Friday, May 25, 2012

fig clafoutis (and an explanation: what the heck is a clafoutis?)

Clafoutis: (or sometimes called clafouti) is a "baked French dessert of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. The clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and served lukewarm," according to that ever-reliable source wikipedia. The article also notes that the dessert can be made with many other fruits, but then you have to call it a 'flaugnarde.' But if I called this a fig flaugnarde, would anyone ever make it? I don't think so. 

Whatever you call it, it's a super easy dessert that's perfect for summer. Served at room temperature with some ice cream or whip cream, it would be delicious with any fruit, from spring strawberries to summer cherries to fall apples. There were some deliciously ripe figs at the fruit market by my house, so I couldn't resist. But I'll definitely be making a traditional cherry clafouti later in the summer, with the pits in for added flavour (and laziness), just like the French do!
(click on the picture for a larger version)

Fig Clafoutis
(adapted from this recipe)

3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla paste
1/2 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup all purpose flour
15 to 20 fresh figs
2 or 3 tbsp turbinado sugar
butter or grapeseed oil for baking dish

Preheat oven to 350. Beat eggs in a large bowl with a whisk. Beat in milk, vanilla, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Sift flour into other ingredients, and beat well, until all clumps are gone, and the mixture is smooth and frothy. Apparently you can also make this custard in a blender or food processor, but if you do, don't forget to sift the flour - you don't want flour lumps in the final product!

Cut figs in half, and arrange cut side up in a buttered baking dish - either 9x9 square, or a pie dish. Gently pour the custard over figs - they'll move around a bit, so rearrange them if necessary. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until brown and puffy. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, or serve at room temperature. I found the figs not quite sweet enough, so I sprinkled the clafoutis with turbinado sugar before serving, to taste. This adds a nice crunch and sweetness. The clafouti will be very puffy and soufflĂ©-like when you take it out of the oven, but it will decrease in size after sitting a while. This doesn't affect the flavour or texture.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

dinner for a rainy day

I'm really getting into Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals. The book has a ton of great recipes, the layout is great, and the photos are gorgeous. He combines all the recipes, and does the planning for you, integrating the recipes. Start the fish! Make the salad! Check the dessert! I am so in love that I made my own menu, inspired by his cookbook.

The chowder is based on his Finnan Haddie Corn Chowder, the biscuits are from Super Natural Everyday, and the salad is my own invention. Here it is: watch my photoshop skills improving before your very eyes! I'm not gonna promise you can make this in 30 minutes. Maybe 45? It's not a race. Invite someone you love into the kitchen to be your sous chef, and have some cooking talk. It's almost as good as pillow talk.