Cherry-Apricot Clafouti: A Great Idea, a Mighty-Fine Recipe, but...

Cherry-Apricot Clafouti, Fresh from the Oven. Looks so promising!

I love cherries. I love apricots. I love clafouti. You’d think I could put them together for one amazing dessert. But alas, it didn’t work out that way.

The problem isn’t the recipe itself–which I’ve made many times. It was, alas, the apricots. The fresh apricots I found at my local supermarket here in Amerique profonde didn’t have any flavor. No amount of rich, golden custard or deeply flavored spirits—or even sugar—could change that.

So, take it from me. As always, buy local fruit if you can (alas, I don’t live the Land of Apricots). If you have to buy trucked-in fruit, buy just one piece. Go out into the parking lot. Taste it, and if it isn’t great, do not put it in your clafouti!

I’ve had fabulous luck with Washington cherries and Colorado Peaches, but the apricots: boo-hoo.

A slice of clafouti. The cherry and the custard were wonderful. Alas, the apricots....

A slice of clafouti. The cherry and the custard were wonderful. Alas, the apricots….

Coincidentally, a reader on my facebook page actually posted this query right as I was putting my clafouti in the oven:
“How do you get around the fact that fruit in the US is picked too soon and therefore has no taste!”

That, my friends, is exactly the problem.

However, please don’t let my saga stop you from making a Cherry-Apricot Clafouti if you can find great apricots. The recipe is great, as long as the fruit is great.

PS: Another reader asked if I thought a Peach-Blueberry Clafouti would work. I’d bet money it would.
Other FAQs:
Would a Cherry-Peach Clafouti work? Yes!
Would a Sour Cherry Clafouti work? I’m not so sure—clafouti itelf isn’t that sweet, so you need sweetness from the fruit to make it taste like….dessert!
How about a plum clafouti? That’s next on my list to test.
• How about a strawberry clafouti recipe? ‘Fraid not! A reader commented below that the strawberries are too soft–too liquidy: They made her clafouti into a mush (her comment is in the comment section below).

Frankly, I think any stone fruit (fruit with a pit in it–cherries, apricots, plums, peaches) or firm berries (such as blueberries) or a combination of such fruits would be lovely, as long as the fruits are fresh, flavorful, and in season. Just make sure that whatever combination of fruits you use adds up to 12 ounces (after peeling, pitting, prepping, etc.). Check out my master recipe for clafouti—just substitute your soft fresh fruit for the cherries.

I want my apricots to be this fresh, this ripe, and this local. (Photo taken in the Drome, France. Photo by Toolmantim via Flickr.

I want my apricots to be this fresh, this ripe, and this local. (Photo taken in the Drome, France. Photo by Toolmantim via Flickr).

For my next trick, I’ll answer the burning question: Can you freeze clafouti? Stay tuned!

 

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Six Easy French Salad Recipes for Late Summer

French Corn and Radish Salad Recipe

French Corn and Radish Salad Recipe

Head to the farmers market, come home, and make one of these great fresh French salads recipes. I’ve provided either the recipe itself or links with each so you can make them today. 

1. French Corn and Radish Salad Recipe

The French don’t eat sweet corn-on-the-cob with the love and gusto that we do, but they do enjoy sweet corn now and then. Here it is in a French Corn and Radish Salad–perfect for the season.

Serves 4.

3 fresh ears corn
1 garlic clove
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
3 dashes hot red pepper sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups torn fresh baby lettuces, including some spicy greens such as frisée and arugula
3/4 cup sliced radishes, preferably mild-flavored radishes
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped pitted imported black olives, such as Niçoise or Kalamata
1/4 cup snipped fines herbes, or 1/4 cup snipped parsley and chives and 1 teaspoon crushed dried tarragon.

1. Place corn in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil; cover. Turn off the burner and let corn cook in the hot water for 10 minutes. Prepare a large bowl of ice water for cooling cooked corn.

2. While corn is cooking, make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl mash the garlic clove and the salt and pepper to taste with the back of a spoon. Whisk in the vinegar and stir until salt is dissolved. Whisk in the mustard and pepper sauce, then whisk in the olive oil until incorporated. Set vinaigrette aside.

