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.



Joy By Post

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A few days ago, I received a most amazing package in the mail.

I’ve received some pretty wonderful packages in my life, largely because my Pop lived nearly 2000 miles away from me when I was growing up. On most holidays, and sometimes without occasion, he would send music, artwork, articles, art supplies, and all manner of other things. I also have dear friends who occasionally send artwork.

Somehow (big surprise here) the packages that stand out in my mind are the ones that involve food. When my grandparents lived in California and had an orchard, my grandma would send me a box of fuyu persimmons every year for my birthday. I loved those boxes of fruit! One of my best friends told me recently that every time she sees persimmons she thinks of those boxes from my grandma. Eventually my grandparents moved to Washington. I cried a little when I ate the last persimmon from the last package. The orchard I credit with much of my food appreciation is now a housing development. Sad ending.

Another exquisite package was one from my friend GP, who I had told just a day or two before that I’d never had Kimbo espresso. I went into work and there was a small package that had been overnighted from him: one vacuum pack of Kimbo and an adorable single serving moka pot. I seriously cherished that thing, and that espresso too! This one has a sad ending, too: a sketchy girl was at my house with GP once, and she was apparently pretty jealous of our friendship – she stole my beloved espresso percolator after learning that he had given it to me. I was so, so bummed (and angry). Wow, I didn’t realize until now that my amazing consumable packages were so bittersweet.

Back to the package I just received (there’s still hope for a happy ending!). My friend KCC recently married into a family with a ponderosa lemon tree. Her husband’s grandfather, now 93, planted this tree sixty years ago. It bears enormous fruit, each one the size of three good sized lemons. KCC sent me twelve of these lemony dinosaur eggs late last week!!

When I opened the box, not long before midnight last Thursday, I’m pretty sure I squealed and jumped around a little. All of a sudden the room was perfumed with a lemony citron smell, and I was overwhelmed with the need to bake. I asked the internet what to make, and the internet responded: lemon olive oil cake. So, I washed, dried, and zested one of the monsters (so much zest!), and wrestled with it until I’d extracted all of the juice. Lemon #1 dwarfed my lowly manual orange juicer, and I had to keep stopping to dump the juice through a strainer into a separate container (these are fertile – so many seeds!). I ended up with just under a cup of lemon juice from a single lemon. Whoa.

I made mini cupcakes (fail – they ended up too dry), cupcakes (pretty good, probably won’t make them again), and then used some of the remaining juice to wash a few of them down with lemonade. By this time it was 1:50 (on a weeknight), and I was wide awake. Somehow I justified walking down the street to my local bar with Lemon #2*, which was gifted to D, the owner (I had mentioned them to him before, when they were en route).

Since then I’ve baked breaded chicken which I served doused with lemon juice (Lemon #1), I’ve baked lemon pepper popovers (zest from Lemon #1), and I’ll likely use the rest of the zest in a lemon cream cheese frosting (I made carrot cupcakes on Sunday). I have a bit less than a quarter cup of juice from Lemon #1.

I have ten more lemons! I desperately want to respect these and use every last bit, so I’ve been fishing around for recipes, from friends and online. Please, if you have good ones share or link to them in a comment. Of particular interest to me would be savory recipes… I’m going to kill myself with the baked goods. Only recipes that use a lot of lemon juice or zest, by the way, I’m not f*cking around with only a tablespoon of juice. Remember, I have to get through the equivalent of 30 lemons in the next week or so. Help? Thanks.

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It has just occurred to me that I am the same age as Grandpa C was when he planted his lemon tree. Eek! I need to find a place to start planting fruit trees.

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*As of last night, D was still scheming on how to approach Lemon #2. I will update as information becomes available.