Cherry Clafouti

Cherry Clafouti, I know you’re in there! Come out, with your hands up!

I saw a picture of a cherry clafouti when I was poking about on eGullet in the past week or so. It was handsome. So when I saw there were cherries at the supermarket this evening, I decided that I was going to make cherry clafouti!

There’s always a catch to any good story.

It turns out that I don’t have an appropriate dish for making clafouti. My first choice of dish, a springform pan, was a predictable mistake. Faced with a leaky springform pan full (but emptying) of batter, I had to find a second choice, and fast!

It turns out that I don’t have that much in the way of “things for baking food in”. However, among the things I do have for baking food in, were muffin tins. And by some bizarre fluke of the universe, a muffin tray was precisely the right amount of space for the reduced quantity of batter that I made! But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.

At the supermarket, when I decided that cherry clafouti would be mine (oh yes, it would be mine); I wasn’t too sure what was actually involved – I knew there was some kind of doughy mixture with cherries poking out. I figured that to make the doughy mixture, I’d find the ingredients in my pantry. This was almost correct; but I wasn’t missing anything that I couldn’t substitute. I’m digressing again, aren’t I. Lets jump forward in time to when I started looking at recipes.

When it comes down to it, clafouti is batter over fruit (cherries, in this case). It shouldn’t be that hard to make. That doesn’t stop some people from having convoluted recipes with eggs and yolks, or ground almonds or all sorts of other little complications. I ended up going with the simplest batter recipe that I came across, with an important variation: There’s only one of me, and while I regard dessert as being the most important meal of the day, I can only eat so much dessert. Instead of making the dessert as in the recipe, I ended up making roughly a third of the recipe (One egg worth, non-divisible things that they are. (That’s not strictly true – it’s just a pain to split an egg)). On with the procedure!

Start off with roughly two heaped tablespoons of flour, with just a pinch of salt. Then, make a well in the middle, and add the egg. Whisk the egg into the flour until it’s a smooth paste. Next, take about one cup of milk; and whisk it into the paste. Once the milk has been incorporated, add a splash of kirsch (or in my kitchen, I decided the best substitute for kirsch was probably going to be cognac), and about a tablespoon of caster sugar (the fine stuff; but not too fine!).

Take a muffin tray with cups that hold about one cup. Place two to three cherries in the bottom of six cups (I’d read that leaving the stones in was better for dessert, but less good for guests; so left the stones in. Next time, I think I might pit them, though – having the cherry juice run through the batter seems like a good thing); then pour in enough of the batter to reach about 2/3 the way up the cherries.

Cook the baby clafouti for about 35 minutes in a 190C oven – until the tops have puffed and turned brown.

[Once the clafouti are cooked, doom awaits you! they’re a pain to extract from the muffin pan without making a mess. I have a feeling that lining each of the cups with aluminium foil (with handy tabs for lifting out of the muffin tray) will make this easier. Something to consider next time, anyway. You did read to the end of the recipe before beginning, right?]

Beetroot and Lamb

This is a spontanious sort of a recipe – I kinda made it up as I went along. I started out looking for something involving lamb; and came across several recipes which also included beetroot. This made me think that lamb and beetroot was going to be a fairly safe sort of combination.

So I picked up some lamb and a bunch of baby beetroot from the supermarket (in addition to a pack of singapore noodles, and a box of catfood. Singapore noodles? you might ask – I’d thought that perhaps stirfry noodles with beetroot and lamb might be a worthwhile endeavour… But not tonight.). In any case, on with the recipe!

At this point, I still hadn’t really decided on what I was going to do; but I figured that roasting the beetroot was going to be a good start. I trimmed most of the leaves off the beetroot, and placed them on a wire rack in a ~160C oven (Our oven seems to be about 20C off. Very annoying. Though there are certainly things which are more annoying). After about 45 minutes, not a lot of progress had been made; so I turned the oven up to ~190C. Fifteen minutes later, I decided to get on with the rest of what I was making for dinner (The beetroot took another fifteen minutes or so to get to a nice tender stage; but that’s not until after the next paragraph).

