Search Results for: clafoutis

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Many, many eons ago, while I was studying French at university, I spent a year working as an English assistant in a couple of schools in the South West of France. Aside from this being one of the most enjoyable and formative years of my life, it was also remarkable from a culinary perspective. The other teachers were incredibly kind (mindful I think of their own time spent as French assistants in England) and would invite me often to their houses, and I also ended up giving lots of private English lessons, of the ‘chat in English to little Jean-Pierre for an hour, then join us for a dip in the pool and supper’ variety.

It was a lovely life, and also meant that I ended up dining in French people’s houses once or twice a week. Which was eye-opening. You learn a lot by seeing what people eat for reals – not in a restaurant or in a cooking class and when they’re not particularly trying to impress.

And I learned that in the South West of France, in summer, people eat a heck of a lot of clafoutis. Mostly made with cherries, but occasionally with the other stone fruits and berries of summer. And not surprisingly, because clafoutis is both super delicious and very easy to make.

If you search for ‘clafoutis’ on this blog you’ll see that it’s something I make a lot in the summer, and in fact I’ve posted the recipe before. But I made some beautiful mini mixed fruit ones last summer and never posted the pictures, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I post the recipe again, with some adaptations for minis.

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

First up get yourself a quantity of the most beautiful fruit you can find – cherries, apricots, currants, peaches and plums all work well. I used a mix of red and yellow cherries, apricots and redcurrants. The exact amount is a bit difficult to specify but should be enough to cover the bottom of the dishes you will be using. Clafoutis can be made in any shallow ovenproof dish. This recipe makes enough for the large dish shown here or for approximately 6 largeish ramekins.

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

 

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis
Serves 6
Mini mixed fruit version of the traditional French clafoutis
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. Enough fruit to cover the bottom of your dish(es) in a single layer
  2. Enough butter to thoroughly grease your dish(es)
  3. 5 tablespoons all-purpose/plain flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  6. 5 large eggs
  7. 2 cups/500ml/16 fl oz single cream or half and half or creamy milk or a mixture of milk and heavy/double cream, depending on how decadent/slim/rich you’re feeling
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  9. 2 tablespoons dark rum, kirsch, Armagnac or maraschino (optional)
  10. Enough granulated or powdered sugar to dredge thickly when cooked
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180degrees C/Gas Mark 4
  2. Remove stems and pit fruit if necessary. The French often leave the pits in cherries as they're said to add an additional almond flavour to the batter (but warn your guests!) If using apricots or larger fruits slice them in half.
  3. Slather your dish with butter and add the fruit in a single layer
  4. In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients
  5. Warm the milk or cream until barely simmering (be vigilant, it mustn't boil)
  6. Whisk the eggs into the warm cream
  7. Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until well-blended
  8. Stir in the the vanilla and rum etc. if using.
  9. Strain the batter over the fruit (very often I can’t be bothered to strain it) to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. You should still be able to see the top of the fruit over the batter.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes for small clafoutis, 40 minutes for large until golden round the edges and firm to the touch
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Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here are my little clafoutis showing the depth and proportion of batter to fruit you should be aiming for. Clafoutis is very forgiving, so make them in any shapes and sizes of cookware you have to hand until you have used up all your batter. 

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

 Here are my lovelies puffing up and firming up in the oven. 

And here they are all ready to eat. Serve with some chilled cream or creme fraiche if you’re feeling luxurious but it’s really not at all necessary. 

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Dear hearts I am back!

If you haven’t been following along on Instagram (Sheesh, Paola, we have LIVES), we’ve just been on a family vacation to Rome, Sardinia, Corsica and an afternoon in England. And it was lovely. Though at the same time I am glad to be back sleeping in my very own bed for a bit and able to enjoy the rollicking Seattle summer.

I do of course have many, MANY photos to share with you, together with more from Tuscany (you didn’t think you’d be getting off THAT lightly did you?). You have been warned.

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Recipe of the Week – Cherry Clafoutis

 

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Apologies for the light posting of late – the Minx is only doing morning camp this week, so I don’t have so much free time. The good news is that the interminable summer holidays are coming to an end in less than two weeks, may the Lord and all the angels be praised. Call me a bad mother but I am counting the seconds. America, is ELEVEN weeks of summer vacation REALLY necessary?

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But I digress.

For a brief moment at the end of the cherry season in the UK, the market in Portobello Road was full of deep, dark, rich, ridiculously expensive cherries, the colour of the very best red wine, marked ‘USA”. I used to look forward to those cherries all year.

Little did I know then that the chances were that those cherries came from Washington state and that I would one day be living in a place where the farmers’ markets would be heaving with them. Apparently it’s something to do with the climate and the volcanic soil, but they truly are the best cherries I’ve ever tasted.

