18 April 2019

Cherry Clafoutis - Clafoutis aux Cerises

Cherry Clafoutis - Clafoutis aux Cerises - the classic rustic yet elegant French dessert / www.delightfulrepast.com

Cherry Clafoutis (pronounced cla-foo-TEE) is the original clafoutis from the Limousin region of France. Limousin is also the home of the famous oak used in barrels for aging wine and brandy. But that is neither here nor there. We’re talking dessert. One so good it spread from there all over the country in the 19th century.

Throughout winter I was making Cranberry-Apple Clafoutis—I like to eat with the seasons—but now that cherry season is nearly upon us, I could no longer put off the classic Cherry Clafoutis. But the season isn’t quite here, so I used frozen cherries for this one. I have no patience.


Cherry Clafoutis - Clafoutis aux Cerises - the classic rustic yet elegant French dessert / www.delightfulrepast.com


The texture of this rustic yet elegant dessert, somewhere between a cake and a custard, needs to be right. Where cooks can go wrong is adding too much flour, making the clafoutis decidedly cakey or at least cakier than it should be. But, to paraphrase Hamlet:

To pit, or not to pit: that is the question. Traditionally the pits are left in, supposedly to allow them to impart a bit of almond-y flavor to the dish; but I think it was because some lazy busy cook decided to skip that step, made up that little story and, voilà, people fell for it! You know I love tradition, perhaps more than most, but I’m also fond of my teeth.

Not to mention, Mr Delightful does not like dealing with pits privately, let alone publicly. Nor would he like sitting at the dinner table watching several people dealing with pits simultaneously. And where would they put them, I ask you.


Cherry Clafoutis - Clafoutis aux Cerises - the classic rustic yet elegant French dessert / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Cherry Clafoutis


(Makes 8 servings)

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 to 2 1/2 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries, (from about 16 ounces/454 grams whole cherries)
OR 1 10-ounce bag frozen organic pitted sweet cherries
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon brandy

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 dip-and-sweep cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (10 fluid ounces/296 ml) milk

Garnish: powdered sugar

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Butter a Pyrex Easy Grab 9.5-Inch Deep Dish Pie Plate, not the standard 9-inch pie plate, with the 1/2 tablespoon softened butter. In a small dish, melt the tablespoon of butter and leave to cool slightly.

2 Spread the pitted cherries (if using frozen cherries, there’s no need to thaw) in prepared dish in a single layer. Stir together 1/8 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over the fruit.

3 In a 1-quart glass measure, whisk together the eggs, all but 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar (save it to sprinkle on top), melted butter, brandy, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt. Whisk in the flour and then the milk, adding it gradually at first, to make a smooth batter. If it’s not as smooth as it should be, you can hit it with an immersion blender. Don’t drag out your blender for this one; a whisk will get the job done.


4 Pour the batter over the fruit. Sprinkle on the reserved tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until puffed and golden and browning around the edges and pulling away from the edges of the pan. Then it falls; that is perfectly normal.

5 Let stand 10 to 20 minutes before serving warm. Add a dusting of powdered sugar, if you like, just before serving. 

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support.

Jean

11 April 2019

Grated Carrot Salad - Salade de Carottes Rapees

Grated Carrot Salad - Salade de Carottes Rapees - French Bistro Classic My Way / www.delightfulrepast.com

A simple grated carrot salad, Salade de Carottes Râpées, is one of the classics of modern French cuisine, found on every bistro menu, or so I’m told. Of course, I’ve put my own spin on it, so I should probably delete that French name.

Lemon juice is the acid for the classic version, but I think sweet carrots are just calling out for a good red wine vinegar. And I’ve skipped the chopped flat-leaf parsley and added chopped capers (I love capers). Les câpres.


Grated Carrot Salad - Salade de Carottes Rapees - French Bistro Classic My Way / www.delightfulrepast.com


It’s a salad that’s not supposed to be swimming in dressing, and this small amount of dressing is perfect for this amount of carrots. Doing a pound and a half of carrots? Just up the oil and vinegar to 3 tablespoons each.

This is one of those dishes that is so fast and so easy, you can’t quite believe it could possibly be so good. Are you a carrot salad fan?


Grated Carrot Salad - Salade de Carottes Rapees - French Bistro Classic My Way / www.delightfulrepast.com


Grated Carrot Salad - 

Salade de Carottes Râpées


(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) carrots
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained, chopped
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 Scrub, peel and grate the carrots. 

