Oh, San Francisco, why such the tease? You blessed us with weeks of warm and sunny days; lulled us all into complacency, leaving little doubt that the sun would shine as brightly the next day, and then out of the blue, no more. Gone are those blissful spring days spent lounging in the park, sipping on a beer, wearing naught but the lightest sundress and an oversized chapeau. The sun beating on my bare back, I almost believed that this year would be different, that the summer months would stretch forth with the promise of days spent frolicking along the beach, or sipping cocktails by the grill, but no! Every year, like clockwork, you break my heart; cool winds come snapping through the trees, and I return to my tights and sweaters, balled up in a drawer and forgotten, only to be sprung forth as spring ends.
Trite, but all too true, “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” is oft-repeated for a reason. And while the warm “summer” days may be gone til next year, I am consoled and cajoled into looking forward to the season by the first glimpses of summer produce at the farmers market*. Perhaps the warmth knows it’s needed farther East in the farmlands. And quite frankly if it’ll hasten the ripening of juicy summer berries, vibrant-hued watermelons, and my favorite of favorites – tomatoes fit to burst, I’m all for it. I’ll take a basket full of raspberries over skin burnt that hue any day.
*This week I spotted (and devoured) nectarines, tomatoes, cherries, and the sweetest strawberries of the year, really, truly!
Clafoutis are a great low-stress dinner party dessert, as they’re quick to put together, yet still seem impressive (at least to those not clued in to their ease of assembly). As a bonus they can be prepared almost entirely ahead of time – simply pop into the oven 45 minutes before you wish to eat it. I particularly like this spring combo of raspberry and rhubarb. So much so that I’ve made this twice in one week! But you can certainly fiddle around with the flavors, as long as you keep the fruit chunks around the size of a small berry. I imagine a mixed berry version or one with strawberries and rhubarb would be particularly nice.
Loosely adapted from Martha Stewart Living: November 2011
½ tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for dish
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (3 ⅞ ounces) granulated sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 ⅞ ounces) all-purpose flour
heaping ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
1 ½ tablespoons Grand Marnier, or the finely grated zest of 1 orange
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
¾ cup rhubarb, sliced into ½ inch pieces
¾ cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Brush melted butter all over the bottom and sides of a 1-quart shallow baking dish (not metal); sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar all over.
Whisk together remaining sugar, flour, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together egg, cream, milk, Grand Marnier, and zest in a medium mixing bowl. In two additions, whisk the cream mixture into the sugar mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Scatter the sliced rhubarb and raspberries evenly on top. Bake on top of a baking sheet (to ensure any batter doesn’t leak onto your oven floor) for 30-34 minutes, until puffed, barely set in the center, and light brown around the edges. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack (it will sink, so don’t fret!).
Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm.
While perhaps at its best served fresh from the oven, while still warm, clafoutis set up wonderfully when chilled. The texture becomes slightly more dense and custardy, and it all seems a bit richer somehow. Either way, if I feel like gussying things up a bit I’m inclined to serve it with lightly sweetened whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or vanilla yogurt if I’m trying to pretend that it’s a suitable morning meal.