batter just sets in the pan. Jiggle the pan to check. Remove from the oven and scatter your cherries evenly over the batter.

Sprinkle on the second 1/3 cup or 75g sugar.

Pour on the rest of the batter.

Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the clafoutis is puffed and golden and a knife plunged in the center comes out clean.

It falls again after just a few minutes but still tastes the same so don’t worry.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with heavy cream and serve warm.


Appetizers & Salads
Soups & Sides

Marché du Pont de l'Alma

Here are a few photos of the market. And you might have guessed I didn't buy just cherries. :) The wonderful produce is hard to resist.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Zucchini Clafoutis

The English language probably has more words than any other language in the world, and yet, sometimes it is lacking.  As I write this post I am sitting in the dining room of an old friend who lives just south of Paris.  We met more than 20 years ago when I lived in the same little town.  But “old friend” sounds unwarrantedly negative because Mary is only a couple of years older than I am, and frankly, I don’t know anyone younger in spirit and full of positivity – and she is in pretty good physical shape too.  In French, on the other hand, an old friend - one you have known for a very long time - is an ancienne amie.   An old friend - one that is advanced in age - is an amie ancienne.  We need something like that in English, don’t you think? 

Anyhoo, here I am in Paris, enjoying a couple of days with my ancienne amie, Mary, and we have been cooking and gabbing and drinking wine.  She is a wonderful, natural cook who uses fresh ingredients to make delicious meals.  She and her family have made me extremely welcome and I would like to live here forever, except for the probably-imposing-after-a-few-days thing.  I happened to tell Mary about making zucchini clafoutis a couple of weeks ago and suddenly, we had added it to the menu for the evening, along with a sausage pilaf she had already planned.  I sliced and diced the zucchini in the kitchen while she taught a private English class out on the deck in the beautiful sunshine.  The weather has been GORGEOUS this week.  Then she finished the pilaf and got it in the oven, while we enjoyed a glass of wine.  And some more chatting.  Simple delicious food, lovingly prepared then eaten in the company of good friends.  It doesn’t get better than this.

For the vegetables:
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 large onion
1 lb 12 oz or 800 grams small zucchini or courgettes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper for seasoning the zucchini

For the batter:
1/3 cup or 40 grams flour
1/2 cup or 120ml whole milk
3/4 cup or 180ml heavy cream

1/4 cup or 60ml water

3 eggs

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

3 1/8 oz or 90 grams grated Parmesan (Don’t worry too much about the exact measure.  More won’t hurt. :)

Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.   Grease a 13X9in or 33X23cm baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

Chop your onion and set aside.

Scrub the zucchini and cut the ends off.  Slice in 1/4-inch circles. If you have big zucchini, you may choose to peel them. 

Set a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Drizzle with olive oil and add the zucchini and cook till they brown a little.  Now add the chopped onion.

Season with salt and pepper.  Cook gently for a few minutes and then add the thyme.  

Cook until the vegetables are tender and the water coming from the zucchini has mostly evaporated.  Transfer this mixture to the serving dish and allow to cool.

 To make the batter, whisk together the flour, milk, cream, water, eggs, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt until they are silky smooth.

Pour the egg batter over the vegetables.  

Top with the cheese.

Bake the clafoutis until the eggs are set and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

If necessary, brown the top further with the oven broiler or grill before serving.  Can be served hot or at room temperature.