Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clementine Clafouti (Isn't that Just the Best Name!?)

Because I am mildly Type A, I decided to go to the grocery store last night at 9:30pm and buy some missing ingredients to make a Clementine Clafouti. I was planning on making one this weekend for my Oscar party and I always do a test run of a dish before I serve it to my friends. So, I thought, no time better than a rainy Wednesday night. I came home with my milk and cream and a whole crapload of Clementines and started the experiment.
I buttered my pie dish, floured it, and started on the batter. Clafouti is just so simple, and really not bad for you or calorie dense when it comes to desserts, which is part of the reason I love it. The batter is pretty much eggs, sugar, pinch of salt, milk, heavy whipping cream, and flour. You whisk it up and pour it over the fruit. The clementines were a bit more high maintenance than I expected. I did not necessarily expect them to be low-maintenance, I just hadn't put much thought into it. Do you have any idea how long it takes to peel and de-pith a dozen or so Clementines? Okay, it really doesn't take that long, maybe 15 minutes, but still!
I laid the Clementines in the pie plate, added the batter as high as I dared, and stuck the whole kit and caboodle in the oven. [Don't just the Clementines look so pretty in the plate? I thought that they were a side to behold.]

As I sat in my living room waiting patiently for my Clafouti goodness to emerge a couple of things came to mind. As opposed to other fruit such as apples or peaches, citrus actually loses its sugar and sweetness when cooked and can become quite bitter. Hmmm, is this going to taste like marmalade? (Now, if we were in English class right now, what I just did would be called "foreshadowing.") (Another sidenote: I really don't like marmalade. Never have. And I love jams and preserves, and almost anything citrus, so my dislike of marmalade is odd and unfitting of me).
I checked on my Clafouti numerous times throughout the cooking process to see how it was coming along. And it was not cooking as quickly as I thought it would. Problem Number 1. Truth be told, I am lucky enough to rent a flat with one of the world's worst ovens. (Ok, I am sure that in some third world country there is an oven worse than mine, but I live in San Francisco. It is just old so you preheat it and wait and hope that it might be warm enough, the broiler is a joke, and it is not as hot as it should be.) I typically expect to add time to my recipes when I cook them, so I thought the Clafouti would take about 5 or 10 minutes longer. It took about 30 minutes longer!
I removed my beautiful Clafouti from the oven and I must say it smelled divine.

I let it cool for a few minutes and then flitted some powdered sugar on top of it and decided to serve it to my roommate and a friend of hers. (I took one bite, made my judgment, and decided not to serve it Sunday. I'm not really into sweets anyway). They ate their pieces dutifully and told me what I already knew. It was bitter. The Clafouti part of it, the batter, was lovely and sweet, but the Clementines themselves had turned into these sort of tough bitter pills. Not so good.

I explained to them that I even chose the sweetest Clementines of the bunch. I truly had one segment from each piece of citrus that I used (that made them both laugh too. They think I am crazy, I said it was simple quality control). My roommate then asked me why I made it then and not simply on Sunday. My reply: because how awful if this was the only dessert I had to serve. Her reply: oh, I would just serve it and say, sorry, it's not great. If you have been following my blog, you now see why the French Onion Soup Incident will not be and was not a one time occurrence.
Anyway, my lesson learned. But I also realized that all was not lost. Hmmm, I think that this particular clafouti would actually be quite nice for a brunch. Or for dessert with some super sweet whipped cream. Or with shaved dark chocolate over the top. Wait, maybe it wasn't a disaster. Ooh, I could flambe it with Grand Marnier! I could mix in raspberries to sweeten it up. I will be the Clafouti making Queen!
Sorry, I'm back.
Kids- when cooking at home, please try recipes before you decide to host a lavish dinner party and end up having to call Domino's at 9pm while you're tearing up in the kitchen and your friends keep saying "it's really not that bad." Or "I mean, salt and sugar look exactly the same, anyone could mix them up." Or the worse "we still love you regardless."
I have not given up on the Clafouti as a concept though. When summer comes around I am sure I will be trying to de-pit dozens of cherries so as to make the traditional clafouti from Limousin, France. But for Sunday, I am thinking figs! Or what else is in season? Oooh, cranberries. Dates and almond slivers. More to come...


Miranda Duncan said...

Hi, Evie. Nice entry. One of Suz's best dishes is clafouti - and even if it's a bit "run of the mill" it's amazing with cherries.

eatingplum said...

Hey, at least you didn't make it on Sunday. I don't know why, but I always decide to try a new recipe when company comes over and it backfires. :)

My friend said peach clafouti is the best so that might be one to try.

Can't wait to see pics of your Oscar party!