Thursday, July 7, 2011

Catching Up Part III: Baking in Normandy

Where the skies look like this....
     OK, so I'm obviously easing back into this blogging thing rather slowly. I skipped yesterday, bad me bad me. But hey! I also started my summer job. That counts for something, doesn't it? I'm doing research at a hospital. It's amazing how important getting a badge with your photo on it and carrying big stacks of paper around can make you feel. But enough of that, you are here for the food. Right?

The beams in the kitchen looked like gingerbread :)
     So, surprising though it may seem, I did cook in France! And no, it didn't just consist of pasta and pasta salad and epic cheese plates. I made clafoutis! You may ask one of two questions: what is clafoutis? or why would you be making that in France? Well, it is a French dish, for one thing. Clafoutis (or clafouti as it is sometimes spelled) is traditionally cherries baked in a custard-like batter. It comes out rather like a more cake-y flan. It is a lovely light dessert, and one that is ridiculously easy to make.

    
     As to why I made clafoutis, there is a very simple reason for that. CV has trees in his backyard in the farmhouse in Normandy, some of those trees are cherry trees, and one evening we felt the urge to go up into those trees and pick lots and lots of cherries. The first cherry picking stage involved some people going up into one tree and throwing down cherries, the second involved everyone being up in the tree and trying to reach the cherries, and the third involved very tall ladders. In case you cannot tell, we accumulated quite a mountainful of cherries, even discounting all the ones we ate fresh off the branches. Also discounting the cows who huddled around our tree and ladder and looked at us most mournfully, probably wondering what kinds of silly humans had decided to play at being birds.

The farmhouse - unfortunately I took no pictures of trees
     So, we re-entered the house, and I was struck by an urge to bake. The two CVs (did I tell you the fifth person is our party also had the initials CV? It is most frustrating from my standpoint, but luckily I can just lump the two of them together. Yay for my two CVs!) got to cutting the cherries in half and de-pitting them. I kind of sort of looked at this clafoutis recipe in an old cookbook in the farmhouse, and then went my own merry way. What resulted was the kind of dessert I kept taking too many helpings of, light and not too sweet and full of the lovely flavor of cherries. It may not be a traditional clafoutis, but I am still daydreaming about it at work...

Improvised Clafoutis

For the Cherries: 

1 1/2 cup Cherries, Cut in half and De-pitted
1/4 cup Rum
2 tbsp Water
3 tbsp or more Sugar

Add the cherries, rum, water, and sugar to a medium-sized saucepan at medium-heat. Stir everything together well, and allow the mixture to cook until the cherries are softened and the alcohol and water have mostly evaporated (you don't have to evaporate off all the liquid, you can use it to make a sauce! like me). When the mixture is not smelling so strongly of rum anymore, you are probably close to done. You should taste test it, if the cherries were not sweet and the mixture tastes bitter, add a tablespoon or two more of sugar. Once the cherries are soft, remove the mixture from the heat.

For the Clafoutis:

1 1/2 cup Prepared Cherries
2 Eggs, Separated
1 cup Milk
1/4 tsp Salt 
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Flour 

Butter an 8'' round glass baking dish and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread most of the hot cherries on the bottom of the dish, and allow them to cool. Leave a couple of the cherries and any remaining liquid in the saucepan for sauce-making later. In one bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Then, whisk in the flour and salt until everything is combined. In a separate bowl, whisk (not by hand hopefully, because that is a pain) the egg whites until they have peaks. Fold them into the other mixture slowly until both are combined. Then, pour the liquid mixture carefully over the cherries, so that all the fruit is covered. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and a knife comes out clean.

For the Sauce (Optional)

Remaining liquid from the cherries 
2-3 Softened Cherries
2 tbsp Blueberry Jam 

Place the saucepan with the little remaining water and rum mixture and a couple of cherries back on medium heat. Squish the cherries against the side of the saucepan and mix them into the liquid. Then, add the jam. Mix everything together thoroughly, and reduce the heat. Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat until it has thickened and turned into a lovely sauce to top your piece of clafoutis with.

2 comments:

  1. hi there. so clafouti is my favorite dessert possibly. i make it every year. did CV tell you? did you leave me any cherries? also, for the next time, we have cherry pitters at the house, because, you know, i like clafouti. lol.

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  2. CV did not tell me! Tsk tsk. We should have frozen some for you (clafoutis and cherries). That kitchen is ridiculously well equipped. I want to go back and explore more T_T I hope you go there and make clafoutis tooo

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