September is a curious kind of month. It's the time of year that we wistfully bid farewell to the easy, carefree days of summer and say hello to the crisp apples, new school clothes and the more structured schedules autumn brings.
If you're not quite ready to let go of summer, The Culinary Institute of America has the perfect recipe for you. Delightfully French in name, our Plum Clafoutis is an incredibly simple way to use the last of summer's fruit.
French cooking and baking has a reputation for being fussy and over-complicated. But here at the CIA, where French cuisine is part of the fundamental curriculum, we cook simple and rustic French food every day. Ratatouille, baguettes (four ingredients!), and the humble cheese plate are just a few effortless French foods we couldn't live without.
This clafoutis is no exception, doing what French food does best: taking the season's best flavors, adding a few pantry ingredients, and voila. A clafoutis is simply fresh fruit baked in custardy batter, ready in 40 minutes, start to finish. The fruit gets soft and juicy, the custard is lightly sweet and eggy, and just a touch of flour makes it cakey enough to enjoy with a cup of tea. Leftover, it is the perfect dessert-for-breakfast.
Stone fruits, like peaches, apricots, and plums, are classic clafoutis ingredients, and CIA Chef Martin Matysik explains, "In the French tradition, the batter is usually poured over fresh unstoned cherries." Some think the pits lend that special je ne sais quoi, but we've pitted our plums for convenient serving. With its light batter and neutral flavor, a clafoutis is exceptional with any of your favorite seasonal fruits, so don't hesitate to add a handful of fresh raspberries, sliced apples, or even Concord grapes.
Red plums tend to be smaller than the more common black plums found at most grocery stores, but use any variety you can get your hands on. If they are small enough, you can just halve your fruits, but larger items like nectarines or pears might be better sliced. You can fan them decoratively or scatter them for a rustic presentation.
This recipe calls for a cast-iron skillet, but you can use just about any 10-inch baking dish. Just be sure to keep an eye on your clafoutis, since your baking time may vary. You can even use individual baking dishes for a sit-down dinner party. Served with a drizzle of cream, toasted almonds, or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream, you'll help your guests forget about June's strawberry crisps with a sweet slide into autumn.
Start to finish: 40 minutes (Active time: 10 minutes)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound red plums, halved and pitted
- Confectioners' sugar, as needed for dusting
Preheat the oven to 400 F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Coat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with the butter and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir to combine. Set aside.
Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and cream in a blender, and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and pulse just until the mixture is combined, about 5 times.
Pour the mixture into the prepared skillet. Arrange the plums, cut-side up, around the pan, nestled into the batter.
Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before dusting with confectioners' sugar and serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 138 calories; 76 calories from fat; 8 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 89 mg cholesterol; 171 mg sodium; 14 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 3 g protein.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Gorge on late-summer fruit with this tangy orange fruit dip
Late summer fruit is perhaps my favorite. Berries are juicy and sweet, in their last flourish before slipping away into elite and expensive status. Peaches and plums are soft and caramel-like in flavor. Even the humble pebbly-skinned cantaloupe boasts rich orange flesh and syrupy-sweet flavor.
Like most in-season produce, it is least inexpensive this time of year, which makes my wallet happy. I'll admit: I almost always overbuy late summer fruit. Perhaps it's the threat of my favorites disappearing, or maybe it's the great prices and vitamin supply. But now is the time when I find myself serving fruit plates to my family to finish every meal, and I reach for a basket of berries for snacking. Dessert for summer barbecues almost always star sweet fresh fruit.
The perfect addition to your fruit repertoire is today's incredibly easy Tangy Orange Fruit Dip. It has only three ingredients, so it's whipped up in seconds, not minutes. And it's healthy enough that if you end up eating a whole recipe yourself, you'll still feel great, and celebrate the big boost of protein you just had. (This might be the voice of experience.)
The base of the dip is low-fat plain Greek yogurt, which gives it tang, and the aforementioned protein. Simply stir in a surprise ingredient: orange juice concentrate. A little goes a long way, but this sweet gem of an ingredient magically transforms acidic yogurt into a tangy-sweet delight that brings out the best in ripe, almost-oversweet fruit. Add some finely chopped fresh mint leaves, and you have an unbeatable combination that will complement your late summer fruit stash.
TANGY ORANGE FRUIT DIP
Start to finish: 5 minutes
- 3/4 cup 2 percent plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons thawed orange juice concentrate
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 3 cups halved strawberries, or other berries or cut fruit
Stir the yogurt and orange juice concentrate together in a small bowl. Top with the mint. Serve with fruit for dipping, or spoon on fruit for eating with a spoon.
Nutrition information per serving: 49 calories; 7 calories from fat; 1 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 2 mg cholesterol; 10 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 3 g protein.
More info: melissadarabian.net