Strawberry-Rhubarb Clafoutis catches some rays at breakfast
Sometimes I get a little over-zealous at the farmers’ market, especially in the late-Spring. I stock up on gorgeous gem-colored cherries, tangy-sweet blueberries, pints of radiant red strawberries, baby beets and rainbow chard, forgetting I made dinner plans or agreed to go to a wine tasting later in the week. As I’m unloading my bags and stuffing my crisper until it’s spilling out the seams like Jack Sprat, I realize I’ve bought way more than I’ll have time to eat without a little strategizing. (And sadly there are weeks I don’t realize this until I the strawberries begin looking like a fifth grade science experiment.)
Walking to the old Farmers’ Market on Fairfax and Third last week, Neal and I spied some rhubarb growing in a neighbor’s yard. The plant had already gone to flower, so it wasn’t going to be good eating, even if it wasn’t an integral part of their landscaping. But it got me thinking of the pint of strawberries in my fridge and one of my favorite, simple French desserts: clafoutis.
I love clafoutis, which is essentially fruit and cake batter, but it tastes a cross between custard and a pancake-y Dutch baby. In Limousin, where the dessert originated, it’s usually made with early-Season cherries, pits and all. The little stones inside aren’t edible, but as they cook they add depth of flavor to the clafoutis. When I make the dessert with cherries, I like to pit them, but rather than cutting the cherries up, I prefer to split them by hand to remove the pit but keep them mostly in tact. It adds to the rustic appeal of the dish.
Moreover, I love clafoutis because it’s so hard to mess up. Even the worst clafoutis tastes pretty good, and it takes hardly any time to make. So I picked up some crimson stalks of rhubarb at the market to make a strawberry-rhubarb clafoutis. I found a recipe from the folks at King Arthur flour that I used as a foundation and set to hulling and halving strawberries and dicing rhubarb. And while the final version made for some good after-dinner treats (and late-afternoon, passing-through-the-kitchen will-power busters), this not-to-sweet version, which I spiked with cardamom and black pepper, was a delight first thing in the morning with my cup of coffee.
Spiced Strawberry Rhubarb Clafoutis
adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 lb ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
1 cup rhubarb (about 2 stalks), diced
4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan or casserole dish.
In a sauté pan, melt the mutter. Add the rhubarb and place the strawberries on top, cooking for about five minutes and giving an occasional shake to make sure it’s not sticking. (The goal is the reduce the fruits’ juices to create a bit of a syrup without turning the strawberries to mush.) Sprinkle the 1/3-cup of sugar over the berries, stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. Pour the fruit into you baking dish and let cook while you make the batter.
In a medium-sized bow, whisk the sugar, salt and eggs together until it is light. Slowly add the flour, whisking until combined. Stir in cream, vanilla, cardamom and pepper. Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the cake is puffy and browned on top. Dust with powdered sugar or serve with whip cream or ice cream.