Hello friends and fellow campers! Gourmet Girl Denise here from Le Petit Saint Barnabé in Mouliherne, France.
We have had some unseasonably warm weather here in the Loire River Valley for the past three weeks, but alas today the skies clouded up and much-needed rain has blessed us with its presence. This is the view from my office window across the road to the park and lake. Note rain swollen clouds. Yesterday a mated pair of white swans landed on the lake. I ran for my camera but missed the shot!
It has been a very dry winter here, which is the reverse of what all of my friends in my home town of Santa Barbara, California have been experiencing of late. The torrential rains there have ended a seven-year drought and the reservoirs and creeks are full! This is very good news! Here, well, not so good. Last year in March we had severe downpours followed by a record, hot summer. Hopefully, we will get more rain before the heat of summer dries up all of the soothing green.
Meanwhile, the fruit trees here have been blooming like mad! And those few weeks of warm weather brought out the lizards, bees and wild orchids. Here’s one about to bloom.
How about that spotted foliage??? I can’t wait to see the flower. It is Orchis Mascula for my horticultural friends. I also have Orchis Apifera or Bee orchid growing on my property but the foliage is not near as spectacular as this one. I will send photos of the flowers once they bloom.
Some of you may know that in Santa Barbara I worked as a garden designer for forty years, hence the constant gardening and horticultural references on my part. Gourmet Girls Lindsey, Gail and I wrote and published our cookbook, The Gourmet Girls Go Camping while we were also working our regular jobs. This was not an easy task for any of us. But we did it! And we couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishment.
The air here is perfumed with the scent of millions of flowering fruit trees in the region. Here, in what is a temperate climate, we can grow many varieties of apples, plums, pears, peaches, and cherries. I have two big cherry trees on my property. Here are some of the cherry blooms with my house in the background.
Speaking of cherries, have you ever made a cherry clafoutis? This is a wonderful dish that is not really sweet. It’s more like a fruit custard. Delicious! I know you folks in Southern California won’t be able to make this with cherries you pick from your own garden but try it anyway when cherries are in season. It is so good for breakfast!
Cherry Clafoutis Recipe
Traditional clafoutis is made with cherries that still have their pits. The pits give some almond flavor to the dish. But prepared that way can be a little more difficult to eat, so in this recipe, we’ve pitted the cherries first. You can leave them in if you want.
Note that the texture of clafoutis is like a sturdy custard, so if it feels a little rubbery, that’s just how it’s supposed to be.
- 2 cups of fresh sweet cherries, pitted
- 2 tablespoons of blanched slivered almonds
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of milk (2% or whole milk)
- 3/4 teaspoon of almond extract (can sub 2 teaspoons of Amaretto)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar for dusting
1 Butter and flour baking dish, scatter with cherries and slivered almonds: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9X9 or 10X7 baking dish. Scatter the cherries and slivered almonds over the bottom of the dish.
2 Make batter with eggs, sugar, salt, and flour: Whisk the eggs and sugars together until smooth. Whisk in the salt and flour until smooth.
3 Add the milk, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
4 Pour batter into the baking dish over the cherries and slivered almonds.
5 Bake: Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Check about halfway through the baking and if the top is getting well-browned tent it loosely with aluminum foil.
6 Remove from oven to cool: When you pull it out of the oven it will wiggle a bit which is normal. Place on a wire rack to cool. The clafoutis will have puffed up quite a bit and will deflate while cooling.
7 Dust with powdered sugar: When cool dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar. Serve.
Enjoy my friends! What have you been cooking lately? Let us know here.
We hope you are having a wonderful spring and that you are getting out into nature! It will cure all ills!
Denise, Lindsey, and Gail