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Cherry Clafoutis in its glory.

Hi my faithful readers,

Do you sometimes get that overwhelmed feeling? That’s where I am today. I so want to share with you everything that is swirling around in my head. But where do I find the time? Since returning from France with a million ideas to post, I find that my garden, my home, my real workplace, my dogs, and everything else is catching up with me..so be patient and as soon as I get caught up, my posts will come as regularly as you have come to expect. For now, enjoy the season of cherries.

I know summer has arrived when the cherries have finally made their appearance at my local markets. Worldwide shipping has made it possible to have peaches, nectarines and plums in out-of-peak season but there is only one cherry season – thank goodness.

Wild sweet cherries along the trail.

The French love their cherries. Most homes I visited in the Dordogne have backyards abundant with fruit trees and they all have a couple of cherry trees. The hiking trails of southern France are dotted with wild cherry trees and hikers often stop for a quick nibble. Last year while hiking in the Perigord region, I was fortunate to experience this treat, along with the fraises des bois or wild strawberries that grew along the roadside.

Our hiking group enjoying a snack courtesy of Mother Nature. Note the cherry trees on the right.

My friend Jacques invited me to have drinks with friends of his in Villeneuve. When we arrived, our hostess was in the kitchen, her table overflowing with the harvest of her cherry trees. She explained that it was taking her all day just to pit the cherries so she could preserve her bounty. Of course, she will make the French traditional dessert, clafoutis as well.

Fresh, ruby cherries await their future.

Clafoutis is a country French dessert originating from the Limousin region. This rustic cherry-studded pancake, pronounced kla-foo-TEE, is a favorite among many French households. In fact, everywhere I was invited, it was cherry clafoutis – for an afternoon snack or for dessert. One thing that surprised me was that the home cooks do not pit their cherries. You just plow through the spongy cake, carefully chewing the cherry before removing the pit from your mouth somewhat gracefully. Upon researching the cherry and this recipe, I discovered that there is a very good reason for leaving the pits intact in the cherry. Traditionally the cherries were left unpitted so the kernels could release their delicate almond flavor as they baked.

Beautifully puffed straight out of the oven.

The recipe I’ve included here is from Joanne Weir in a Fine Cooking Magazine. Here is a link for the recipe. http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/cherry-almond-clafoutis.aspx

I chose this recipe above all others because the sliced almonds gave it a sexier appearance and I liked the fact that the cherries are soaked in Kirsch, a cherry liquor, to give the clafoutis a bit more flavor.

Cherry-dotted crust – so lovely!

My recipe turned out perfectly and I loved how the cherries embraced the edges of the pie dish, forming a pretty crust. You might want to make this to celebrate Bastille Day, this Saturday, July the 14th.

Warm clafoutis with a dust of powdered sugar makes an elegant, yet simple summer dessert. Serve with ice cream or crème fraîche for added decadence.

Preserving and canning are also my summer passions but this year I wanted to do something other than making jam. After perusing various cherry recipes, I landed upon Brandied Cherries. Yum! These too are easy to make, will be lovely holiday gifts and delicious spooned over some vanilla ice cream.  The recipe, which I successfully halved, is from Epicurious http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Brandied-Black-Cherries-102090

Poached cherries ready for their brandy syrup bath.

Spoon the cherries into pretty jars, let them macerate in a cool dark place for a few months (if you can wait) and you will be rewarded with the fresh taste of cherries with a hint of brandy. Sophisticated.

Glistening cherries will sleep for several months to intensify the brandy flavor. Spoon over ice cream and use the liquid as a base for a spritzer or champagne cocktail.

Fruit desserts are my favorite so look for more creations in upcoming posts. I just bought a pound of blueberries so I will be experimenting this week with new ideas. Until next week, a bientot!