Here’s where dinner started to take shape: I took about half of the lamb I bought (about 150g), and cut it into thin slices, and placed it in a bowl. Next, marinade ingredients. I decided that since beetroot seems to appear in middle-eastern style food, that I’d make a bastardised middle-eastern marinade. To the lamb, I added a teaspoon or so of pomegranate molasses, about a tablespoon of lemon infused olive oil, and about a tablespoon of minced garlic (I’m a bit of a garlic fiend). I mixed the lamb around until it was all coated; and stashed it at the top of my pantry so that my feline friends couldn’t get their little furry paws on it.

While the rest of the preparations took place, the beetroot finished up cooking. The beetroot is done when there’s only very slight resistance when poked with a skewer. Take the beetroot out of the oven, and let it cool off for about ten minutes or so. Once it’s cooled off; peel about 4 of the beetroots – if your experience is anything like mine, the outer layer of skin dried out quite a bit; and became very loose, allowing easy removal. Chop the beetroot into quarters.

Heat up a frypan over medium high heat, and add the lamb and marinade to the pan. Toss the meat about gently until just brown. Add the quartered beetroots, and lower the temperature. Quite a bit of the beetroot juice will leach out of the beetroot; but that’s okay! at the end of this exercise it’ll turn a bit syrupy. Now is also a good time to warm up some pita bread to go with the lamb and beetroot (and especially good for mopping up the syrupy juice that gets left behind.)

That’s about it, really! It’s a shame that I don’t have my digital camera at the moment, because it really was a very pretty dish. The beetroot, for all their juice loss stayed very dark and very tender; and the lamb picked up a marvellous pink colour. It was definately delicious, and something I’ll have to try again when I do have my digital camera back.

Not For Cyrus

For dinner this evening, I made something that Cyrus wouldn’t eat! The thing about Cyrus, is when he was very young, he was playing with a tomato when it burst. I’m told that this is why he won’t eat vegetables. Except he does now. At least, some vegetables. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a fan of tomatoes, however. Introductions aside, on with dinner!

I panfried a chicken breast until cooked through, then added finely diced onions, tomato and garlic until they turned saucey. Next, I deglazed with vodka; and once that cooked off, added some coarsely chopped mushrooms to the mix.

It was okay; but probably not something I’d make again in his absence.

When the cat’s away, the mice do play?

My lovely and charming partner Cyrus is a notoriously fussy eater.

My lovely and charming partner Cyrus is also in Los Angeles at the moment.

In theory, that means I can make whatever I want for myself, without having to accomodate him. However, so far; he’d eat all of the things I’ve made.

(Unfortunately, since he is in Los Angeles, my camera is with him; and as such there aren’t going to be any food pictures to accompany the “recipes” for a while.)

Last night, was on the whole, pretty simple. I had boiled jersey bennes (organic, no less. They were on sale the last time we ran out of potatoes, so ended up costing the same as the non-organic potatoes); with panfried cervena and mushrooms.

Tonight, I had chicken stuffed with parma ham and camembert; with a sprinkling of sea salt and kelp pepper.

Kelp pepper, you might ask?

It seems to be dried kelp, which has been ground up into a coarse pepper-like form. It’s a little bit salty, and a little bit sea-weedy. I gather it’s also full of iodine and other minerals.

A List of Recommended Books

I just came across this list of cookbooks while poking about on eGullet forums. It looks like a handy list to keep hold of for when I’m next looking for more books.

