Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis is the flan of France, basically. I’m on some kind of French dessert kick lately (though I guess I’m always, to some extent, on a French dessert kick) and I just happened to have handpicked cherries in the freezer, so it’s only natural that I toss a good heap of them into some batter and make a morning of it.

Clafoutis is all custardy and egg-like, certainly, but–and here’s why I love it–unlike flan, it is usually loaded with fruit. I’ve made a few clafoutis now (I once made one with strawberries that got the approval of a French girl, which is maybe saying something), but if you’re going for tradition, you’ve got to use cherries.

Thankfully, the French like to keep it simple and insist that the cherries remain unpitted. This is excellent, because I do not own a cherry pitter and I had already spent much of my time slicing and removing pits to make cherry jam. I was not in the mood for more. The reasoning, or so it goes, is that the pits impart a nice almond- flavor into the clafoutis, and I have to say, removing them with your teeth is well worth that slight amaretto after-taste.

CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups of cherries
powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cream the sugar and eggs until they turn lighter in color. Gradually add in the melted butter, beating to incorporate. Add the flour all at once and blend until the batter is a homogeneous mixture.

Slowly pour in the milk and vanilla, whisking to combine. The batter should be very smooth and shiny.

Place cherries (unpitted) in the bottom of a buttered pie dish. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until slightly browned and almost completely set in the middle. Top with powdered sugar and serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

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Strawberry Tart

I’ll just get this out of the way. As a food gal who waxes on about making everything from scratch and “adds ten steps to everything”, as my friend so kindly put it, it pains me greatly to admit that this is a store-bought crust. (I know!! I’m so sorry.) As much as I laud the benefits of a handmade crust, I can’t much help but be turned off by the amount of time and work–and messy kitchen-ness–that comes from chopping cold butter into flour and pounding it onto the counter over and again. (Very) occasionally, things are better pre-packaged. Particularly when it opens up your afternoon to do things like grill shrimp and make tacos.

Which makes this recipe super easy, since it’s really just glorified whipped cream sprinkled with fresh strawberries that spent the better part of their morning soaking in red wine. I’m a sucker for homemade whipped cream, and it’s so absurdly simple that I’m compelled to make it more often than I actually do. (Sometimes the question ends up being, “What can I make that will pair well with whipped cream?” instead of the other way around.) My favorite version involves a sprinkle of cinnamon, but for strawberries I stuck with vanilla beans, vanilla extract and a generous spoonful of sugar.

Like an off-ratio version of strawberry shortcake, this dessert–eaten for lunch outside in the sun–was a surprisingly light mealtime accompaniment. All the more reason for seconds.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

STRAWBERRY TART

1 pound strawberries, hulled

1/2 cup red wine

1 pie or tart shell, baked

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 vanilla bean, seeded

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon sugar

Place hulled strawberries in red wine and allow to marinate for at least two hours. In the meantime, bake the pie shell (or make your own, if you’re feeling ambitious.) Remove from oven and allow to cool.

When ready to serve, place whipping cream in mixer and beat on high until peaks begin to form. Add vanilla bean seeds, extract and sugar, and continue to beat until peaks are stiff.

Fill bottom of pie/tart shell with whipped cream and top with sliced strawberries. Serve!

 

 

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Peach Dumplings

PEACH COBBLER

 

 

 

 

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Blueberry Gingerbread

I hate to call this a “freebie” recipe, but I don’t know what else to say about a dish I made prior to Christmas and failed to write any sort of descriptor for in the five months since.

During my hiatus, I did manage to eat/capture a few stellar desserts, and this happened to be one. I did not, however, do anything else with them. I do recall this being delicious and a bit on the spicy side. Almost a breakfast cake, but good at any time of day, really. That’s all I’ve got, though.

Anyway, here you go. Trust me, it’s good.

BLUEBERRY GINGERBREAD

(via Better Homes and Gardens)

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup applesauce

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x3x5 bread pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, salt and baking soda and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and both sugars; add applesauce.  Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Pour into greased bread pan and baking for 40-50 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Tomato and Peach Salad with Corn, Basil and Goat Cheese

Friday off and a good dose of local food. I can work that.

TOMATO AND PEACH SALAD WITH CORN, BASIL AND GOAT CHEESE

(adapted from the Wall Street Journal)

1 ear fresh corn

1 pint cherry heirloom tomatoes

2 large ripe peaches (1½-2 pounds)

½ cup thinly sliced red onion or shallot

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Cover corn, unshucked, with damp paper towel and microwave for one minute. Let sit for five minutes.

Slice peaches and tomatoes and red onion and place in a large bowl. Shuck and slice corn off of the cob. Add to bowl. Add chopped basil and a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Stir.

Serve on a small bed of spinach. Top with goat cheese and chopped walnuts.

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Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Muffins

Freebie post. I don’t think these need much explaining, anyway.

