Naughty Clafoutis

I have gone mad, as mad as a hatter, completely cracker-pot. I am not certain I have ever done this before, usually I am rather good, buying local(ish) food: fruits and vegetables in season, trying to minimise their carbon foot-prints. Until a few weeks ago, I was happy pushing my trolley in a supermarket, I shall not name but to which I have not returned for fear of the curse still holding; so I was browsing through the winter fruits when I saw them, snug and juicy in their transparent box, conjuring in me visions of spring blossoms.
For my defence, I have got to say that I AM FED UP WITH WINTER: winter-clothes, winter-food, winter-what-ever if it carries on I might go madder and dance through the streets dressed in a T-shirt dress, bare-footed, eating strawberries. However wrapped in my coat and gloves, I stood still in front of a punnet of cherries, I did not want to know where they came from, I did not examine the label, all what I could think of….. was : CLAFOUTIS. Lovely moist cherry clafoutis with crunchy top, bliss. Yes, I did seize the punnet, ran home, and baked.

Cherry Clafoutis

serve 6:
Tail the cherries, do not pit them (wash and dry only), the stones will add flavour to this cake.
2dl of milk (20 centiliter)
3 eggs
150g of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of sugar
750g of fresh black sweet cherries
2 tsp of sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of unsalted butter

To make the batter in a blender, as you would for pancake batter: combine the milk, eggs, flour, sugar and whirl them at high speed for a few seconds. To make the batter by hand, stir the flour and eggs together in a large mixing bowl, and slowly stir in the milk, sugar. Beat with a whisk until the flour lumps disappear and the batter is liquid and smooth.
Leave the batter rest for 2 hours, when it is time to use it, preheat the oven mark 5-6
Pat the cherries completely dry with paper towels, then spread them evenly in a shallow, buttered baking dish, pour in the batter.
Sprinkle with the sugar
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven(thermostat 5-6) for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch. The batter will raise, then fall again when out of the over. serve warm

Can I freeze egg yolks?

I have been getting an egg related question. I have asked myself that very same thing before, feeling guilty about throwing perfectly good egg yolks away, however for some reason, I never answered me it.
Now all has changed, people expect me to answer and I would not like to disappoint so I did what I should have done some time ago: research. The answer is Yes absolutely, yolks can be left in the fridge for 3 days, preferably in an air tight container however they freeze very well and can remain in the freezer as long as 4 months.
On the other hand, I have just read about a nifty idea: liquid egg white in carton, like that of milk, sold in supermarket have a look, wonders never cease.
photo from flickr.com

A Recipe from Texas : Grady Spear's Chicken-Fried steak

When I asked for your recipes, I would have never anticipated such an exciting trip of discovery. The idea is to cook & review favorites from around the world, the first to arrive was from Frank in Texas. Frank thanks to you:
I got to explored new ingredients and a very different way of cooking, see I don't fry: calories are my "betes noires", my personal enemies. So this was a first, I was very pleased to see that there was no excess fat thanks to two little tips included in that recipe.
I also met, even if only virtually, Grady's Spear, certainly worth mentioning as it is not every day that a cowboy appears in my kitchen.
Having never heard of Kosher salt before, I wanted to spread my new found knowledge and got talking about it, just to be told that it is also used in Spain to tenderise meat with fantastic results. So all in all a brilliant first interactive adventure. if you want to participate too e-mail me your favorite too.

Ah, I have a confession to make the photo is before gravy. Without further revelations, I leave you with the recipe :