Last week was pretty much the end of this year’s Washington cherry season, so I seized the opportunity to make a clafoutis. I first ate (an awful lot of) clafoutis in the South of France when I was teaching there as part of my university degree and every year since then I’ve made it religiously when cherry season comes around.

The recipe I’ve found which seems to me to be the most authentic comes from my ancient battered copy of Paula Wolfert’s the Cooking of South West France which has apparently been recently reissued.

I’ve doubled the quantities she gives to make enough to fit my 34 cm x 20 cm ( 13ins x 8ins). You don’t need to get too precious about the quantities – you just need enough batter to almost cover the cherries.

Ingredients

- Enough cherries to completely cover the bottom of your dish. Many people in France don’t stone their cherries which makes it much easier to prepare but a bit of a pain to eat. I stone my cherries if I’m feeling posh. You could also use apricots or pears – any fruit that doesn’t get too soft in cooking.

- Enough butter to grease your dish

- 5 tbsps plain/all-purpose flour

- 1/2 tsp salt

- 4 tbps granulated sugar

- 5 large eggs

16 fl oz /500 ml/ 2 cups single cream or half and half or creamy milk or a mixture of milk and heavy/double cream, depending on how decadent/slim you’re feeling

- 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract

- 2 tbsps dark rum, kirsch, Armagnac (optional, I prefer it without)

- enough granulated sugar to dredge thickly when cooked

 

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Method

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180degrees C/Gas Mark 4

- Remove stems and pit fruit if necessary, if using apricots or larger fruits instead of cherries, slice them in half.

- Slather your dish with butter and add the fruit in a single layer

- In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.

- Warm the milk or cream until barely simmering

- Whisk the eggs into the cream

- Whisk in the dry ingredients mixture until well-blended.

- Add the vanilla and rum etc. if using.

- Strain the batter over the fruit (very often I can’t be bothered to strain it).

- Bake for 40 minutes or until firm and golden

 

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Before                                                                                      After          
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During – oh clafoutis you gorgeous golden hunk of love

 

- When it’s cooked, take it out of the oven and dredge thickly with granulated sugar while still warm. Serve either lukewarm or cold.

The best accompaniment to this is the sort of extra-thick spoonable double cream that you can buy in the UK and which is unheard of in the US (which I have verifired via a heated Facebook and Twitter discussion). If you can’t get thick spoonable cream, then creme fraiche would do at a pinch or just pourable heavy cream. Or else, it’s really so delicious that you don’t need any cream at all.

 

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Weekend Link Love

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Oh it’s been SO long since I did one of these.

The weather continues to be absolutely glorious in Seattle but we haven’t quite been making the most of it as both the Husband and the Minx have been down with gastric flu, while I’m just sitting here waiting to get it. Before that though it was a week of sunshine-y walks, beautiful sunsets, watermelon cocktails, paddleboarding (I’ve been taking lessons! I love it!), and delicious vegetables.

I’ve also been enjoying this lovely wire ‘bonjour’ from Anthropologie which I’ve hung in my bedroom on the wall next to my bed. It’s a bit pricey for a little thing, but it delights me every time I get up, so for me it’s worth it.  And I’ve been bowled over by my fabulous new Whitney English Day Designer planner August 2014 edition, which I’m sort of in love with. I feel like my life is going to be utterly and perfectly organised going forward, which is not too much to ask of a planner is it? (New January planners come out on August 15th and I’ll be writing a fuller review of mine before then so you can be perfectly organised too).

Here are some things I’ve noticed in my travels around the web this week.

Lakshmi at PureVege does the sort of food photography that makes my heart twist in envy and awe. Utter perfection.

As you know I’ve been doing a lot of travelling recently. Some of these fabulous travel tips could have come in very useful over the past few months.

My friend Melanie Biehle found these simple, graphic posters of cakes by UK branding agency Purpose. They make me want to make a Battenberg cake immediately (it was one of my favourite cakes as a child, and I miss them here in the US).

British author Zadie Smith gives us 10 truthful rules of writing.

Obviously I truly and desperately need a personalised rolling pin (don’t we all?)

And I am so, so, so, so, so, so, SO tempted to download the Kim Kardashian game that everyone is talking about. Have any of you tried it? How quickly will it rot my brain?

On the blog over the last week or so, I posted some more pics of Tuscany and a tribute to the chef I met there and a recipe for Mixed Fruit Clafoutis. Will try to up the bloggery over the next week or so.

How are you all enjoying your summers?

Sunset - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

(The sun did this last night, just before sunset. I’ve never seen anything quite like it).

