Thursday, August 16, 2012

Clafoutis (for Julia)

 "Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."
- Julia Child

Many, many people have done tribute posts to yesterday's 100th anniversary of Julia Child's birthday.  While I know that nearly everything has been said on the topic of Julia, I still wanted to write a few of my thoughts.  I didn't grow up watching Julia on TV (I really didn't watch much of any TV... In fact, I perhaps would have recognized this parody {start watching at 30:20}, than her actual show). Nevertheless, I have read several of her books and books about her and I do consider her to be one of my favorite food people.

Julia's quote I listed above is one of my favorites and it also is a good reminder to everyone, I think!  First of all to keep searching for things we're passionate about.  And secondly to not forget those passions.... to keep doing what we love!  I love baking & pastry (and food in general).  I love photography.  I love antiques & vintage items.  I love teaching people.  Blogging allows me an outlet for all of those things.  It is especially important to me during this transitional point in my life.  

I would have loved to create a whole "Julia" themed, multi-course meal.  But alas, I was not thinking ahead when I planned our meals for this week, & I had already used up this week's grocery budget.  Instead, I settled on dessert.  And dessert had to be a slightly less complicated item because I was already committed to a slightly more complicated dinner... 

Until yesterday, I had neither made, nor eaten Clafoutis.  Traditionally clafoutis are made with cherries (and cherries with pits in them, no less).    A thin custardy batter, somewhat similar to crepe batter, is blitzed in the blender, poured over the fruit & baked until golden.  Very simple!

I taught about clafoutis during the custards unit in one of the classes I taught at CIC.  I had seen plenty of clafoutis on blogs I follow.  Still, I had not made nor eaten one myself!  I decided that in the spirit of Julia (and her creativity & fearlessness) I should make a completely new-to-me item.  Not necessarily difficult, but something I had not done before.  Given my parameters of making a not complicated item, the clafoutis recipe won!  

Julia's book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," lists several variations on the traditional cherry clafoutis, including pear, plum, apple, blueberry...  But, I had two nicely ripe peaches on my counter, just begging to be used.  Peaches & pears are somewhat similar, right?  They are in my book!  I took the pear version and created my own variation with the peaches instead.  

While I knew that clafoutis are in the custard family, I was not fully prepared for how custard-y they tasted.  Because the custard batter contained flour & because many descriptions of clafoutis liken the batter to a pancake batter, I expected them to taste more starchy.  Instead, they reminded me of a custard pie, only with a bit of the crust mixed in to the filling.  Delicious!  

We ate our clafoutis for dessert last night while watching "Julie & Julia."  I, of course, wore my pearl necklace & one of my favorite more dressy aprons. It seemed an appropriate way to commemorate what would have been Julia's 100th Birthday.  

Peach Clafoutis 
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

2 medium Peaches, ripe but firm
1/3 c Granulated Sugar
1/4 c Grand Marnier
1 c Milk
3 eggs
1 Tbl Vanilla Extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c AP flour
Butter, for pan
confectioners sugar, for garnish 

1.  Peel and slice the peaches into a medium sized bowl.  Sprinkle the sugar and liqueur over the fruit & stir to combine.  Let stand for 1 hour.  

2.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 7 to 8 cup baking dish/pie plate/gratin dish or individual rammekins.  

3.  Pour the liquid from the peaches into the blender jar.  Add the remaining ingredients in the order in which they are listed.  Cover and blend on high speed for 1 minute.  

4.  Arrange the fruit in the bottom of the baking dish(es).  Pour the batter over the fruit, taking care not to disturb the fruit pattern too much {note, the batter will float some of the fruit, so do not waste your time arranging the fruit extremely artistically, like I did!}  

5.  Place in the oven and bake until golden brown & puffed, approximately 40 minutes to an hour for the large size.  Smaller, individual clafoutis will bake in less time.  Remove from the oven & cool slightly.  

6.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar just before serving.  Serve slightly warm.  

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