Just When You Think It’s All Over … Christmas 101 by Rick Rodgers

With fat/shrove/Pancake Tuesday, Valentine’s Day and a few February birthdays looming, you might think that reviewing 101 Christmas recipes is the equivalent of committing writing suicide. When I opened the envelope and got a glimpse of jolly gingerbread men and sugar-decorated stars, my first thought was “What on @@@@”"”???!!! am I going to do with this?”
OK, stay calm, start with 101 (that is less scary than the other word in the title): Hassle-free fun, entertaining mysteries explained to the layman, if you look at it that way, it is not so bad.
So I opened the book and I was hooked. This is all what a cookbook should be. No wonder that the author was awarded the American food and entertainment award. Rick Rodgers is a outstanding cooking teacher. Christmas 101 communicates with passion. One gets a pinch of insight into the author’s life and a dollop of historical info. For example, Why will you usually find a big roast on a Christmas dinner table? (answer at the end of my post). Each recipe has its personal intro, there are timetables, menu planners, lists (I love lists) and to come back to “101,” great tipsheets not only for Xmas but for several different holiday parties.
I am not suggesting that you serve a whole Turkey with Cornbread Succotash Stuffing napped with Bourbon Gravy to your special loved one on Valentine’s Day, but Marinated Shrimps with White Wine Beurre Blanc should do the trick nicely (despite its title, it is so well explained that nothing can’t go wrong). In the meantime, I’ll leave you with Leek, Pancetta & Chevre tartlets which, in my case, dropped their “let” to turn into tarte as I don’t have any small moulds. I was astound to read that the dough contained cream-cheese, but it works a treat and can simply be pressed instead of rolling.

Leek, Pancetta & Chèvre Tartlets



Makes 24 tarlets

Dough 1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Filling
1 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped (Pancetta [bacon cured in salt] is available at hypermarkets or Italian markets)
2/3 cup half and half
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Fresh parsley leaves
Dough
Blend flour and salt in processor 5 seconds.
Add butter and cream cheese. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form.
Gather dough; shape into 6-inch-long log. Wrap and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Cut log into 24 1/4-inch-thick rounds.
Press 1 round into each cup of 2 nonstick 12-cup mini muffin pans; freeze 30 minutes.
Make the filling:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté 10 minutes; cool.
Heat oil in small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté until crisp, about 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels.
Whisk half and half and next 3 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Mix in goat cheese, then leeks and pancetta.
Spoon filling into shells. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F, Bake until filling is set and crust edges are golden, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans 5 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill in pans. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven 12 minutes.)
Using small knife, cut around tartlets to loosen. Turn out tartlets and arrange on platter; garnish with parsley leaf and serve warm or at room temperature.
……. The reason why we get roasts at Xmas is because up to one hundred years ago, the main butchering took place in the winter when it was cold and meat could be refrigerated naturally. In Roman times the “Birthday of the Invincible Sun God” Mithras took place on the 25th December: big feast day. When Christianity established itself ,Mithras’ birthday was ursuped but the old pagan traditions die hard and serving big roasts on the most important winter holiday never went away.
book cover picture from amazon.

Pebble Soup Has a New Toy

You'll remember how after a month writing this blog I was sooooo happy to be read in 22 countries, I think at the time it was the sheer number of countries which was the thrill. The number has not increased much but the countries have changed, so it is time to go back to the loveliness of the pebble soup idea and for this
I need your recipes, but don't worry there is not much work involved
See the map (would be difficult to avoid) this is our new toy, dot will lit up with readers, though at the moment they don't seem to do so, the idea is to let everybody know what people like to cook around the world. Either via comment or e-mail, I will wait for your contribution, you tell me which recipe is popular with you/your area/your country, a link to that recipe would be great, I shop for the ingredients. cook it, take pictures, some get to eat it, and I will report back. It could be a taste of your next holidays, I am not sure what is eaten in..., well in lots of places, take Canada for example. Let's play, I'll be cooking your contributions.

Salmon en croûte


A impressive centrepiece for diner parties. Quick and simple to make, the perfect recipe for beginners. A dish often suggested for pre-Christmas parties but served with a fresh green salad we could almost imagine that spring has arrived. In fact this dish is all about tremors of excitment, anticipation and at present I must say that what I am looking forward is the softness of spring, so let's rephrase the introduction:
A impressive centrepiece for diner parties and with Easter around the corner let's get ready. There is "an-a-maze-ing" number of variations for this dish. It is often recommended to use 2 fillets so that the slices are not too "heavy". I normally use the whole fish, boned, so far nobody has complained not chocked. You could also shape the pastry like a fish using a tea spoon to make the scales and an olive for the eye.
But let not get carried away, I got my recipe from a "celebrity chef". Not the one who is throwing knifes at you, neither the other whose merchandise-dishes are shaped like of her boops. No, a simple, personable, joyful guy whose TV programmes make you want to follow him around the country when he looks for fresh fish and sea-food: Rick Stein.
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