Chelan cherries from the farmer's market yesterday. Not the best, says the cherry man, 'cause we're not quite there yet, but a good early cherry. I was feeling French-ish, so I thought I'd make a cherry clafoutis for Aimee and Pat, who were coming for dinner.
I used Fran Warde's recipe for plum calfoutis from one of my very favorite cookbooks, Eat Drink Live: 150 Recipes for Morning, Noon, and Night. This book, along with my other favorite of hers (also photographed by my photography idol Debi Treloar) Food for Friends: Simply Delicious Menus for Easy Entertaining, gets pulled out frequently when peeps are coming 'round for dinner. I paw through them just for inspiration. I really can't recommend them highly enough. I'm pretty sure I've talked about them before. If you are feeling dreamy about your weekends, or want to make a plan to get them going, these books are so lovely and encouraging.
My thing this summer, though, is to sort of do the same thing over and over again, no matter who's coming. Well, maybe with a little variation, usually in the dessert. And that variation can be dictated by whatever it is I find at the farmer's market on Saturday morning. My basic menu is: garlic ciabatta bread (from the farmer's market), mushroom sauce (I make this on Friday afternoon), cheese ravioli (from Pastaworks), simple salad (with greens from the farmer's market), and make-ahead dessert (with fruit from the farmer's market). That's it. Nothing that has to be prepared at the last minute except for the ravioli. I have yet to encounter anyone who doesn't love ravioli. For many years, my defining characteristic in my family was that I was "the one who loves ravioli." (And "the one who said 'Ow!' when hit with a marshmallow that her sister threw at her," but whatever! I don't remember the event, but the story has been told about me so many times now that it is accepted as fact, so . . . fiiiiiiine. That's fine. Now you know.)
A clafoutis is like an eggy, custardy, pancake-y batter, poured over some fruit and baked into a moist layer. I like all things eggy, custardy, and pancake-y, and I love cherries, though you can do this with plums or blueberries or even strawberries, or probably any berry or stone fruit, I would think? It looks cool with cherries. Apparently there's some controversy about whether the cherries should be pitted, but I would absolutely pit mine. Especially if you have use of your neighbor's (on the other side, this time — how lucky am I that I have such epicurean neighbors, I know) cherry pitter. This thing is pretty cool. You can see the cherry at the top of the spout? You put it there, and then push down on this little plunger that pushes the pit out and into the bucket below. As the plunger comes back up, it lifts the cherry and then tosses it down the chute and into the waiting casserole dish. Dear Santa, I've been a very good girl this year and I would like my very own cherry pitter. Thank you, much love always, Alicia P.
There's not much to the batter — a half cup of flour, a half cup of sugar, four eggs, and two cups of milk. All whisked together and poured over the cherries. I might add a little salt to this next time, and maybe a dash of vanilla. It's a bland pud, but I like that sort of thing. Pop it in the oven for forty minutes at 375 degrees F. Don't accidentally turn the oven up to 475 and then go sit on the front porch and have a beer, only to come careening into the house when you smell roasting pancake and yank it all out. Why do I do things like this. I don't know. It was saved, but honestly. 475? Girl. Put down the beer and read the directions.
After it cools, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top. I bought a can of powdered sugar with a sprinkle-top from the Dutch import store, and it is the best, because you don't have to mess with the sugar bag, which is impossible to open without making a mess, or find the tiny strainer which you can never find because its jammed in the back of the utensil drawer, or try to sprinkle the sugar off of a spoon, so it always falls off in big clumps and looks stupid. The can is awesome. Oh, and the clafoutis was good, too!