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Recipes

Parsnip CakeAppetizers, Soups, and Salads

Alice Waters’ Chicken Noodle Soup with Italian Additions

Aubergine (Eggplant) and Pistachio Salad

Buckwheat Blinis

Greek Salad

Gazpacho

Insalata Tricolore

Recession-Busting Italian Lentil & Bacon Soup

Rhubarb, Orange, and Thyme Crostini

Roasted Corn Soup

Roasted Pumpkin and Coconut Soup with Thai Flavours 

Breads

Focaccia

Hot Cross Buns

Irish Soda Bread

Panettone

Scones

Entrees/Mains

Brasato al barolo

My Nonna’s Lasagne

Paleo Chicken Curry

Paleo-Friendly Oxtail and Pumpkin Stew

Pappa al Pomodoro

Pasta with Leeks and Ham

Perfect Turkey

Roasted Asparagus and Halibut with Tomato-Lime Butter

Shepherd’s Pie

Spaghetti With Cherry Tomatoes

Swiss Chard Quiche

Thai Green Curry with Butternut Squash

Tomato Sauce

Desserts

Blackberry & Apple Crumble

Blueberry Boy Bait

Brown Bread Ice Cream

Candied Kumquat Panna Cotta

Cherry-Almond Loaf Cake

Cherry Cheesecake

Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry Pie

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate and Cherry Brownies

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Glaze

Chocolate Eclairs

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Truffles

Christmas Cake

Easter Simnel Cake

English Bramley Apple Pie

Lemon Frosted Pistachio Cake

Madeleines au Chocolat

Meyer Lemon, Rhubarb & Pistachio Bundt Cake

Meyer Lemon and Rosemary Posset

Mincemeat

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis

Parsnip Cake with Bourbon Brown Butter Frosting

Pear and Almond Tart

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Prince William’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Rhubarb and Amaretti Crumble

Rhubarb Polenta Cake with Orange and Cardamom

Saint Honore’

Strawberry, Lemon, and Poppy Seed Tartlets

Torta alla Gianduia with Pears

Traditional English Apricot Flapjacks

Victoria Sponge Cake

Cakes and Baked Goods

Drinks

Corpse Reviver

Mai Tai

Scofflaw

Strawberry Lemonade

Store Cupboard

Peperoncini e Melanzane Sott’olio

Red Onion Marmalade

 

 

 

 

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How To Photograph Fireworks

 

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I’ve had the summer cold from hell over the last week, AND I’ve been organising our big annual 4th July party, so over the last week I’ve been rushing around like a very grumpy crazy person.

Today though the house is clean and tidy, our roof deck is hosed down and looking beautiful, cherries are being picked from our tree, the second clafoutis of summer is being made, cats are gambolling on our vast acreage, a Brit is in the final at Wimbledon, THE. SUN. IS. SHINING. IN. SEATTLE, the oceans of sticky yellow snot in my head seem to be receding (possible TMI?) and all is right in my world. 

So I thought I’d indulge in a little gentle bloggery.

This year I decided to make an effort photographing the 4th July fireworks at our party.  In previous years I’ve generally been too outrageously drunk and inept to anything more than a pitiful job, so this year I armed myself with this blog post by the very lovely John Cornicello (whom I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting in person at a recent Creative Live workshop) and set to work.

 

 

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This is what I learned.

 

1) Use a tripod

This year I took the trouble to set the tripod up on the deck before I got started on the margaritas.  This is imperative as in previous years the tripod has defeated me in my drunken state and I’ve ended up leaning the camera on railings instead.  That doesn’t work at all.

 

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2) Use a GOOD tripod

I bought my tripod 6 years ago when I was just starting out doing product photography and I distinctly remember it being the cheapest one in the shop.  Its flimsy and lightweight and not suitable at all for long exposures.  If you’re serious about photographing fireworks you may need to SPEND MONEY. My next birthday present is sorted out now.

 

3) Find the BULB setting on your camera

This will allow you to push on the shutter release, hold open the exposure as long as you want and then release it when you think you’ve got the shot.  I practised doing this the day before.  Go me.

 

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4) Use a low ISO and smallish apertures

Fireworks are BRIGHT and you don’t need to bump up the ISO number, or open the aperture miles wide to get the shot (mistakes I’ve always made in the past).  I used the settings John C recommends – ISO 100 and apertures between f/13 and f/18  and they seemed to work well. I held the shutter open for anything between 1 sec and 6 seconds depending on how much was going on in the sky.

 

5) Use a remote control shutter release

This was the thing I didn’t do and regretted, instead relying on my margarita-fuelled finger to hold down the shutter, and thereby gently shaking the camera every time. So between that and the crappy tripod I got lots and lots and LOTS of photos full of movement blur as below.

 

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So I still have lots to learn and practice where fireworks are concerned.