3. Plunge cooked corn into the ice water, allowing it to stand for 2 to 3 minutes or until kernels are cool. Remove ears from water, pat them dry, and scrape kernels off the cobs using a sharp knife.

4. In a medium bowl, toss the lettuces, radishes, sweet pepper, olives, herbs, and corn. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss again to serve.

Shave prep time off this easy French salad recipe by purchasing pre-cooked beets in the produce aisle of the supermarket. Photo by Richard Swearinger.

Shave prep time off this easy French salad recipe by purchasing pre-cooked beets in the produce aisle of the supermarket. Photo by Richard Swearinger.

2. French Roasted Beet Salad Recipe

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds beets (4 to 5 medium)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut or olive oil
1 cup arugula, baby greens or small, tender lettuces
1/2 cup thin slices purple onion (optional)
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
Snipped fresh chives (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Trim stems and roots from beets; peel beets. Cut beets into 1-inch pieces and place in a 13×9-inch baking pan. Toss with the olive oil; spread in pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove foil and roast for 10 to 15 minutes more or until beets are tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. In a serving bowl, whisk together garlic, salt and pepper, mustard, vinegar, and oil. Add warm beets and, if desired, sliced purple onion; toss to coat. Allow to cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes). Add baby greens; toss again. Sprinkle with blue cheese and, if you like, snipped fresh chives to serve.

3. French Chèvre Salad with Peaches, Pine Nuts, and Arugula 

Goat cheese, peaches, and arugula star in this easy French Chevre salad. Photo courtesy of Goat Cheeses of France.

Goat cheese, peaches, and arugula star in this easy French Chevre salad. Photo courtesy of Goat Cheeses of France.

It’s peach (and nectarine!) season–and both can be used in this lovely salad. Just be sure to find the freshest-best arugula you can find.

The recipe and photo are courtesy of the Goat Cheeses of France. It stars a bloomy-rind style of goat cheese, sometimes referred to as Goat Cheese Camembert or Goat Cheese Brie. You can also use French goat brique, goat chabichou or another aged goat cheese.

Serves 4.

1  1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2  1/2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 ounces arugula
2 peaches, peeled and sliced or 2 nectarines, sliced
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon thinly sliced red onion
3 1/2 ounces French goat camembert or brie

In a large bowl, add vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, whisking to combine. Add arugula, tossing to coat greens with dressing. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Add peaches, pine nuts, and onion, tossing again to combine. Divide onto 4 plates. Divide the cheese into four quarters. Slice each quarter of cheese, and place on top of each salad serving.

4. Swiss Chard Salad with Pistachios, Apples, and Roquefort

An unexpected delight for a French lunch. Photo by Richard Swearinger

Swiss Chard Salad: An unexpected delight for a French lunch. Photo by Richard Swearinger

Chard is totally in season right now at the farmers market. Take advantage.

FAQ: What does Swiss Chard taste like? Will I like it?

Answer: Do you like beets? Do you like spinach? If so, you’ll love Swiss Chard–the stems taste beet-like, while the leaves taste spinach-like, but with a depth of flavor all its own. Try it in this recipe, with some of those local apples that are just now making their way into the market.

FAQ: What do the French call Swiss Chard?

Answer: They call these lovely leaves blettes.

Here’s the link to the recipe for French Swiss Chard Salad.

One of France’s favorite ways with Swiss Chard is in a Tourte de Blettes (Swiss Chard Pie). See my recipe for Tourte de Blettes on my friend Richard Nahem’s site, EyePreferParis.com.

5. French Tomato and Green Bean Salad

Yes! This is even better with cute little haricot-verts. But you also can't go wrong with some great locally grown green beans.

Yes! This is even better with cute little haricot-verts. But you also can’t go wrong with some great locally grown green beans.

I recently posted five easy French recipes for tomatoes, and judging from the number of times that this easy French salad recipe was  pinned, I think this was the winner!

6. French Green Bean Salad Recipe with Caprese

French Green Bean Salad Recipe with Caprese (or, if you flavor it with French herbs, call it Caprice!)

French Green Bean Salad Recipe with Caprese (or, if you flavor it with French herbs, call it Caprice!)

At first glance, this is similar to #5, but while #5 is perfect side to a grilled or roasted meat, the Caprese could make salad No. 6 into a main dish. Simply add some bread and maybe cured meats, and call it dinner.

