RECIPE: DARK CHERRY CLAFOUTIS (Fluffy french dessert)

Clafoutis (pronounced kla fou TEE) is a rustic dessert, traditionally made with black cherries, eggs, milk, sugar, and flour. Clafoutis is French, but don't be intimidated. It's simple and rustic, but can be very elegant. I've made it for a dinner party and also when camping! The batter puffs up around the fruit and the edges get browned and a little crusty; it's delicious. It rises and puffs up as it bakes; much like a Dutch Baby, if you are familiar with that. The taste is a bit like a custard but it isn't as creamy. Clafoutis, served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of heavy cream is one of my very favorite desserts... and once you taste it, you'll add it into your regular dessert rotation. Serve it in the skillet for an impressive presentation. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, you can also bake this dessert in a buttered baking dish but youneed to watch it carefully if you do because the timing may be different.

You can also make Clafoutis with different fruit. I like it with pears or apples, too.

Dark Cherry Clafoutis recipe

DARK CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

6 eggs

6 tablespoons sugar

1 ¼ cup milk

Pinch salt

¾ cups of all-purpose flour

3 cups pitted cherries (don't get the canned cherries in heavy syrup. Use the 24.7 ozbottle of Dark Morello Cherries in light syrup, if you can find them. Drain them well. Or you can use fresh*)

Confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a large cast iron skillet or baking dish.

Combine vanilla, eggs, sugar, milk, and salt in a food processor or blender. Blend for a few seconds until combined and then add the flour and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. (if you don't have a blender, you can just whisk until well combined, the sugar is dissolved, and batter is smooth. Whip it really well.)

Pour the batter into the prepared skillet. Cover the top evenly with the well-drained cherries. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Don't be tempted to open the oven during baking or the Clafoutis may fall. Serve warm. Dust the top with powdered sugar or serve with a drizzle of heavy cream.

NOTE: When using fresh fruit, put the butter in the skillet and let it melt. Once it has, add about a pound of  fresh, pitted Bing cherries to the butter and let them cook to soften for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and stir until the juice thickens into a syrup. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake as directed above.

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HOW-TO: CLEANING AND RE-SEASONING CAST IRON COOKWARE

HOW TO CLEAN AND PRESERVE YOUR CAST IRON

I am so fortunate to be in possession of some of my mother’s cast iron skillets, probably the most precious thing I own besides the tiny diamond engagement ring my father gave her when they married. I remember as a kid, on Sundays after church, standing on the wobbly kitchen stool beside the stove, hovering over that big cast iron Dutch oven, just waiting for my mom to signal for me to turn the fried chicken. The menu rarely changed: fried chicken, rice, gravy, biscuits, and English peas or string beans.

How to clean and reseason cast iron

My collection has grown over the years… and because I have so much, I don’t use all of it like I should. That is the key to keeping your cast iron in perfect condition, my mom taught me.

Every winter, I find an afternoon to go through my collection of cast iron. I wash, dry, and oil it well, re-seasoning the pieces that need it. I’ve been asked many times how I do it---here’s the way I was taught (and a few tips from Lodge and Southern Living, too). Hope this helps you keep your treasured heirloom cast iron pieces in perfect condition to hand down to your own kids someday.

CLEANING CAST IRON

  1. Always hand wash your cast iron with a very mild soap with a sponge or cloth. Never use harsh soap, a metal scrubber or rough scouring pad on cast iron unless you intend to re-season it.

  2. If there is baked on food residue, place the warm pan under running water and use a plastic spatula to gently push the residue from the surface.

  3. Dry immediately.

  4. Apply a very light coat of vegetable oil (I use Crisco shortening). Wipe it onto the pan, making sure to get into the corners or curves of the pan.

  5. Wipe the excess away using a lint-free cloth or towel. Paper towels leave a residue. You want a light coating of oil, not a sticky surface. The oil helps protect the pan from moisture.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FIND RUST OR DISCOLORATION

  1. Use a scouring pad to scour the rust from the pan.

  2. Follow steps 1-3 above.

  3. If the situation doesn’t improve, re-season the pan to restore it to its original condition.

How to properly clean a cast iron skillet

RE-SEASONING CAST IRON

If food begins to stick to the surface of your cast iron or if you see a discoloration as shown on the image above on the cooking surface, you will need to re-season the piece. You may have to do this more than once to achieve a glossy, smooth black surface.

How to clean cast iron cookware
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.

  2. Clean the surface of the pan or piece with hot water and a stiff wire brush.

  3. Rinse and dry completely using a lint-free cloth.

  4. Add a thin coat of melted Crisco shortening (use a solid shortening only) to all of the inside and outside surfaces of the piece. Too much shortening will result in a sticky surface.

  5. Place a sheet pan or piece of aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven.

  6. Invert the pan and put it directly onto the top rack.

  7. Bake for one hour and then turn the pan over. Turn the oven off and allow the oven and pan to cool completely before you remove it.

  8. Repeat as necessary.

How to reseason a cast iron skillet
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RECIPE: MAKE AN EVERYTHING IN THE FRIDGE FRITTATA

When I was growing up, my mom would often make breakfast for Sunday supper. It is something I like to do even now. Another thing I like to do is to find a way to clean out some of the odds and ends in the fridge so they don't go to waste. This recipe accomplishes both of those things... plus it is super simple! Why not look around your fridge, see what you have, and make a frittata for supper tonight? It is also a perfect dish for brunch or lunch- just add a salad.

The basics for this dish are eggs, potatoes, and vegetables... any kind. I always throw leftover potatoes into the frittata but if you don't have leftovers, dice the potatoes, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and then roast them a bit to soften them before you add them to the eggs. You can toss in asparagus, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, or any other vegetable you happen to have around.

How to Make a Frittata with Ingredients in Your Fridge

EVERYTHING IN THE FRIDGE FRITTATA

INGREDIENTS

6-7 eggs (the number of eggs depends on the size of your skillet. I have a large 10" cast iron skillet so it requires more eggs)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup onion, diced small

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced

1 medium potato, diced (use a pre-cooked potato or cook it before adding)

1 tomato diced or cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup cheese + more for the top--use any kind of cheese, grated or crumbled (I often use several different kinds to use up the little bits left in the fridge)

Bacon, pancetta, or sausage, cooked

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped fine

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to broil.

Beat the eggs until frothy. Set aside. Heat up the oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron or oven-proof skillet. Add the onion, veggies, and sauté until golden brown. Add the potatoes, if you've roasted them or had leftovers. Add the eggs. Swirl the eggs around the pan to make sure they evenly cover the other ingredients.

As the edges start to cook, loosen them with a spatula or butter knife to disperse the liquid in the center. After the eggs start to firm, put the pan into the oven and broil 3 minutes or so until the eggs are almost completely set. Remove the frittata and add a bit of cheese on the top, if you like... and who doesn't... return to the oven until it is golden brown, about 1 minute or less.

Remove and slice into wedges. Garnish with bacon crumbles, scallion, or anything else you've used in your frittata.

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