Thursday, July 23, 2009
While it isn’t confirmed, I always suspected that my grandmother Louise might have had a love affair with Jacques Pepin. I am not sure if she ever met Jacques in person, but I do know, at the very least, that she was very much in love with his cooking. Of course, he’s not too bad looking either and I’m sure his wife of 40+ years, Gloria, thinks so too.
I have no real evidence of a love affair. It’s not like I ever caught them whisk deep in the béarnaise or anything, but she often referenced him when showing me the proper way to cut a chicken or temper chocolate. While Louise wasn’t exactly a woman who waxes poetic, she did have a way of looking at you that conveyed “there is more to this story, and rest assured it is a little tawdry.”
Louise was a risk taker. She loved to ski, (even after breaking many bones) she traveled the world, and drove a red Corvette. But mostly, she loved to cook. She loved taking dishes from her travels and eating experiences and re-creating them in her kitchen at home. With her grandchildren, Louise was generous and patient. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen “playing” and creating meals to share with our loved ones. She always put as much into a breakfast after a sleepover as she did for a family holiday… well -- as much love, if not effort. Besides her chocolate cake, German pancake, mazzoball soup, and a plethora of other dishes, I loved her Clafoutis.
Clafoutis (cla-fou-tee) is a custard-like French dessert typically made by baking fresh fruit (traditionally cherries) and a batter somewhat similar to pancake batter, in a baking dish. It can be served for dessert or breakfast, but my personal favorite is around 4pm after a long day of swimming and playing in the backyard. (Oh man, my sense memory is going crazy!) It's also a great way to use slightly over ripened fruit.
Also, in case you were wondering, I am working on my “there is more to this story, and rest assured it is a little tawdry” side-glance.
Louise’s Fresh Fruit Clafoutis
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup sugar + more for ramekin
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2-ish cups fresh fruit cut into small pieces (berries, peaches, plums, cherries, strawberries, whatever you desire)
• Heat oven to 400°F. Butter four 3 ½ - inch ramekins and dust with sugar.
• Whisk egg until frothy and add sugar, half and half and vanilla extract; mix to combine.
• Add the all purpose flour and whisk very well.
• Divide the fruit into the ramekins and pour the batter over the fruit.
Bake for 25-50 minutes until golden brown and the middle is set.
The custard will soufflé up and then when you take it out of the oven it will fall back down.
Serve the Clafoutis warm or room temperature either inside or removed from the ramekins.