Until next year. 

In the meantime here’s a very lucky shot of a bottle rocket taking off from our deck which is maybe my favourite shot of the night.

 

 

 

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Also two really cr*ppy shots of the 100 mini celebratory cupcakes I baked, just to prove I made them really.

 

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Blossom Watch

 

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Cherry pie, cherry jam, cherry clafoutis, cherry cheesecake

 

I’m back! Did you miss me? Sorry, I disappeared so abruptly.  I got all caught up in preparations for our trip to Del Mar and Dana Point in Southern California, then we went on the trip, which was very lovely indeed thankyouverymuch and now I’m back in rainy Seattle.

Blossom watch was a complete bust.  I thought the tree would be fully out before we left, but the incredibly cold and rainy spring we’re having here meant that it didn’t bloom properly until we were away.

Here’s a pic from today though. Here’s hoping that this spring warms up soon so that these get a chance to turn into cherries. 

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Things I Am Loving – Carl Kleiner’s Food Photography

 

I’ve been looking at a lot of food photography recently, but, sometimes, dare I say it, it can get a little same-y – put your food in a pretty dish, lay it on a cunningly folded napkin, place everything on a textured table and play with depth of field until the background is artfully blurred.

Rinse and repeat. (And yes, I know I do this too.)

So it’s wonderful to see food photography that is completely out of left field and so very beautiful, for, of all things, an Ikea cookbook.

Photographer Carl Kleiner worked with stylist Evelina Bratell to create fabulous still-life patterns out of the raw ingredients for each dish.

 

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The photos of the finished articles are witty, pretty and original too.

 

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Unfortunately I think the cookbook is only available in Swedish and from Ikea in Sweden at the moment, though hopefully an international edition will be available shortly.

And wouldn’t those prints look wonderful as kitchen artwork?

And maybe I was onto something when I took a picture of my pot roast ingredients back in February? I should have held that thought.

{via Jackie Baisa’s Facebook page}

 

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Hey Cupcake!

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Sorry for light bloggery recently – it’s the interminable school vacation here and while we’re having lots of fun in the sun, there really isn’t much opportunity to get to a computer.

Last weekend, as usual, was filled with preparations for our annual Fourth of July firework party on our roofdeck, for which I ended up baking 113 mini-cupcakes, two huge clafoutis with cherries from our tree and one enormous strawberry and raspberry pavlova (which I will blog about separately).

Here are the cupcakes in action (with a glimpse of one of the clafoutis to the bottom right of the bottom image)

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Here is the view on a gorgeously warm and balmy moonlit night.

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And here is the ISO button on my camera breaking just before I was going to take pictures of the main event.

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Life is a bowl of…

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This is probably around a quarter of the cherries we’ve pulled off the tree in the last few days and there’s still more to come.  We’re eating till we’re fit to burst, giving them away and made an immense clafoutis at the weekend (which I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of before it was gobbled up). We’ll also be making jam before long.

But, I think we’re still in need of cherry recipes. Any good ones?

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Getting Personal

Today’s lunch 

I know, I know.  You don’t care what I had for lunch*.  But this picture marks the start of a new regime round these parts.

I had my first session with a personal trainer today. 

I can no longer deny it, the pounds that have been piling on as a result of stress, miscarriages, depression following the Minx’s birth (though not the pregnancy itself, I actually lost weight as a result of eating incredibly healthily and exercising throughout) and cupcakes, have meant that I am now downright fat, and not just pleasingly plump as I have been fondly imagining.

Fortunately I am also feeling better about my body than I have for ages, since a course of chiropractic treatment with the wondrous Dr Ted has been working miracles to alleviate the chronic back and foot pain that I’ve been suffering from for years as a result of a yoga injury (see, exercise is bad for you) and ancient knee injury.  I already feel about ten years younger and am finding it so much easier to be active.  I’m just kicking myself that I didn’t do this sooner, why on earth isn’t chiropractic available on the NHS?

Anyway Heather was very lovely and didn’t ‘whup my ass’ as much as I feared, though maybe she was just saving it up for next time. We’ve set a year as a realistic timeframe for me to get back to the size I was when I got married ten years ago, through lots more activity, focused training sessions and portion control and I’m feeling more motivated than I have in forever.

*Just for the record, that is the remains of last night’s chicken and vegetable skewer with some pea and mint salad and some chopped tomatoes.  Served on a fabulous kids’ melamine plate from Not Neutral. And it managed to fill me up for oh, about two hours.

Must dash now as friends are coming to sit on the deck and I need to work on our menu of insalata caprese, beer can chicken (I’ve been wanting to try this for AGES) and cherry clafoutis.  And yes, I have noted the inherent contradictions in this blog post.

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