Whew, it's been a long winter. But I find that some of the first things to grow and mature and announce the arrival of spring and early summer are cheery pink, especially rhubarb and strawberries. What better color to wake up our winter-tired eyes and our root-weary tastebuds?
The Boy and The Girl were still in school last week, so I was able to go to my local PYO strawberry farm and power-pick some fruit (read: no visits to feed the animals, no begging for ice cream). The farmer says that strawberry season, due to a confluence of weather-related factors, is running about 10-14 days ahead of schedule this year, so it's already nearly at an end. And blueberries are coming up fast behind them, perhaps as soon as next week. I was able to pick more than 8 pounds of berries quickly, and then it was back home to decide how to dole out the juicy prizes.
I made a batch of jam with most of them (see my jam post from June of last year), and decided to make dessert with the rest. My family loves clafoutis (read Bea's funny treatise on clafoutis at http://www.latartinegourmande.com/) with any kind of fruit, from blueberry to pear, but most recipes I read always say, "Use any kind of fruit EXCEPT strawberries, since they are too wet."
Well, strawberries was what I had, and that's what was going to get clafoutis-ed. I decided to adapt a recipe for pear and chocolate clafoutis that I learned last year at a cooking class in Paris (long story, excellent class!), and I knew that I'd be making six personal-sized desserts in the small, shallow white ramekins I bought just for this purpose.
The oven preheated to 375 while the ramekins got buttered and dusted with sugar. I beat 2 eggs for a minute or two, then added a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, a half-cup of flour, and a cup of thick Greek yogurt (you can also use creme fraiche, like we did in Paris, or even sour cream). I added a half-cup of milk and beat the whole thing till it was smooth. Also into the bowl went a small slug of creme de cassis, which my cooking instructor added to all three courses we cooked with her! (Had to carry a bottle of that good stuff back with me, I'm nearly down to the dregs now, gotta make another trip!) I sliced the berries lengthwise and placed about 10 slices in the bottom of the ramekins, poured the egg-milk-yogurt mix carefully over the berries, and then--with the edge of a paring knife--shaved some bittersweet chocolate shreds over each portion. A little sprinkle of sugar on top and they were ready for 20-30 minutes in the oven. You know they're done when the edges are brown but the center is just set.
Yes, I made a little strawberry fan on top like they do in nice restaurants. Yes, my kids were surprised that I actually "decorated" their food. But they got over it mighty quick when they got to have warm strawberry clafoutis for snack after school.
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