Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Tues 11 Jul 2006

I've been waiting for some ENGLISH (not Spanish) cherries to appear for what seems like ages, so I was pretty excited to spot them at the market on the weekend for the knockdown price of £1 for 1lb (this also amused me for a good 30 seconds or so). I'm constantly amazed by how cheap the Leeds City markets are compared to the supermarket. After all - I thought the reason we all shopped at supermarkets was because they offered such amazing bargains ... maybe that's what they just want us to think ...

Anyway, cherries in hand - the only thing to do was to make the cherry clafoutis, from Gordon Ramsay's Just Desserts.

While I could quite easily justify clafoutis and nothing else for dinner I couldn't really just serve up pudding and nothing else so I found a recipe for a fantastic roast vegetable pasta dish from Cucina Italiana, which came out as an attachment to an Australian Gourmet Traveller quite a while back. Back to the market before I could get in the kitchen ...

For pasta sauce, take one aubergine, cut into about 1cm square cubes, place in a colander and salt. Leave for half an hour.

Heat roasting dish with plenty of olive oil in a 200C oven. Rinse the aubergine well and pat dry. When the roasting dish is hot, add the aubergine, roughly chopped fresh tomatoes, a roughly chopped red onion and a good few sprigs of fresh thyme. The original recipe calls for garlic but when I discovered I had none I subsituted the thyme. Return to oven for a good 45 minutes or so - give it a bit of a stir every now and then, and add a bit more olive oil if you need.

Cook your pasta, and before draining reserve about half a cup of cooking water. Mix some of the cooking water into the roast vegies, before mixing them through the pasta. Add a generous handful of roughly chopped parsley. Serve with plenty of grated parmesan and a good red. We drank a Porcupine Ridge 2004 Merlot from South Africa, which was absolutely delicious.

This dish has plenty to recommend it - lots of different colours and different vegetables mean it HAS to be healthy. In addition, although it might look like it takes a while, you don't have to baby sit it during the cooking (I managed to fit in all sorts of other activities while preparing it) which makes it perfect for a mid week meal.

And ... I think it even looks pretty good too!

Moving along to the clafoutis - this is another fantastic weeknight dish, as it's preferable to prepare the batter the night before.

The batter is made of 50g of ground almonds, 15g plain flour, 100g caster sugar, 2 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks, 250mL cream and a pinch of salt. Whiz up the dry ingredients and then add the wet and make sure it's well combined. This makes about a pint of liquid. Leave in the fridge overnight. Make sure you keep the spare egg whites - they freeze well for future meringues!

When ready to make, preheat the oven to 190C, butter a pie dish and add a good layer of pitted cherries (cherries pit easily - cut in half around the stone and the cherry will come apart and you can remove the stone from the half it's left in). Get the batter mix and give it a stir (it will separate a little overnight) and pour over. Bake in oven for 25 minutes, or until golden and top is set.

Serve dusted with icing sugar (not essential) and plenty of cream (vital). Mmmmm ...

After polishing off all this lovely food there was nothing else to do but go to bed and read cookbooks ... I was interested to see the slant other writers give to clafoutis - Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) gives quite a few variations and Patricia Wells includes a version in At Home In Provence. I found it quite interesting that both Child and Wells use granulated rather than caster sugar (though I wonder if that is a US/UK thing), and that neither leaves the batter overnight nor uses almonds. Loads of variations spring to mind without help - use different fruit, macerate fruit in an appropriate liqueur, add some vanilla essence and so on. Maybe one day I'll even get around to trying a different recipe!
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Blogger Unknown said...

Haven't tried this with dessert cherries but a hairpin (bent end) is a faster way to pit morrello cherries (less chance of cutting your fingers too).

4:15 pm  
Blogger Kristen "Kiki" Nweeia said...

Yummy! I'm amazed at the price of cherries... even after I calculate it in US Dollars! Great pic of the pasta bowl.

5:55 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Never thought of using a pin - I've seen various tools to do the job, but was amazed by how easy the knife was (it was Andy's idea since he got the job last time we made this).

Last year when I bought cherries at the supermarket they were about £8 a kilo! Outrageous!

8:14 pm  
Blogger Andrew said...

I never get to actually make anything with cherries - I always manage to eat them all straight out of the bag.

11:02 pm  

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