Cajun Creole:
The Evolution of Cajun and Creole Cuisine – John D. Folse (The Bible)
Naturally N’Awlins – Frank Davis
Frank Davis Cooks Cajun Creole and Crescent City – Frank Davis
Commander’s Kitchen – Adelaide Martin
River Road Recipes I, II and III – Junior League
All of the rest of John Folses’s and Paul Prudhomme’s Books

Healthy Cajun:
Something Old & Something New – John D. Folse
Chef Prudhomme’s Fork in the Road- Paul Prudhomme

King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion – King Arthur Flour
Baking by Flavor – Lisa Yockelson
The Simple Art of Perfect Baking – Flo Braker
The Bakers Dozen – Reinhart, Braker, Medrich, etc.
Secrets of Baking – Sherri Yard
A Passion for Desserts – Emily Luchetti
Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts – Alice Medrich

Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen – Rick Bayless
Mexico One Plate at a Time – Rick Bayless
Authentic Mexican – Rick Bayless
The Cuisines of Mexico – Diana Kennedy
El Charro Cafe – Carlotta Flores (Sonoran Style Mexican Food)

Professional Baking:
Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Simple Art of – CIA
Professional Baking – Wayne Gisslen

Professional Reference:
Larousse Gastronomique – Prosper Montagne
The Professional Chef, Seventh Edition – CIA
Culinary Artistry – Andrew Dornenburg (Great for Flavor Development)
On Cooking – Sarah Labensky
The Professional Chef’s Techniques of Healthy Cooking – CIA

Southeast Asian:
Hot Sour Salty Sweet – Jeffrey Alford (Awesome)
The Complete Asian Cookbook – Charmaine Solomon
Thai Food – David Thompson
Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table – Mia Pham
The Vietnamese Cookbook – Diana My Tran

Posticker Chronicles – Stuart Chang Berman (American Style Chinese)
The Chinese Kitchen – Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen – Grace Young
From the Earth – Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
Asian Ingredients – Bruce Cost (Good for identification)

Vegetables Amaranth to Zucchini – Elizabeth Schneider (Uncommon Vegetables)
Vegetables – James Peterson
Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables – Elizabeth Schneider
Local Flavors – Deborah Madison

Simple French Food – Richard Olney
Glorious French Food – James Peterson
The Provence Cookbook – Patricia Wells
Good Food No Fuss – Ann Willan
From My Chateau Kitchen – Ann Willan

Foods of Sicily & Sardinia and the Smaller Islands – Giuliano Bugialli
Foods of Naples – Giuliano Bugialli
Foods of Tuscany – Giuliano Bugialli
Ciao Siciliy – Damian Mandola (Americanized Italian)
Ciao Yall – Damian Mandola (Americanized Italian)
Cooking the Roman Way – David Downie
In a Roman Kitchen – Jo Bettoja

Southern and Low Country:
The New Low Country Cooking – Marvin Woods
Louis Osteen’s Charleston Cuisine – Louis Osteen
Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking – Bill Neal
Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie – Bill Neal
Damon Lee Fowler’s New Southern Kitchen – Damon Lee Fowler

On Food and Cooking – Harold McGee
What Einstein Told His Cook – Robert Wolke
The Curious Cook – Harold McGee

The Good Cookie – Tish Boyle
Cookies and Brownies – Alice Medrich

Bittersweet – Alice Medrich
Cocolat – Alice Medrich
Chocolate Desserts – Pierre Herme

Bread Bakers Apprentice – Peter Reinhart
Crust and Crumb – Peter Reinhart
Amy’s Bread – Amy Scherber
Italian Baker – Carol Field

Other Really Good Books:
The Best Recipe – Cook’s Illustrated
Fish and Shellfish – James Peterson
Bistro Cooking at Home – Gordon Hammersley
Zuni Cafe Cookbook – Judy Rodgers
American Pie – Peter Reinhart
Sauces – James Peterson
Kaffeehaus – Rick Rodgers

I was all by myself…

…and no one was loooooooking!

The lovely and charming Cyrus has abandoned me, so that he can go to Los Angeles for work.

[When he left his passport and other stuff behind, I totally shouldn’t have taken it to him; just so he couldn’t have gone. But I didn’t; and that makes me some kind of superhero. Superhero, or supermoron; anyway.]