Clafoutis: A Summer Classic

Cherries, cherries, cherries! We love them! The rich, sweet taste in combination with the right texture! They just want to be eaten, one after the other. So what better summer dessert than Clafoutis?
Small, black or dark red cherries are the best for Clafoutis. We used very taste Dutch cherries, but these can be a bit oversized (but so tasty!). Don’t use candied cherries, Maraschino or anything canned or jarred.
Clafoutis is made with milk and eggs, so in a way familiar to Crè­me Brûlée and Far Breton. But in case of Clafoutis you only need to whisk and wait for it to bake in the oven. That’s all.
There are many recipes for Clafoutis, some with cold milk, some with hot. Some use milk and cream, others just milk. We use warm milk because you get a better feel for the consistency, but cold milk will also do the job.

Some add Kirsch and others add Vanilla. We can’t see the benefit of adding Kirsch when using tasty cherries. Vanilla is distracting, so not recommended.

Another decision to make: use whole cherries or pitted ones? Not removing the pits is less work (obviously) and it reduces the risk of a soggy Clafoutis. The pits contain amygdalin, a toxic compound that can also be found in almonds, apple seeds and apricot stones. Amygdalin has the taste of almonds. In this recipe we pit the cherries and compensate for the lack of almond taste by using some almond flour.
If you decide to pit the cherries, make sure you remove all of them!

Finally, yes, you can replace the cherries with fresh apricots, berries, peaches or prunes. Then it’s called a Flaugnarde. But nothing as tasty as Clafoutis made with fresh cherries!

Here is what you need:

  • 2,5 dl of regular Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 30 grams of plain Flour
  • 10 grams of Almond Flour
  • 20 grams of Sugar
  • 500 grams of Cherries, pitted
  • 10 grams of Butter

Pre heat the oven to 180° Celsius or 350° Fahrenheit. Whisk together the eggs, plain flour, almond flour and sugar. Bring the milk almost to a boil. Stir the milk into the mixture. Butter a large, shallow baking dish, add cherries to the dish and make sure the bottom is nicely covered with cherries. No need to have two layers of cherries. Pour the mixture over the cherries. Bake (lower third of the oven) for 20 minutes, add a few dots of butter, continue baking for another 20 minutes or until the Clafoutis is golden. Leave to cool for 60 minutes or so, this will enhance the taste. Clafoutis should be served luke-warm. You could decorate the clafoutis with icing sugar, but it’s not essential.

White Asparagus with Summer Truffle

From Spring to Summer

Time to celebrate! Summer has just begun and the Asparagus season has come to a close. So let’s bring the two together in this slightly extravagant dish. It is earthy, slightly bitter and sweet, velvety and complete.
The Summer Truffle (Tuber Aestivum) is not as intense and overwhelming as the Winter Truffle. It should be used immediately and preferably grated. It loses its taste when heated, so don’t use it for your Tournedos Rossini. This dish should be luke warm, so an excellent environment for a Summer Truffle. Take your time to appreciate the delicate combination in your plate.

Wine Pairing

We drank a glass of Italian Gewürztraminer with our Asparagus with Summer Truffle. This wine has a distinctive fruity flavour with hints of aromatic herbs. The area where the grapes are grown (Alto Adige) is relatively cool and sunny. As a result of this the Gewürztraminer grapes ripe well without losing their freshness. So the wine brings fruit, freshness, warmth and aromatic herbs, which works well with the earthy, aromatic truffle and the sweetness and bitterness of the asparagus. Parsley is essential because it brings freshness to the dish; nicely balanced with the velvety taste of the egg and butter. And butter is the ideal bridge between egg, asparagus and truffle.
In general a glass of Gewürztraminer is ideal with this dish, provided it has a touch of sweetness only. Sometimes Gewürztraminer is simply too sweet. This will not only ruin the hints of aromatic herbs in the wine; it will also ruin the delicate combination of asparagus with truffle.

What You Need

  • 4 Asparagus
  • 2 Eggs
  • 25 grams of Butter
  • 25 grams of Summer Truffle
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Cook or steam the asparagus. Make sure they are just done. Cook the eggs for 8-9 minutes. The yolk should not be completely firm. Cool the eggs in cold water, peel and mash with a fork. Add the finely chopped parsley and some black pepper. Taste. Melt the butter.
Put two asparagus per person on the plate, pour the warm butter over the asparagus, making sure they are fully covered, add the egg and finish by sprinkling the grated truffle. Poor a glass of excellent Gewürztraminer and enjoy the start of summer by eating the very last of this years asparagus.