GRAHAM CRACKER CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

(via How Sweet It Is)

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoons salt

½ cups sugar

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup milk

⅓ cups canola oil

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cups milk chocolate chips

For the topping:

¼ cups flour

¼ cups light brown sugar

¼ cups graham cracker crumbs

½ teaspoons cinnamon

3 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with liners or spray well with cooking spray and set aside.

For the muffins, in a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and graham cracker crumbs until blended. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir in by hand. Fill each muffin liner or tin with 1 scoop, about 2/3 full.

For the topping, in a bowl mix the flour, brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and stir to combine all the dry ingredients well. Add the melted butter and mix well until crumbly and looking like wet sand.

Top each muffin with 1 heaping tablespoon of crumb topping. Bake for 16-19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

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Lavender Vanilla Raw Chocolate

Here’s why it’s not good to get bored at work:

Any extended downtime I have, though rare, becomes a stroll through food blog after food blog, tagging, starring, bookmarking, etc.–whatever suits my fancy in the hopes that I’ll buckle down and make it some weekend. (That list is very long.)

But when I spotted chocolate, my inner-DIY girl perked up. Raw chocolate? Cacao powder? Where do I sign up?

The list of ingredients, though brief, left me a little boggled. I called at least two health food stores looking for the creamy chunks of cacao butter I would need, only to come up empty-handed. Thankfully, an organic beauty shop down the street–and a confirmation from the depths of Google–told me that the 100% cacao butter they sold for me to rub all over my body could also be used to make chocolate–and so off we went to Whole Foods to procure the remaining ingredients.

The process ended up being relatively easy but messy, as double broiling usually is. I do wish I had picked another flavor than lavender, as it really just reminded me that I was eating a tub of body butter. It is good, though, and good for you, in a healthy-fats sort of way. Once chilled in the refrigerator the texture become similar to a normal chocolate bar, though a little softer due to the dates.

The genius of making your own chocolate lies in the endless tailoring options it provides. The blog I nabbed the recipe from, Earthsprout, suggests the following–so dream away and get baking!

1. Lavender & Vanilla: a couple pinches dried lavender + 1 extra vanilla bean, scraped
2. Lemon & Sea Salt: zest of one lemon + an extra pinch sea salt
3. Smoky Spice: a couple pinches ground cinnamon + chipotle.
4. Ginger & Coconut: a couple pinches ground ginger + a sprinkling of shredded coconut
5. Lime & Cardamom: zest of one lime + a couple pinches cardamom
6. Spicy Orange: zest of 1 organic lemon+ a pinch of chili powder
7. Rose love: a few drops of rose essential oil + dried rose petals for decoration
8. Crunchy Mint: a few drops of mint essential oil + 1 Tbsp. unhulled hemp seeds

LAVENDER VANILLA RAW CHOCOLATE

(via Earthsprout)

30 g / 1oz raw cacao powder

100 g / 3.5 oz very soft, pitted dates

85 g / 3 oz cacao butter

1 vanilla bean, scraped

pinch of flaky sea salt

2 tsp dried lavender

Begin by blending dates in a food processor until finely ground. (Do not soak dates, as the water will cause the chocolate to seize up.)

In a double boiler over low-medium heat, melt the cacao butter slowly until completely smooth. Add the cacao powder, vanilla, salt, and lavender, and stir to thoroughly combine. Remove from heat.

Add the dates and fold to combine. Blend in a food processor, if necessary. Taste for sweetness and flavoring.

Once the chocolate is cool and you can form a rough ball with it, divide the chocolate in half and place one section on a piece of parchment paper. Fold the parchment paper over the chocolate once and use your hands to mash it down into a thin piece. At this point you can fold the remaining sides up around the chocolate to create a bar and press the chocolate into the corners. Place in the fridge or a cool place to firm up. Repeat with the other half. Store chocolate in a cool, dry place away from direct light.

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Cherry and Apricot Galette

I’m pretty convinced at this point that coconut butter is God’s culinary gift to mankind. Eaten in spoonfuls out of the jar, spread onto toast, or baked in with a few cups of flour and sugar, as is the case here, coconut butter is possibly the richest spread available after butter. And it is SO. GOOD.

My newest roommate has an equally ambitious penchant for baking/cooking/hanging out in the kitchen, and made this one night with a bucketful of plums and apricots. I had just gone cherry pickin’ and so I did a little substituting, but the original was so wonderful that immediately after hers was finished, I made one myself.

The original recipe calls for coconut oil, which may end up being a better alternative, if you have it. I was without, however, and coconut butter served me just fine. I may also have tripled the amount of poppy seeds called for, but honestly, is there ever a reason to go light on poppy seeds? Or spices in general?

Whichever fruits you’ve spent the early days of summer salivating over–be they cherries, strawberries, or peaches–I promise they’ll do quite nicely resting in this wholesome, crumbly, poppy-seed laden, coconut-sweetened crust. Load ‘em up!

