Tuesday, January 22, 2008

anything-but-clementine clafoutis

clementine segments

Sometimes I cook things even though I have significant doubts that they will be in any way delicious. Why is this, how is this so, you ask? Because I live in a mental place I affectionately call Hope. I wish to be surprised. I aspire to be wrong from time to time (though not, as Alex can but probably will not argue, because he is polite, too often, and certainly not if it would make him right) because if the sum of the parts that together comprise the world as I know it is all there is, I’d be kind of bummed. I’d be kind of bored.

clementines

Often enough, things exceed my expectations. There are better-than-Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soups, there is Fennel Ice Cream and Red Velvet Cake and, loudest as of late, there is brining.

clementine clafoutis

And then there are the other times that my hunches are actually-spot on, such as a recent one that whole segments of citrus fruit should not be baked. They they can be juiced, they can be zested and, most gloriously, they can be pureed whole into tarts and sorbets, but baked, just plain old baked, their segment skins become dry and papery and their lovely fruit within gets a bitter tang and you, if you are like me, will likely wish you had just eaten them when they were at their most tempting.

I’m not too bummed, however, as I may or may not, have picked most of the segments off my slice and just eaten the delicious baked custard underneath. Furthermore, this means that I am due for a recipe that proves my skepticism wrong, and, oh, I really hope it is these Italian pretzels.

clementine clafoutis

One year ago: Deb Three-Bean Chili, Corn Bread with Cheddar, Jalapeno and Green Onions, Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Mushrooms [Hibernation Fare]

Anything-But-Clementine Clafoutis
Adapted from The New York Times 1/9/08

As noted above, I did not care one bit for the baked clementine suggested in the original recipe, but this doesn’t make clafoutis any less of a delicious dessert. Here are some fruits I would consider using instead: cherries, blue-, heck, any berries, grapes, thin slices of apples or pear and if you are really itching for summer, perhaps you can find some not-too-sordid plums or peaches.

Serves at least six

Butter as needed
1/2 cup flour, more for dusting pan
3 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used milk)
3/4 cup milk
Dash of flavoring, such as almond or vanilla extract, a liqueur or brandy (optional)
About 3 cups of fruit (sliced pears or apples or any of the others listed above)
Powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a gratin dish, about 9 by 5 by 2 inches, or a 10-inch round deep pie plate or porcelain dish, by smearing it with butter, just a teaspoon or so. Dust it with flour, rotating pan so flour sticks to all the butter; invert dish to get rid of excess.

2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Add 1/2 cup flour, and whisk until smooth. Add granulated sugar and salt and whisk until combined. Add cream and milk and whisk until smooth.

3. Layer fruit over bottom of the dish. Pour batter over fruit to as close to top of dish as you dare; you may have a little leftover batter, depending on size of your dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until clafoutis is nicely browned on top and a knife inserted into it comes out clean. Sift some powdered sugar over it and serve warm or at room temperature. Clafoutis does not keep (not sure I agree with this); serve within a couple of hours of making it.


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