Cherry Clafouti

Cherry ClafoutiI really love cherry season, and for some reason, cherries are the fruit I get most excited about baking with. I know this is strange–I think it has something to do with memories of Hostess Cherry Pies. Anyway, turns out that nothing from my kitchen has ever tasted like a Hostess Cherry Pie (I’m not really sure how they accomplish it, to be honest), but my adult tastes don’t enjoy them much anymore, anyway. So, if you’re interested in doing something with the cherries you’ve just picked up from a fruit stand, here’s a great option. A clafouti (which, I believe is pronounced “cla–foo-tee”) can be a dessert or if you live at my house, a breakfast food. Ina Garten’s recipes, which I’ve used here, calls for pears, but I’ve adapted it back to the more traditional cherries. Essentially, this is a custard (crepe-like) batter baked with fruit. It’s very simple to make and it looks great straight out of the oven, but stays quite hot, so if you’re serving it to kids, best to wait for 15 minutes or so (the cherries capture a lot of heat). This recipe is adapted from Garten’s Barefoot in Paris.

Cherry Clafouti

1 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c. plus 1 T. granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
6 T. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. heavy cream (you can use milk here, it will just lessen the creaminess, which works for me!)
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. almond extract
1 c. sweet cherries
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 10 x 3 x 1 1/2-inch round baking (pie) dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 T. of the granulated sugar.

Beat the eggs and the 1/3 c. of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and almond extract. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pit the cherries either by slicing them in half or with a cherry pitter. Sprinkle the cherries in the baking dish, and pour the batter over the cherries. Bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.

Cherry Clafouti 2(My husband liked this picture better, so I included them both!)

Creamy Carbonara

Creamy CarbonaraI love this recipe, and I always think that I have already posted this recipe, but no! This is one of my favorite go-to recipes when I haven’t gotten to the grocery store or at the end of the month when funds are low. It’s such a delicious recipe–the eggs become creamy, and the sauce is mildly garlicky, but not enough to turn off my kids. My kids fight over the bacon, so I usually double the amount that the recipe calls for. This really is a great, quick dinner. It comes from the The Best of  America’s Test Kitchen 2007 Annual.

Creamy Carbonara

serves 4-6

1 lb. dry spaghetti
3 fresh large eggs
8 oz. thick-cut bacon, cubed (I usually double the amount)
1 c. freshly grated Pecorino
2 T. heavy cream
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. pepper
1/2 c. dry white wine
Sea salt

1. Bring about 4 quarts of generously salted water to a boil. Whisk the eggs, Pecorino Romano, and cream together in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 2 T. of the bacon fat. Add the garlic and pepper to the skillet and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk the garlic mixture in to the egg mixture.

3. Add the wine to the skillet and simmer over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove browned bits, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk the wine mixture into the egg mixture.

4. Meanwhile, add the salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Immediately pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss to combine with 1/2 c. of the reserved cooking water. Add the bacon and thin the sauce with the remaining cooking water as necessary. Serve immediately.

Note: Curdled eggs will ruin this dish. To prevent this from happening, be sure to whisk constantly when adding the hot ingredients to the egg mixture.