CHERRY AND APRICOT GALETTE

(adapted from My New Roots)

For the crust:
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup rye flour
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
½ cup coconut butter, very cold
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup ice water

For the filling:

1 cup apricots, pitted and sliced

1 cup cherries, pitted and halved

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rye flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ tsp. thyme

In a food processor pulse the rolled until they are finely ground and resemble flour. Add rye flour, poppy seeds, and pulse everything to combine.  Add cold coconut oil and pulse until the mix has a sandy consistency. Add honey, pulse, then slowly dribble in the water one tablespoon at a time just until the dough comes together.

Empty the food processor onto a piece of plastic wrap, knead until it barely comes together. Roughly form a disc. Wrap with plastic film and place in refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Pit and slice the cherries and apricots, then place in a bowl with flour, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, and thyme. Gently toss to coat and set aside.

Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap it, and place on a large piece of parchment paper. Roll out the dough as circularly as possible, to about 1/8 inch thickness. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place fruit in a ring formation or in rows, overlapping them slightly. Fold the edges up around the fruit in a shape you like. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the crust is golden brown and crispy. 

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Asparagus, Strawberry and Goat Cheese Tart

I’m going to be so disappointed when spring’s delicious batch of asparagus is finally considered “out of season.” It’s officially on its way out, but I haven’t quite had my fill and am supremely wary of the thick-stumped imported substitutes headed our way. Even my conventional grocery store has been stocking the tiniest of local sprigs, so sweet you can hardly believe you’re eating a vegetable (not that that would ever be a bad thing.)

In celebration of the season’s finest, I paired them with strawberries–another goner–and goat cheese in a crust-heavy tart that hit a load of tastebuds. It’s also simple (+1), French (+1) and kinda good for you in a whole-foods sort of way (+1.) We have a winner!

In retrospect, I would have added a few more eggs and thrown this into a pie pan, effectively making it more of a quiche and taking the pastry-to-egg ratio a little over the halfway mark. I love a good crust, but I also wouldn’t have minded a little more filling. Ya feel?

Either way, the resulting tart sure is a beauty. It basically screams dinner party hors d’oeuvres (or just dinner) and is almost, cliche as it may be, too pretty to eat. Almost.

Bonus: If you make the crust recipe below, you may end up with extra dough…all the reason to throw them into little custard dishes and have yourself a blueberry pie (or two), as I did. Just a thought!

ASPARAGUS, STRAWBERRY AND GOAT CHEESE TART

(Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini)

For the crust:

1 1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon sugar

5 tablespoons cold butter, sliced

1 egg

1/2 tablespoon ice water

For the filling:

3 eggs

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 small bunch asparagus

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

handful of strawberries (5 or 6?), slices thinly

3 ounces goat cheese, sliced

salt

pepper

For the crust, combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add cold butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Whisk egg and ice water, add gradually. Roll into ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Once chilled, remove plastic wrap and place on floured surface and use a rolling pin to smooth dough into a very thin (1/8-inch) layer. Place into tart pan and remove edges.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium pan, saute asparagus lightly in olive oil just until tender. While cooking, whisk eggs and cream together until smooth. Add salt. Once asparagus has finished cooking, pour egg mixture into tart pan. Add asparagus spears and strawberries in a decorative layer on top, following with goat cheese slices. Sprinkle with pepper.

Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, until egg has set and cheese has just begun to brown and bubble. 

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Avocado Asparagus Tartine

I can’t say it enough: these are amazing. Though the proposed combination of ingredients sounds a little strange (I think we can all agree they’re each delicious on their own), the resulting tartine, or open-faced sandwich, or smörgås, or whatever you’d like to call it is….amazing. Healthy vegetarian lunches have never been so delicious.

I made these a few weekends ago and have made them every Saturday since. For one, asparagus is in season and the tiny little spears you see below are so sweet and tender you could eat them raw if you so chose. I grabbed a loaf of pumpernickel bread on a whim, craving the sweetness not found in your standard whole grains, and thought it paired nicely with the subdued flavors of the other toppings. After throwing in some filling avocado and fatty almonds this “snack” turned into a “meal” that kept my stomach nice and quiet until dinner.

Throw a few slabs together and munch away!

AVOCADO ASPARAGUS TARTINE

(via 101 Cookbooks)

4 pieces of whole grain bread, toasted

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb of asparagus stalks, trimmed roughly the length of your bread
1 clove garlic, chopped

1 avocado, pitted and smashed
a couple handfuls of watercress

a handful of toasted almonds

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the asparagus and saute just until tender.  Add the garlic and cook another thirty seconds, until the spears are a vibrant green. Remove from heat, and assemble the tartines.

Give each piece of bread a generous slather of mashed avocado. Top with watercress, asparagus, and toasted almonds.

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