 

Apricot Chutney

One For The Cupboard

Something you have to have in your cupboard (or refrigerator in our case): chutney. Why? Because once in a while you don’t feel like making a sauce when you eat duck, rib eye or grilled lamb chops. Or because you want to eat something nice, simple and vegetarian, like rice with lentils and, there we are, chutney.
If there would be a top three of main ingredients for chutney it would read mango-tomato-apricot. The basic recipe is the same for all three; it’s a matter of adjusting the quantities and choosing the spices.
Chutney needs to integrate, much more than jam or marmalade. So cook it for an hour or so and leave it in a jar for at least a week before using it. The fact that it needs to integrate will create a hopefully nice surprise when opening the jar. If not, there is little you can do (eat more quickly, give a jar to a not too close friend et cetera).
We use just a bit of sugar so our chutney needs to be stored in the refrigerator. Too much sugar (200 grams on 1 kilo of mango for instance) will only hide the taste of the mango. Chutney is a balance of sweet (fresh fruit, onion, garlic, cinnamon), sour (vinegar), bitter (the skin of the apricot or tomato), spiciness (ginger, red chilli, garlic) and depth (cardamom, nutmeg, cumin). Too much sugar will only disturb the balance. Cooking is about pairing tastes and textures, not about creating a simple, one-dimensional product.
Why would we make apricot chutney if it’s our number 3? Simple: we like the touch of bitterness that comes with the apricot.
When making mango chutney, try using unripe mangos. The chutney will be much tastier and complex!

What You Need

  • 1 kilo stoned Apricots (meaning 1,25 kilo of Apricots)
  • 2 Shallots
  • Olive Oil
  • 2+2 gloves Fresh and Cooked Garlic
  • 1 Red Chilli
  • 100 ml Vinegar
  • 100 ml Water
  • 50 grams of Sugar
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Spices such as
    • Cardamom
    • Mustard Seed
    • Coriander
    • Cinnamon
    • Nutmeg
    • Cumin

What You Do

Stone and quarter the apricots. Cut the shallots in 4 and slice (not too thin). Slice the fresh garlic. Same with the seeded red chilli. Cut let’s say 5 cm of ginger in small bits. Start by glazing the shallots for 10 minutes in olive oil, making sure they will enhance the sweetness of the chutney. Then add all other ingredients to the pan, mix, add the grated ginger, the spices of your choice, mix and bring slowly to a simmer. We used vinegar and water given the acidity of our apricots. If your apricots are really sweet and ripe use 200 ml of vinegar. Spices wise we prefer using cardamom, cinnamon, and a touch of cumin and nutmeg. Leave to simmer for at least one hour. Stir occasionally but gently. After an hour increase the heat and transfer to very, very clean glass jars. Close the jars, leave them to cool a bit, then put in cold water and later on transfer to the refrigerator.

 

Consommé of Yellow Tomatoes

Clarification

A bit of magic in your kitchen! This soup requires ‘clarification’ in order to become a true consommé. Clarification is a simple and very effective way of making a liquid clear, regardless if it’s cold (wine) of warm. The goal of clarification is to remove all insoluble matter before serving (or bottling in case of wine). The ‘matter’ is in most cases too small to be removed using a filter. Hence clarification. In this case we use a mixture of tomatoes, basil and egg white, the so-called clarifique.
We use yellow tomatoes to create a bit of a surprise. When you use red tomatoes your guests will immediately guess it’s a consommé of tomatoes. Using yellow tomatoes will definitely surprise them. Plus we think the yellow ones are a bit more gently, fresher, more refined.
You could also use all of the tomatoes for the soup and add ravioli to the consommé: turning it into Ravioli in Brodo.
A quick comment before you start : it’s a bit of work and it requires a bit of patience as well. It’s not your ordinary soup!

What You Need

  • 6 Yellow Tomatoes
  • 2 Shallots
  • 1 Glove of Fresh Garlic
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Bay Leaf
  • Black Pepper
  • Water
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • 2 Egg whites
  • Garlic
  • Basil

What You Do

Peel all 6 tomatoes by leaving them for 10-15 seconds in gently boiling water. Cool and peel, one by one. Keep the skin. Set 2 tomatoes aside. Chop the 4 tomatoes in smaller bits. Add butter and olive oil to the pan and gently glace the chopped shallot for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the finely chopped red pepper and leave for 1 minute. Now add the tomatoes and the peel and fry for a minute or so. Then add thyme, rosemary, parsley, bay leaf and water. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 45 minutes. Taste and if so required add a touch of black pepper. If you do so, leave for an extra 5 minutes. Adding pepper later on is not a good idea because you want a completely clear soup. Pass through a sieve and cool to room temperature.
Remove seeds and the internal white from the two tomatoes, keeping the outside of the tomatoes only. Set the outside apart. Using a bowl create a mixture of tomato left overs, cooked garlic, lots of basil and the two egg whites. Mix with a spoon and then blender a few seconds. This is the clarifique.
Transfer the soup to a pan and add the clarifique. Stir with a spoon, making sure the mixture is homogenous. Start heating the mixture gently, until just below boiling. Some people will argue it’s should be 80º Celsius, exactly, which we think is not the case. You don’t want it to boil because that will destroy the funny looking cake on top of the mixture. Leave it for 30 minutes. No lid required.
Now use a slotted spoon to remove most of the cake. You can simply throw it away. Pour the liquid into a sieve lined with wet cheesecloth (or a clean cotton kitchen towel if you cannot find a cheesecloth, as long it’s odour free it will work; if not odour free soak in water for 24 hours). And Lo and Behold: you have a clear soup, a true consommé! Just taste it and be surprised! Herbs, even basil and of course tomato.
Cut the remains of the 2 tomatoes in small chunks and put them in a warm soup plate and transfer to the table. Pour the consommé around the tomato and enjoy!