Cooking the Books: Fresh Goat Cheese and Basil Clafoutis

Food Lovers Guide to Paris

Gianluca Tamorri/Food Lover’s Guide to Paris

From time to time, Bas Bleu’s editorial staff “samples” recipes from cookbooks and other culinary guides found in our catalog. Our efforts are amateur at best: If you’re looking for advanced epicurean know-how or glossy food photography, you’re about to be disappointed. We’re humble home cooks, you see, like (most of) you—pressed for time, with non-matching cookware and the tendency to scatter flour everywhere. But we know delicious when we taste it, and if you try your hand at these recipes we think you’ll agree!

If you’ve ever dreamed of eating your way across Paris, we’ve got your map right here. The New Food Lover’s Guide to Paris gives travelers a local’s knowledge of more than 450 restaurants, cafés, markets, and specialty food shops hidden throughout the City of Light. It’s a treasure trove of culinary information, made all the richer by the fact that author and veteran food critic Patricia Wells sprinkled fifty mouthwatering recipes throughout the guide. On our menu this week: this delectable clafoutis (pronounced “kla-foo-TEE”). A traditional clafoutis is a baked cherry tart, but Wells’s savory version is made with goat cheese and fresh summer basil instead. 

Clafoutis de Basilic et Chèvre Frais (or, Fresh Goat Cheese and Basil Clafoutis)

Equipment:
A food processor; 9-inch (23-cm) nonstick springform pan

Ingredients:
4 plump, moist garlic cloves, peeled, halved, green germ removed
10 ounces (300 g) fresh goat’s-milk cheese
5 large eggs, preferably organic and free-range, lightly beaten
1¾ cups (400 ml) light cream or half-and-half
½ cup (70 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (250 ml) fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

1. Center a rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. In the food processor, mince the garlic. Add the remaining ingredients and process to blend. Pour the mixture into the springform pan.

3. Place the pan in the oven and bake until firm and golden, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool. The clafoutis will deflate as it cools. Serve at room temperature, cut into thin wedges.

12 servings

Ingredients

Eggs, basil, cream, cheese, flour, garlic, and a pinch of salt are all that’s required to whip up this summer treat, a quick and easy recipe that will present to your impressed guests as very complicated and involved. How the French manage to do so much with so little never ceases to amaze me.

Minced Garlic

I minced the garlic with a knife to get the ball rolling, but if you’re using a food processor instead of a blender (more on that soon) you may not need to.

Blender 1

This recipe calls for a food processor, but in the absence of one I commandeered my mother’s blender, which is every bit as powerful today as it was when she received it as a wedding gift forty years ago. Wary of overflowing the pitcher, I added the ingredients a few at a time. If you use a food processor, go ahead and dump everything in there at once and let ’er rip. It’s just that simple. The result looks like a milkshake!

Batter

Before pouring your batter into the springform pan, make sure the bottom is fitted tightly in place to prevent leakage. I placed a cookie sheet beneath the pan in the oven just in case.

Baked Clafoutis

The baked clafoutis came out of the oven tinted a lovely pale shade of green, thanks to the fresh basil. (If you’d rather create a more neutrally colored dish, you could probably finely mince the basil with a knife and stir it in after you’ve combined the other ingredients.) Once the clafoutis cools to room temperature, run a dinner knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan. If you don’t, the surface will crack when you “spring” the latch.

Voila

Voilà! The consistency of the finished product was somewhere between a soufflé and a quiche, the piquant flavor of the goat cheese delicately tempered by the fresh basil and cream. All of my tasters gave it a thumbs-up, and we proceeded to put our heads together to determine what the clafoutis would pair best with. While the French might offer it during a dessert course, we agreed it would make a simple-yet-impressive brunch dish, along with bacon or ham biscuits and fresh fruit. It also would combine well with a simple salad for a light lunch. We refrigerated the remnants overnight and found the flavor and texture surprisingly good for breakfast the next morning, which is saying something considering what a leftovers snob I am. So without further ado: Bon appétit! 

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