Savory Clafoutis (Savory Flaugnarde)

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I’m a bit of a clafoutis addict. I’ve been known to make it 4 times in one week during cherry season. I love the dense custardy base so much that when I can’t get my hands on cherries, I run off the rails into whatever’s-in-the-fridge territory.

My go-to clafoutis recipe is this one (disclaimer: I’ve never actually used the kirsch). It calls for yogurt instead of the traditional heavy cream, allowing me to justify eating the whole thing myself over a couple of days. I suspect it’s still not good for me, but that doesn’t concern me, as the amount of joy it brings me is monumental.

When I make the savory version I leave out the cherries and vanilla, cut the sugar way down, add freshly ground pepper and other spices, and mix in vegetables and vegetarian sausage. Today I went a little overboard and started by melting butter into olive oil and slowly caramelizing some onions for what seemed like ages.

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Meanwhile, I chopped red and green bell pepper, vegetarian sausage, and a zucchini, and set them aside.  I made the clafoutis base, adding a lot of freshly ground pepper, hot paprika, sweet paprika, aleppo pepper, a little herbes de provence, a big splash of soy sauce, a lot of fresh thyme leaves, and 2 cloves of very thinly sliced garlic.  Note that I didn’t add any salt – between the soy and sausage there’s plenty. At this point I decided I wanted more batter, so I added a couple of eggs and a bit more yogurt.  No measuring, that’s how I roll, I just adjusted the seasoning a bit to compensate.

When the onions finally caramelized I dumped the veggies and sausage into a buttered dish. Typically I use a clafoutis dish whether I’m making sweet or savory, but today I decided to make big tall pieces in a square glass dish.  I poured the batter over the veggies and sausage, then strewed the onions around the top, and pressed them down with tongs so they were wet with the batter but near the top. This went into the oven for about 40 minutes, and voila.

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It must be mentioned that clafoutis by definition involves cherries. The internet tells me that a clafoutis with any other fruit is actually a flaugnarde. I’ve bastardized the clafoutis one step further, so I guess this counts as a savory flaugnarde.  I bet there’s a proper name for what I’m making here, but I don’t know it. If you know, do tell! Regardless, I highly suggest making a cherry clafoutis, or any kind of flaugnarde. In addition to being delicious, these make quite the convenient office breakfast the following morning.

Dulce de Leche Brownies


I’m not sure why, but I’ve had dulce de leche on the mind lately. I’ve been wanting to make it myself, and have been looking for a vehicle/excuse. One night I was considering what to make for my teacher’s birthday and it came to me: dulce de leche brownies. A few seconds with a search engine and I realized that this was nothing new, so I followed the recipe on David Lebovitz’s site (including the dulce de leche recipe that he links to).

Slightly disappointed with the texture (mine turned out a bit more cakey than his look), I’ve spent a bit of time since trolling cooking forums and recipes, and I’m wondering if I didn’t overcook the brownies slightly. The recipe called for 35-45 minutes of baking; I removed these from the oven after 35, but I suspect that my oven runs a bit hot. Also, I read that many people drop the cooking temperature 25 degrees (Fahrenheit) when using glass bakeware… I had never heard of such a thing! I lined my Pyrex with aluminum foil, but I’m not sure how much of a difference that would make. At some point I’ll try this recipe again in a metal pan, and yet again with a lower temperature. It’s funny to obsess about getting something right when you aren’t even particularly interested in eating the end product – I’m just not a huge fan of chocolate. However, I really prefer a more fudgy brownie, and I want to know how to get it right.

For the record, I doubled the recipe and made two pans of these, one with walnuts and one without. Everyone gave positive reviews, but those who tried both preferred them with nuts.



Ginger & White Peach Scones

It has been so, so long since I’ve posted here. I should change the title to something involving Languishing. I think about it, I bake a lot, I made dinners for myself sometimes… and yet somehow actually putting photos up and saying something is beyond my reach. My track record these past couple of years speaks for itself, so let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that all of a sudden I’m going to be posting every week. That said, one post can be a beginning, right? Here’s hoping this will be the one. Ha.

With the loss of Thé Adoré in my work neighborhood, I’ve been hard pressed to find a scone to my liking. I like them moist not dry, and more flaky than crumbly, but not so flaky that they lose their scone-ness. Having threatened to make scones for years, the past month or so has found me playing around with a couple of recipes. The texture isn’t up to par with the tea spot I used to go to in Cambridge, or the ones that Thé Adoré made, but they’re nevertheless a damned good product. Coworker approved!

Lately I’ve been using this recipe, with a few modifications. To make the scones pictured here, I left out the currants, added 1 cup of chopped dried white peaches, and added a generous 1/2 cup of chopped crystallized ginger. I made these additions *after* cutting the butter in, as I find using a pastry cutter on butter while there are other lumps in the way is a little weird. Just be careful not to over-mix!

Do you have a scone recipe that you swear by, or even just really love? Please share. I’d like to make this even better.