For four servings:

1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onions
Caprese/Caprice
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the green beans in boiling salted water for 5 to 10 minutes or until barely tender. Drain well, then sauté the beans in 2 tablespoons olive oil with the garlic and green onions until crisp tender. Serve with Caprese salad, and season all to taste.

Note: You probably don’t need a recipe for Caprese salad, but allow me to remind you that it’s all about the best ingredients you can find. Layer heirloom tomatoes withfresh mozzarella. Drizzle with a great olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh herbs (basil is traditional, though I also enjoy any fines herbes (tarragon, parsley, chives) on this as well).

Enjoy the late-summer bounty!

 
PS: Find more recipes in my book,The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day.

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Colorado Peach Clafouti à la Bonne Femme

It’s peach season, and the best peaches in the world—Colorado Peaches—are in markets now. Transform them into a terrific peach clafouti with my easy Colorado Peach Clafouti recipe.

Colorado Peach Clafouti à la Bonne Femme

Colorado Peach Clafouti à la Bonne Femme

Hello mes chèrs. The other day, I was all about Cherry Clafouti. Then, yesterday I went to the market and what did I find? Colorado peaches! I could see no reason why they wouldn’t make a terrific peach clafouti, and I was right.

While I was making this recipe, I had a major culinary epiphany: A clafouti brings all the wonderful flavors of crêpes—without the hassle of standing there and making a bunch of crêpes. Think about it: Crêpes have flour, sugar, milk and butter. Clafouti has flour, sugar, milk, and cream (which, as we all know, is what butter is made from). Now, in my book, crêpes are easy, but all the things you love about crêpes—the richness, the butteriness, the sweetness—comes a lot easier in a clafouti.

My Cherry Clafouti Recipe and my Peach Clafouti Recipe go head to heat. Both are easy. And I'm equally proud of both.

My Cherry Clafouti Recipe and my Peach Clafouti Recipe go head to head. Both are easy. And I’m equally proud of both.

The only question is this: Should you make a Cherry Clafouti or a Peach Clafouti? Truth be told, Dave (Mr. Sportcoat) liked the cherry clafouti better—he liked the way the firm cherries contrasted the softer custard. I give the Peach Clafouti the edge—I love the way the sweet custard brought out the bright, almost citrusy side of the peaches. It made the dessert both rich and refreshing—two qualities I love in a dessert. Why not try both?

My Peach Clafouti may not be as dramatic- looking as the Cherry Clafouti...but it's equally winning.

My Peach Clafouti may not be as dramatic- looking as the Cherry Clafouti…but it’s equally winning.

Colorado Peach Clafouti à la Bonne Femme

For the liqueur, you could use peach brandy, but I don’t want you buying an entire bottle of something you won’t use up. If you have any kirsch leftover from the Cherry Clafouti, use that, or any other fruit liqueur that you might have on hand. (I happened to have a bottle of Grand Marnier Cerise–a cherry-flavored Cognac-based spirit that complemented the peach dessert just fine).

PS: No, you don’t have to use Colorado Peaches….any great, ripe peaches will do.

Makes 6 servings

12 ounces peeled, sliced, pitted ripe peaches (about 4 large peaches)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon peach brandy or other fruit liqueur (see headnote)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Sweetened Spiked Whipped Cream (see recipe, below)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter and sugar a 9-inch round nonmetal baking dish with 2-inch sides.

2. Spread the peaches in the baking dish. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, liqueur, and salt on medium speed until well combined. Slowly beat in the flour, milk, and cream until combined. Pour the batter over the peaches.

3. Bake until a thin knife inserted near the center of the clafouti comes out nearly clean (a few crumbs are fine) and the top is a deep golden color, about 35 to 40 minutes. If the top is brown before the custard is done, loosely cover with a sheet of foil. Place on a wire rack to cool, but serve warm. Just before serving, dust the top of the clafouti with confectioners’ sugar. Slice into wedges and serve with Sweetened Spiked Whipped Cream.

Sweetened Spiked Whipped Cream: Place 3/4 cup cold heavy cream into a chilled mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 2 teaspoons peach brandy or other fruit liqueur. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

PS? If you happen to try them both, let me know which one you liked best.

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