Note: For long shreds, I cut the carrots into about 4.5-inch lengths to fit the big feed tube and use the medium shredding disc on my Cuisinart DLC-2011CHBY food processor.

2 Put the carrots in a 1.5-quart bowl and add the capers.

3 In 1-cup glass measure, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add to the carrots and toss to mix well. This small amount of dressing is exactly the amount needed for this amount of carrots. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support. 

Jean

04 April 2019

Popcorn and Caramel Corn and Clarified Butter

Perfect Popcorn - Crunchy Caramel Corn - Popped with Clarified Butter! (this photo - Caramel Corn) / www.delightfulrepast.com

Five years ago I wrote about conquering my culinary nemesis, Popcorn. After trying all the helpful hints readers had given me a couple years before in their comments on my initial post, Popcorn - My Culinary Nemesis, I put together a method that works perfectly for me every time. 

I’m still using the same pan, a lightweight but heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan, the perfect stovetop popcorn pan, one I can actually lift and shake several times during the popping rather than just scraping it back and forth on the stove. Other lessons learned are in the directions below. 

Step 2 (below) is the single most important tip that turned me into a popcorn master! Those 30 seconds off the heat after adding the popcorn kernels to the pan, hot from popping the 4 test kernels, make all the difference. I have few to no unpopped kernels, ever!

At first I was using organic cold-pressed canola oil as a better alternative to the usual highly refined oils, but I wasn’t really happy about it. So a few years later, when I realized that extra virgin olive oil has quite a decent smoke point (375F/191C), I tried that and it worked beautifully.

But that was a couple years ago, and I got to thinking about how clarified butter has a really high smoke point (485F/252C) and offers the added benefit of killing two birds with one stone, cooking the popcorn and buttering it at the same time.


Perfect Popcorn - Crunchy Caramel Corn - Popped with Clarified Butter! (this photo - Popcorn) / www.delightfulrepast.com
This photo is Popcorn; the other two photos are Caramel Corn.

How to Make Clarified Butter

Clarified butter takes about 15 minutes to make and keeps in the refrigerator for several months. To make 2/3 to 3/4 cup, melt 2 sticks (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter in a 1-quart saucepan, bring to a boil, cook over medium heat for maybe 10 minutes (long enough to cook off the water content), skimming off the foam floating on the top. Let stand for a few minutes, give it a final skim, and pour carefully into a half-pint jar, leaving behind any milk solids on the bottom of the pan. 

The foam and milk solids have a lot of flavor, so you can stir them into something you’re making or put them on your vegetables rather than putting them in the trash.

Do leave a comment and share your likes and dislikes and tips for popcorn and its variations. I should tell you, my caramel corn is much less sweet than most, and I hope you'll try it this less-sweet way. Also, for those who care about such things, it contains no corn syrup.


Perfect Popcorn - Crunchy Caramel Corn - Popped with Clarified Butter! (this photo - Caramel Corn) / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Popcorn 


(Makes about 10 cups) 

1/3 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) clarified organic unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 Put 4 popcorn kernels ("test" kernels) in heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan (I use the Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 3-Quart Covered Saucepan) along with the clarified butter and salt. Heat over medium to medium-high heat. 

2 When the 4 kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat, and count 30 seconds. 

3 Return the pan to medium to medium-high heat. When it really starts popping, shake the pan gently back and forth over (or slightly above) the burner, holding the lid askew (at least from time to time) to let the soggy-making steam out. 

4 As soon as the popping slows to several seconds between pops, dump it into a wide 4- or 5-quart bowl. If you like more butter on your popcorn, melt a tablespoon of it in the hot popcorn pan and drizzle it over the popcorn, tossing well to distribute the butter evenly. 


Caramel Corn 


(Makes about 10 cups) 

1/3 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) clarified organic unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 packed cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter  
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon water 
1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 Preheat oven to 250F/120C/Gas1/2. Line an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Measure popcorn kernels and clarified butter. Before starting to pop the corn, in 1-quart saucepan start melting together the sugar, butter and the tablespoon of water over low heat, stirring a few times.


2 Pop the corn as directed in Popcorn recipe, but don't use salt and don't add butter. Pour into a very large bowl (to give you room for tossing). 

3 Increase heat to medium and cook caramel until it has been bubbling for one minute. Stir in the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of water; it will foam up. 

4 Immediately drizzle the foamy sauce over the popcorn, tossing well to coat. Spread out on prepared half-sheet pan. Bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support. 

Jean
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