Clafoutis, any way you want them


It used to be that clafoutis were always baked French pancakes studded with cherries.

Some clafoutis were smooth and flanlike; others puffed and turned golden brown on top. Some versions called for pitted cherries for greater ease of eating. Others insisted on whole cherries so the pits could add almondy nuance. And when cherries weren’t in season, different fruits stepped in: apricots, plums, berries, even pears.

But sweetness was a necessity, part of the deal. Until one day it wasn’t.

Clafoutis have moved on to the savory side. Now, in addition to classic recipes served for dessert or brunch, you’ll see them studded with meat, vegetables and cheese for lunch and dinner. For anyone who loves puffy, eggy savories like the soft interior of a quiche, a cheesy frittata or a custardy Yorkshire pudding, this is a very good trend indeed.

Making the switch from sweet to savory is simple to do, as long as you don’t mess with the structure of the pancake. The ratio of eggs to milk to flour needs to remain largely in place.

But beyond that, anything goes. Adding herbs, spices and grated cheese will give you a nicely piquant base in which to stir more substantial fillings: meat, vegetables, bits of leftover curry stashed in the fridge. Just make sure that whatever meats and vegetables you use are cooked through before you fold them in. They won’t cook any more while the pancake is in the oven; they just heat through while the egg batter around them sets and inflates.

This vegetable-rich version is an excellent vehicle for using up the last of the summer corn, to which I add Swiss chard and leeks for color and heft, along with garlic, herbs, cheese and both red and black pepper for bite.

It bakes up browned and almost souffléd on top, with a dense, rich middle. But it will deflate quickly. So for maximum drama, have your guests seated at the table when you pull it out of the oven. This said, it’s perfectly delicious after it flattens out. It may not be as striking, but with its salty depth of flavor, it’s just as irresistible.

Savory Clafoutis

Time: 1 1/4 hours

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup crème fraîche

4 large eggs

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more as needed

1 cup coarsely grated Gruyère or cheddar (about 4 ounces)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large or 3 small leeks (white and light green parts), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

2 cups corn kernels (from 2 to 3 ears, or frozen and thawed)

1 large garlic clove, grated on a microplane or minced

1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped (8 cups)

¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Fresh lemon juice, for serving

Red pepper flakes, for serving

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, whisk together milk, crème fraîche, eggs, flour, parsley, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Whisk in 3/4 cup Gruyère.

2. Heat olive oil in a 9-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until they are soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in corn, garlic and a pinch of salt; cook until garlic is fragrant and corn is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chard leaves a handful at a time, and cook until they are wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Season the mixture with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

3. Pour crème fraîche mixture over the corn and chard mixture, and then sprinkle the remaining Gruyère and the Parmigiano on top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until custard is lightly set, about 40 minutes. Serve topped with a sprinkling of lemon juice and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Berry Clafoutis

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

450 grams (3 cups) mixed blueberries and blackberries (or use just one type), rinsed and drained on paper towels

2 tablespoons kirsch, eau de vie de myrtille, or crème de cassis (optional)

105 grams (7 tablespoons) sugar, preferably organic

40 grams (approximately 1/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour

35 grams (approximately 1/3 cup) almond flour

3 extra large eggs (165 grams)

1 vanilla bean, scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

165 grams (2/3 cup, approximately) low-fat yogurt or kefir

Preparation

1. Toss berries in a medium bowl with the kirsch, eau de vie or crème de cassis, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together all-purpose flour and almond flour.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9- or 10-inch ceramic tart pan or clafoutis dish.

3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with remaining sugar, seeds from the vanilla bean or vanilla, and salt. Place a strainer over the bowl and drain berries, allowing all of the liquid from the berries to run into the egg and sugar mixture. Whisk to combine. Arrange drained berries in the buttered baking dish.

4. Beat the sifted flours into the egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Add yogurt or kefir and combine well. Pour over fruit, scraping out all of the batter with a rubber spatula.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and the clafoutis is firm and puffed. Press gently on the top in the middle to see if it’s firm. If it isn’t, return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Reader Comments


Next Up in Lifestyles

8 Tips for Deciphering Diet Claims
Though food is supposed to be one of life's simple pleasures, few things cause more angst and confusion.
How to Grow Your Own Herbs for Cooking
The next time a recipe calls for fresh basil, skip the poor substitute of dried basil, forgo the last-minute dash to the supermarket for some...
Break Out of Your Food Rut!
What's for dinner? What are you eating for breakfast or lunch tomorrow? If you aren't feeling excited about your meals, or if your kids are...
How a 'Bad Food' Attitude Can Backfire
Do you struggle with cravings and wish you had the will power to cut out certain foods completely? When we work toward a healthy diet, so many of us...
Plan your week in entertainment
Plan your week in entertainment
Plan your week in entertainment with these highlights and pop-culture milestones: MONDAY, 9/26Go: Charlie Puth kicks off his We Don't Talk...
More Stories

You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com.

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of free premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.