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Archive for July, 2011

My first introduction to Clafouti was during my stay in France while in college. I was lucky and fortunate to be able to spend 3 months in Tours, France.

I have had this obsession with France ever since I was 8. It was due to the numerous Alexandre Dumas novels from my neighbor’s book collection. My sister and I spent countless hours reading them to each other. Since my family decided to leave Romania, my sister and I were not able to go to school during this time. The waiting period lasted for 3 years, so we had enough time to go through the entire collection. :) It is one of my favorite childhood memories.

Due to this obsession, I decided to immerse myself into the language as well as the culture. Once in the US and as I entered 8th grade, I was excited to find out that French was offered as a course. I continued to study it all the way through college. Finally, while in college, I got the opportunity to go to France for a study abroad program to study the language as well as the culture. It was the best 3 months of my life.

During my stay, my French mother baked a Cherry Clafouti for dinner one day. It was so delicious! I still think about it. I have attempted it several times, but it has never come out as good as hers. It must be because she is French! So jealous! :)

While grocery shopping last week, I came across a display of cherries. They were so beautiful and they were even locally grown. How great is that?!?! Of course the fairly large container ended up in my shopping cart. The silly part about this whole thing is that I cannot really eat a lot of cherries and Joel is allergic to them. HA! “They would be great as a cherry Clafouti”, I thought. So they became Cherry Clafouti… a Cherry-Almond Clafouti, that is.

I found the recipe on Epicurious. It is very simple. It simply requires whole milk, almonds, sugar, cherries, eggs, almond extract, salt, and flour. The interesting part about the recipe is that it requires you to make almond milk from scratch. I decided to use store-bought almond milk, to save time. Also, I did not want to use whole milk due to my lactose intolerance. The worst part about the entire process was pitting the cherries. Now I know why pitted cherries or a cherry pitter are ideal. :)

The Clafouti turned out great! It is not quite as custardy as I would have expected it to be. This, I am sure, is due to the fact that I used almond milk instead of whole milk. I also think that I used more cherries than what the recipe required. But since I spent all that time pitting them, how could I not?!?

“Bon appétit!”, as my French mother would say.

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As I wandered around the downtown public market last Saturday, I stumbled upon the most beautiful bunch of basil. “Ooo… I can make pesto!”, I told my friend Kathy who joined me for the market outing. Pestos are some of my favorite dishes to make.

They are super simple, and the result is just delicious. Also, each batch usually makes a fair amount, so you can use it for multiple dishes. It also freezes really well.

My all time favorite pesto is an arugula pesto. My friend Bruce brought me an amazing cookbook from a restaurant that I hope to visit one day. It’s my dream. The restaurant is called Hell’s Backbone Grill and is located in Utah. The restaurant grows all of their vegetables onsite and seeks all of their meats and dairy from local farmers. How amazing is that!! And to add to that, the restaurant is owned by two women. Even more amazing!! :) The cookbook is called With a Measure of Grace: The Story and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant. I never thought about making pesto with arugula, but it was just delicious! The pesto includes arugula, spinach, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and salt and pepper. That’s it. It is definitely a favorite.

Toasting the pumpkin seeds.

Another favorite is the pistachio pesto, which is used in the Matchstick Pasta recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I have written about the recipe not too long ago (Matchstick Pasta post). That particular pesto does not require any greens, but it is just as delicious.

Throughout the years, I have experimented with different nuts and greens. The different nuts are what make the pesto more interesting, perhaps more so than the greens. You can use any nut, really. I have tried walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, and pecans. The possibilities are endless! Also, due to my lactose intolerance, I no longer include cheese in my pestos. I really do not miss it at all. I think that they are just as good without it.

Back to the beautiful bunch of basil… For this particular pesto, I decided to use basil, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and of course olive oil and salt and pepper. I believe that a key enhancement to any pesto is to toast the nuts that you are using. It really brings out the flavors. I also do not like my pesto very oily, so I usually do not use the typical amount of oil. I use just enough to hold it all together. The pesto made a great sauce for a pasta that was topped with grilled chicken and goat cheese. We savored every bite!

I was lucky to find more basil and a bunch of arugula at the market this week. I foresee more pesto in the near future!

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