RIP, Thé Adoré

Working between Union Square and the West Village in Manhattan, I have a lot of lunch options nearby. Most are either too expensive, bad to mediocre, or just too noisy or crowded to relax. When in the mood to have a lunch date with a book, there’s one place I’ve preferred from the very beginning: a tiny Japanese-run French-style bakery, serving tea, coffee, soups, salads, sandwiches, and pastries.

On Tuesday I was singularly focused on writing a few holiday cards in silence over a bowl of potato leek soup and a Hungarian sandwich (baguette, Hungarian salami, melted cheese, pickles), but I arrived to find the riot gate down and a hand written farewell sign taped to the building. Nooooooooo! My heart sank.

Adieu, Thé Adoré, and thanks. Your calm ambiance, lovely staff, incredible scones and tarts, genmai-cha, lattes, well-worn wooden tables, picture window, and Japanese sensibility will be greatly missed. ♥

Birthday Redux


crispy horse mackerel

It has been a long time. I’ve been to Japan and back, again, and I don’t think I’ve even posted photos from last year’s trip here; somehow priorities shift. I became so consumed with another priority last year that I found myself uninspired even walking through a farmers market. Gah! Thankfully I’ve adjusted a bit, and I’m finding more of a balance. I’d say I’m more balanced and happy than I’ve ever been, really, which is bizarre, as I still only make pit stops at home and at times feel like I’m completely controlled by another being… my calendar. But food is more a part of my life again. Those were dark food times, last year. Ha.

Monday I redeemed a birthday dinner raincheck, and found myself at Blue Ribbon Sushi Brooklyn. Being inside there on that intensely foggy night digging into a cup of chawanmushi was divine (does anyone have a good recipe for it?). I found their offering to be better than what I had in Japan. We had a number of pieces of sushi and sashimi, notably the best uni I’ve ever had – it tasted of melon (pepino melon? couldn’t quite place it). Among the sashimi was delicious horse mackerel, served leaned up against its former structure which was beautifully sculptural, skewered with head and tail curved up as if in motion. When we finished the sashimi, they took the skeleton away, fried it, and brought back the crispy bits you see above. The bones of a horse mackerel are soft enough to eat when fried! Amazing. Really beautiful quality, presentation, and service, all of it, and the food was incredible. I’m thankful to have eased back into stateside Japanese food in such a manner.

I miss Japan so much.

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By the way, the manager of BR Sushi Brooklyn was totally delightful to chat with, and my friend told me later that she makes beautiful ceramics. They’ve inspired me… I’ve been daydreaming all week about quitting my job and making art (or at least making more art when I’m not at work!).

Training Wheels


clockwise from top left: string cheese with za’atar; salad of arugula, nectarine, gorgonzola, tomato, balsamic glaze, freshly ground pepper, and lime juice; greek olive hummus with freshly ground pepper (whole wheat pita not pictured).

It’s been brought to my attention that on the hottest day of the year, my Snow Day Pancakes post remained the most recent, and that just can’t stand.

I’ve been cooking more than last year (when I became obsessed with a martial art and everything else in my life was thrown by the wayside), but I certainly haven’t been making lunches on a regular basis, and I haven’t found the time to enjoy photographing food like I used to.

Friday a friend and I sat in the courtyard of a nearby building with our lunches. The trees offered welcome shade on a hot day, and despite the sounds of construction, it was lovely and relaxing. This lunch (above) felt like a bento with training wheels to me (the comparison isn’t perfect… I can’t imagine forgetting how to ride a bike), but renewed momentum has to start somewhere.


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Snow Day Pancakes


snow day pancakes topped with apple-cherry compote and blueberry greek yogurt; fried sweet plantains; coffee w/soy milk.

I woke up at 6:30 to the first of my alarms (yes, I require a number of them), looked at my phone, and saw I had an alert text from my employer notifying me that the university is closed. Snow day!! I looked out the window, turned off the other alarms, and went back to bed.

When I finally got up just before 10, I wanted pancakes. I made coffee and sat down at my computer to look at recipes. Oops – it’s now afternoon, and I just lost 3 hours to food blogs and news and checking in on friends. Now I’m running back and forth between the computer and stove, the stewed apples & cherries are cooled, and I’ve fried some plantains. It’s a snow day, so I think that counts as industrious.

The recipe below yielded chewy (somewhat dense yet pretty tender) pancakes that I enjoyed, but if you like very light pancakes it’s not for you. Between the buckwheat flour and the whole wheat flour, they were definitely hearty. I’m not a diner pancake fan, so they worked for me.

SNOW DAY PANCAKES
Adapted from About.com (I know… I was looking for something simple)
Makes 6 4″ pancakes.

Ingredients:

1/2 c buckwheat flour
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/4 t baking powder
1 1/2 T granulated sugar
1/4 t salt
1 large egg
3/4 + 2T coconut milk
1 T melted butter

Method:

* Dump all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk together.
* Whisk all of the wet ingredients together in a different bowl.
* Dump the wet mixture into the dry and stir until just combined (small lumps ok).
* Cook like you cook pancakes, silly! I used a 1/4 cup measure to scoop batter.