It’s that time of year when I find myself… ourselves sort of wandering around the house. Trying to stay warm… or cool, depending on who you are. Are we the only ones who have thermostat wars? I hate heat and my husband is always shivering. We’ve gotten back into the swing of things with school after a looooooong Morning-Sickness-meets-Christmas-Break. I’m cooking like a madwoman after months away from my favourite hobby.
It’s so therapeutic.
After being curled up on my couch for months it IS therapeutic. The Twirl. The back and forth from the stove top to the sink and back again. When you feel well you take everything for granted. Everything. Or at least I do.
I’m mentally gearing up for spring.
Looking for feeder pigs online. Waiting for seed catalogues to start arriving. Entertaining the possibility of a trip to Door Country this summer (with a newborn). This favourite place on earth (aside from France of course) haunts my mind. Will we move there? Will that dream farm I found go back on the market when the time is right for us? Will we camp? Will we find a summer house to rent? I love to dream and this little peninsula occupies much of my dreams.
When we go and they’re in season, we pick cherries.
They are Juliette’s passion. She always insists that we pick and one year we found the best little place. Quiet… and affordable. We brought home an obscene amount and I used them to rig up this recipe that was sadly cut from the cookbook in an effort to save space. THOSE were hard decisions but the book HAD to stay under 214 pages. So let’s do it now!
Savory Cherry Clafoutis
with Balsamic Whipped Cream
The roots of the clafoutis are in Limousine and Alsace Lorraine, France. Being that my Great-Great-Grandmother is from Alsace I thought I should master the clafoutis but I wanted to do something different. It was July and we had just returned from Door Country with a glut of freshly picked cherries, my favourite balsamic vinegar and my herb garden was overflowing with thyme. That was all the inspiration I needed.
I’ve tried a lot of clafoutis in an effort to create my own and I have to say that the actual cooking method of Julia Child’s is my favourite so that is what I have done here. I’m a sucker for popular dishes with a twist so I added thyme because it’s a lovely herb to complement the cherries and having been on a Door County kick I had to employ the use of my favourite 25-year-old balsamic vinegar. Dang – the Oilerie in Fish Creek needs some sort of a commission plan for junkies like me because I am forever preaching the balsamic gospel! It’s so good. And don’t even get me started on their truffle-infused olive oil.
You will need:
- 1 pound of ripe cherries (thawed or fresh)
- 1 lemon, lemon juice for sprinkling over cherries, lemon zest for the recipe
- 1 1/4 cups of milk
- 1/2 cup of sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 4 eggs, divided ( 3 whole eggs for the recipe and reserve the egg white of the fourth for the whipped cream)
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/8 teaspoon finely ground pepper
- 1/4 cup butter, melted plus more for prepping your dish
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (Madagascar Bourbon is my preference)
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon of fresh thyme
- Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Liberally butter a shallow stove and oven-safe dish (like a Corningware).
Pit the cherries by hand, using the patience of your handsome son like I did or with a pitter.
Put the cherries in a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice, set aside. Sift dry ingredients together and slowly add the milk. Then add the lemon zest, eggs, vanilla, thyme and black pepper. Blend until smooth. And now, in the method of Julia Child as found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, pour a small amount (about a 1/4 inch of batter) into the dish.
Set over a low flame on the stovetop for a couple minutes until a “film of batter has set”. Place the cherries across the dish and pour the remaining batter over the top.
Place in your preheated oven and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until the edges curl or puff. Do not over-cook your clafoutis or it will become rubbery. It should be flan-like. Sprinkle with a little sugar before serving. It should be served warm.
To make the Balsamic Whipped Cream:
You will need:
- 1 pint of heavy cream
- 3-4 tablespoons of powdered sugar
- 1 egg white (This is a trick from my Great-Gramma and it prevents the whipped cream from separating and turning runny if refrigerated.)
With your stand mixer or hand mixer mix whipping cream on high with the powdered sugar. When peaks begin to form mix in the egg white until thoroughly blended. Fold in one tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar (or to taste).
I hope you enjoy this dessert. It’s different. It’s fun. And like the recipe says, “savory”.
Another winter day down… about 7 weeks to go. And then bring on those tulips and the big baby belly. In the meantime, I wonder what else I can make?