Saturday, May 02, 2009

tarts and other dirty-sounding foods

I know I cook too much sometimes. But every once in a while, a menu will beckon and I will go excessively overboard, even by my standards. Last night was one of those nights, and in the aftermath I'm just lucky that the kitchen gods have chosen not to punish me for my hubris again. Making three completely new dishes for company? Blasphemy! Instead, they rewarded me with a meal that was remarkably delicious and (gasp) actually fairly stress-free in it's construction.
The seed for this excessive evening was this roasted tomato tart with creme fraiche and gruyere, which made the overdoer part of me squeal; not only was it to be my first ever tart (I had to buy a pan just for this), but I'd get to make my own creme fraiche. Woot! Happily, making creme fraiche is easy, if somewhat alarming. You simply pour a pint of heavy cream into a glass jar, add two tablespoons of good plain yogurt, shake, and stick the whole shebang in your oven for twelve+ hours. I knew that if Rose-Anne told me it would work than it would, but the idea of having unsealed dairy in my warm oven for a day made me slightly antsy. What if my tart killed us all? Happily, it did not.
Anyway, this tart has a lot of time-consuming steps--roasting the tomatoes for more than an hour, baking the tart crust for another half an hour, baking the assembled tart for yet another half hour--so I plotted my strategy carefully. The night before (while entertaining another guest! I have hostess skillz) I seeded, roasted, and skinned my tomatoes. The next morning, I woke up and immediately put together the tart crust and baked it. (And then, yes, I made soup. at 9:30 AM.) When dinner finally approached, all I had to do was assemble. And you know what? It tasted great. I'm not gonna be humble this time, because I was impressed myself. Tart success!
I paired the tart with a salad, parmesan garlic bread spread with raw cow's milk butter (milked by hand! packaged in glass! grass-fed! delicious!), and a chilled avocado-grapefruit soup that was the only thing all night that I felt iffy about. I like the pairing of avocado and grapefruit in a chilled soup, but the spicing (cinnamon and allspice) seemed a little off to me. Hmm.
Anyway, after dinner, I decided to go whole hog and make... Dessert! (Yet another recipe I'd never laid eyes on until last week!) What I made was a blackberry clafouti. Erica told me that "clafouti" sounds like a dirty word, but for some reason (perhaps the excessive creaminess? they're essentially a light fruited custard) I've been mildly obsessed with making one for a month or two now. Then at work on Thursday I mysteriously obtained a clafouti recipe that called for creme fraiche as a main ingredient, and I knew it was meant to be. I had to use blackberries instead of cherries (which seems to be the more traditional version) but what a gorgeous dessert! The fruit floats to the top of the custard and you end up looking like a badass even though it's pretty much the easiest thing to make ever. After my guests left I will admit that I polished off the remaining 3/8ths of the clafouti in a fit of late-night cravings. I think I need a break from the heavy cream for a few days, but that was an excellent way to spend May Day.

Blackberry Clafouti

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, May 2009

2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup creme fraiche
3/4 cup whole or soy milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for the dish and berries
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
12 oz blackberries
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Pre-heat the oven to 375.
Wash the berries and put them in a lidded container along with some granulated sugar. Shake to coat, and leave in the fridge while you prep everything else.
Butter a 9-inch pie dish, and then lightly coat it with sugar. Tap out the excess. Whisk the eggs, yolk, and flour together in a medium bowl, then add the creme fraiche, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk it all together.
Arrange the blackberries in the bottom of the dish so that they cover the bottom in a single layer. Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until slightly browned around the edges and set in the center. Dust with confectioner's sugar.
It's excellent but messy served warm, and you can ladle an extra spoonful of creme fraiche over the top for a little extra fanciness. It's also good and much more solid (as I can attest from my late-night binge) after being refrigerated. Take a picture; it's pretty.


Madeleine said...

As a lucky consumer of last night's meal, I would like to reinforce to all the reader's of this blog that it was indeed a wildly delicious dinner. Hurrah!

ammie said...

For some reason, you seem to always be here for my most innovative and lucky dinners. Score for you! But it was pretty good, wasn't it?

Madeleine said...

I think you are just an innovative and talented cook, and I am a lucky, lucky bystander. Annny time you need someone to eat, just let me know. :-D

Anonymous said...

Wow...and *I* was impressed with myself just for making vegan blueberry muffins from scratch (blog and pics to come, because I was proud)! Your dinner (and dessert!) sounds delicious. ;)