Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blueberry Buttermilk Clafoutis

My friend, A, was kind enough to bring me a big container of blueberries that she picked herself last weekend. The blueberries were gorgeous - large and sweet, and it took all the self control I could muster to not inhale all the blueberries all at once. But she asked that I let her know what I made with the blueberries. Well, A, this one's for you!
I had never heard of - let alone made- a clafoutis before. But I stumbled upon a recipe using raspberries in an old Food & Wine and was intrigued. A traditional French dessert, a clafoutis is usually made with cherries. It's like a custard-y pancake that can be served not only as a dessert, but for breakfast as well since it's not overly sweet and is somewhat healthy. Additionally, it uses just one bowl and one pan and takes just minutes to mix up.
So in went my 1 cup of handpicked blueberries mixed with a few eggs, a bit of sugar and flour, and the last of a container of buttermilk I had on hand- and 40 minutes later, alongside our lattes, we had a classy French breakfast. I think A would be proud.

Blueberry Buttermilk Clafoutis

1 cup blueberries
3 eggs
1/3 cup flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup regular or buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
butter for greasing the pan

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9 inch pie pan or cake pan that has sides at least 2 inches high. Scatter the blueberries evenly on the bottom of the pan. Whisk together the eggs, flour, then add sugar, baking powder, vanilla, lemon zest and melted butter. Add the milk slowly and and whisk until the batter is smooth. It should just take a minute or two. Pour the batter slowly over the blueberries and bake for about 40 minutes until lightly browned. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar and serve with yogurt if desired.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

IMG_2417.jpgHello summer! You have certainly arrived, with force, with gusto. And to welcome you, I have abandoned all forms of cooking with heat (that is, except for our grill outside, but that's NAK's territory). I suppose that leaves my cooking repertoire to just fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs clipped from my patio. Works for me. I served this salad last weekend, before the peach pie, and have made it no less than three times this past week. It’s just that good and that simple. The combination of crunchy watermelon and soft tomatoes is unexpected and refreshing and the green onions and basil add a tang that keeps the salad light and fresh. You could tweak this recipe into a dozen other variations, which could include adding feta or goat cheese, mixing in chopped watercress, cucumbers, multi-colored tomatoes, mint….you get the idea.
And while it may take a little time to slice the watermelon and chop the tomatoes, the dressing couldn’t be easier- just balsamic vinegar and olive oil drizzled on top. The portions below make an enormous quantity that will serve at least 10 people but you can easily make this for two and it will keep just fine overnight in the fridge. I still have a half a watermelon in the fridge, so who knows, maybe a fourth salad will be in order for later on this week. Yes, you could say that I’ve been a bit lazy on the cooking front lately, but you can’t blame a girl for wanting to beat the heat.

Watermelon and Tomato Salad
serves 10-12 and can easily be cut in half

4 cups halved cherry tomatoes (2 pints)
4 cups cubed watermelon (about a half of medium sized watermelon)
1 cup sliced green onions
20 basil leaves, minced
2 tbs olive oil
2-3 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, water, green onions with half the basil. Mix with oil and vinegar and allow to sit so the flavors blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with the rest of the basil and feta, if using.