Thursday, June 24, 2010

You Don't Spell It, You Eat It: Fig and Raspberry Clafouti

It's brutally hot in DC today--we hit 100°F (37.7°C, for those of you who, you know, use metric). I had two hearty pasta dishes flagged as blog fodder, but couldn't bear to even think about boiling a big pot of ... no, don't make me say it. Nothing heavy, please. Nothing steamy. Something simple...

So, you'll think I'm crazy when I say that today's recipe from The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine involves....baking. Yes. I'm saying you should turn on your oven. Even though it's brutally hot out. You can scurry out of the kitchen when it's on, and place yourself in front of a fan or an air conditioner (or both); it'll be okay.
Fig and Raspberry Clafouti
Recommended Wine: Sauternes
Alternative Wine: Port

Clafouti is not a terribly well-known dessert. Its origins are in the south central part of France where a batter cake, typically made with black cherries, is a traditional and much loved delight. This version resonates with the lush, honeyed sweetness of late summer figs and slightly tart raspberries, a truly magical combination that wraps its flavors around the honey-like quality in aged sauternes. Port is a suitable alternative that works well with the fig flavors.

2 cups quartered figs
2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons port
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange figs cut side up in buttered 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking dish and sprinkle in raspberries. In a blender or food processor, finely grind the almonds with the flour. Add 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, milk, and port and blend well. Stop occasionally to wipe down sides as necessary. Pour the custard over the fruit, dott with butter, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the custard is set. Let cool for 20 minutes. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Serves 6
I love figs, and no doubt the suitable-for-August heat has me thinking of late summer fruit instead of more seasonally appropriate choices (see: aforementioned black cherries). Usually, when I have figs, I rip off a hunk of bread, smear on some chevre, and then tear open a fig and smoooooooosh it in on top of the cheese. I eat. I repeat. Figs never seem to last long enough to end up in a cooked dish. Well, you know what I mean, figs keep, but they don't last near me. They are not safe; guard them if you want to have any share in them.

A few Sundays back, Chefly Husband and I went to some friends' house for grilled lamb and shiraz; dessert was clafouti. So I say with confidence: this is a good hot day dessert. Yes, your kitchen will heat up. Unless...

Do you have a yard of your own? With plenty of beautiful sunlight? You can give a solar oven a try. I've a friend (who I haven't seen in far too long) who has had great success with her solar cooking. Use that sun for something other than skin damage and keep your kitchen cool.

Since it's summer, I'd stick with the sauternes and leave the port for a cooler day. I also think that a nice ice wine would be good with this, like, oh... Argyle's Minus Five riesling. It's the wine so tasty, it's finally got my sister interested in tasting wine!

If you've no figs available, add more raspberries, or blackberries, or plums (pitted), or cherries (pitted or not, up to you and your estimation of your guests' ability to navigate around the pits gracefully), or... you get the idea. Clafouti is a friend of fruit; use what you can lay your hands on.


  1. But how do you say clafouti?

    And technically, the Minus Five, isn't an ice wine. Something about the method of freezing. I think they call it cryo-cluster, instead? Anywho, regardless of terminology, it's heaven in a glass.

    Hmmm...perhaps we could go wine-ing when you're in town next month?

  2. I say it clah-FOO-tee. I may be completely wrong, though.

    And... "PERHAPS"????? What the heck with this "PERHAPS"????