Almost all produce is available year round now, which makes me sad. I LOVED seeing the first strawberries and asparagus hit the market in March. Lovely harbingers of spring announcing the beginning of the abundance of produce to follow. For the most part I resist buying produce that isn’t seasonal. I prefer to buy local and organic produce which helps me stay closer to the rhythm of the seasons, which is why I was so excited to see local cherries in the market on Saturday. I bought a nice big bag of them. Growing up in Oakland, CA we had cherry and fig trees down the block. We’d pick fistfuls and sit on the curb and eat them spitting the pits in the dirt. There’s still a part of me that feels like Cherries out to be free!
When Laura and I had Bombar’s we participated in an event at the Oakland Museum honoring local chef’s and local produce and our contribution was Cherry Chutney. It was a huge hit and the recipe was frequently requested. You can imagine the fun of pitting tons of cherries to accommodate the needs of a restaurant. I’m surprised my fingertips aren’t still red!
I first encountered Clafouti when I was working for The Pleasure of Cooking Magazine on the East Coast. Not only had I never heard of it, I didn’t have a clue how to pronounce it. Just about everyone at the magazine was a Francophile fluent in French and I felt horribly inferior. Fortunately that didn’t cloud my ability so know when something was good and to add it to my repertoire.
1 quart pitted cherries
1 T finely chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic minced
1 C sugar
2/4 C vinegar (apple cider, or raspberry fruit vinegar if you’d prefer)
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole five star anise
1 C dried cherries
Combine all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves, reduce to a simmer and cook about five minutes or so until the chutney has thickened. Allow to cool before storing. This makes about 3C of chutney. It will keep for a long time in the fridge. It is wonderful on grilled pork and duck and is super good on top of roasted sweet potatoes dolloped with goat cheese.
2 C pitted cherries
1 C milk
1 C sugar
½ C flour
Zest of one lemon
¼ t salt
1 t vanilla
3 T butter, browned
2 T slivered almonds
Whipped Cream (optional)
Butter a 9-inch pie plate. Heat oven to 375.
Place the cherries in a single layer in the pie plate. Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, and flour until smooth (you can combine these ingredients in a blender or food processor to make it easier). Add the lemon zest, salt, and vanilla. Lastly whisk in the browned butter, pour the batter over the cherries and sprinkle the almonds on top. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. You can serve the clafouti warm with softly whipped cream. I like to flavor my cream with grand marnier or amaretto for this dessert. I also like to eat clafouti for breakfast with a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt.