“Pear-Blueberry Clafoutis Southern-Style”

pear

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I am quite smitten with my pears this summer. I have spent some time gazing at them and even more time posing them, turning them this way and that, looking at how they catch the light at different hours of the day.  They are very willing models…silent, accommodating and seductively gorgeous.

This is not Food on Fifth’s first “pear rodeo” so to speak. In years past I have posted “A Series of Coincidences Involving Pears”,  “Pear Infused Vodka” and “A Seasonal and Southern Red Bartlett Pear-Almond Cake”. Soon a pear jam will appear on these pages…not today, but soon.

A Clafoutis (lovely to say aloud softly and be sure to keep the “s”),  and very French…a perfect pairing with my Southern twist…cornbread mix from “Southern City Flavors”, which you can buy at Whole Foods Markets or online,  and blueberries….a very oooh la la morning moment.

pear clafouti

This recipe is my adaptation of the classic French clafoutis which is pretty hard to trump. I was working on a photo shoot with Mike Weeks, proprietor of “Southern City Flavors” recently and he gave me a couple of bags of his cornmeal mix. Familiar with this product via Batch Nashville, I knew it would be a good fit with my Southern-style clafoutis.

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Quick and so easy, a warm, just out of the oven clafoutis with local berries & pears, light and custardy, just a hint of cornmeal crunch….powdered sugar or not…is what Sunday’s are made for. Oui? Oui!

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Sans a dusting of powdered sugar……..with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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Pear-Blueberry Clafoutis, Southern-Style

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

clafoutis

Ingredients:

  • 6 small ripe, but firm pears, halved & cores removed
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 TBSP softened butter
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 generous TBSP vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup white cornbread mix
  • powdered sugar if desired

Directions for Cooking:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter an 8 to 10 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the buttered dish with 2 TBSP of the raw sugar. Arrange halved & cored pears cut side down in the bottom of the dish. Scatter the blueberries over the pears. Set aside.
  3. In a blender or with a hand mixer, blend the milk, remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, salt & cornbread mix together.
  4. Pour batter over the pears & blueberries gently tapping the dish on the kitchen counter to get out any air bubbles.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown on top.
  6. Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar if desired.

“Memorial Day Pimento Cheese”

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“Memorial Day Pimento Cheese Sandwiches with Arugula”

Graveyard Cleaning Day was what I thought Memorial Day was when I was a child. I have vague memories of going to visit & clean up family graves with my Grandmother & Aunts. Raking & tidying up all the winter debris that had collected around the headstones, maybe leaving a fresh wreath. As with all Southern ritual outings food was involved. Simple sandwiches, maybe some chips and pickles, sweet tea.

 I know that I am a child of the South when I get out the jar of Roasted Red Bell Peppers/Pimentos and the slab of Cheddar cheese, start chopping and grating, dolloping mayonnaise, sprinkling black pepper & a bit of salt into a bowl for “Pimento Cheese Sandwiches”.

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I cannot remember a time I did not love Pimento Cheese spread. My Grandmother, my Mother, real Aunts, surrogate Aunts, Mother’s of friends all made it for quick and easy run-out-to-play food, cool food for hot summer days, sandwiches to take along in cars to visit the deceased.  When I was a child it was always spread on slices of soft white bread, no arugula or fancy lettuces, maybe a slice of homegrown tomatoes….that was all.

Gussied up a bit….good white Cheddar & roasted red peppers chopped… all mixed together with a generous dollop of mayonnaise, freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, thickly spread over sliced whole grain bread…this is the Pimento Cheese I made for my girls. They still like it and every now and then ask for it. We do not visit the graves of our departed, tidy up and leave wreaths, but on this Memorial Day/Grave Cleaning Day/Decoration Day we will be together and enjoy our ‘mento cheese sandwiches.

Here is what you will need:

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1/2 cup chopped Roasted Red Bell Peppers

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2 cups grated White Cheddar Cheese

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Mayonnaise (to your liking)

Salt & Black Pepper

Arugula

Here is how you do it:

1. Mix it all together in a bowl. Adjust salt & pepper to suit your taste.

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2. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid until ready to make your sandwiches. Spread on slices of whole grain bread. Add arugula.

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Bite. Chew. Enjoy. Celebrate.

Speculaas, Sinterklaas, Southern-style…..

December 5th, 2010

Photo of Sinterklaas coming into Amsterdam via boat with a stack of our freshly baked Speculaas.

Wrapped & ready to go.

The inspiration: Dutch Magazine “SINT”, Wouter brought this home from his recent trip full of wonderful old photos and new stories of  December 5th Sinterklaas celebrations & memories & recipes.

We don’t have any canals outside our house or boats for Sinterklaas to arrive at our home on 5th Avenue here in Nashville, but a few days before December 5th we invited a few friends & family for a small, last-minute “Sinterklaas Brunch” anyway. The Cumberland River is just a few blocks away so you never know?

Wouter made his spectacular, traditional Speculaas cookies to celebrate. We don’t have any of the “molds” normally used so we just made our own “free-form” designs.

“Wouter’s Speculaas”

First we made the spice mixture needed for the cookies and for this you will need:             2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon; 1 tsp ground cloves; 1 tsp ground nutmeg; 1/2 tsp white pepper; 1/2 tsp ginger powder; 1/4 tsp ground coriander;  1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Put all ingredients into an airtight jar, shake well and set aside.

Ingredients & Instructions for Speculaas:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 3 tsp baking powder; 3/4 cup brown sugar; 1 1/2 Tbsp spice mixture; 1 cup butter (2 sticks); just enough milk to wet mixture to create a dough; 1 cup whole blanched almonds

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into chunks and add to bowl.

2. Using fingers or a pastry cutter blend ingredients together until all ingredients are well incorporated and begin to form  a crumbly dough.

3. Drizzle enough milk over dough to form a ball.

4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface & pat into a flattened round. Using a rolling-pin that has been dusted with flour roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thick slab. As you roll, stop & pat dough into a rectangular shape. Dust board, dough & rolling-pin as needed with additional flour. Transfer dough to a buttered & lightly floured baking sheet.

5. Place whole almonds decoratively over surface of Speculaas dough, lightly pressing into surface.

We really like lots of almonds in our Speculaas so Wouter covered the surface. Notice how beautiful the dough is with all those “hand-print” impressions on the surface. This particular large shape Wouter calls “Broken Speculaas” as after it is baked you just serve and everyone “breaks” off a piece. A very beautiful organic dessert with a nice cup of coffee, tea or Cava.

6. Place in pre-heated oven. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until slightly puffed &edges are golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool a bit before serving. Great warm or room temp.

We wanted to give away a few Speculaas as well as send some to Wouter’s Mother, Elizabeth in Amsterdam, so we made a second batch (same recipe) except we made the cookies smaller.

Chocolate letters….a fun tradition…everyone gets their first name, first letter!

 

We had eggs baked with cream, Benton bacon, Apple Pannekoeken, chilled Cava & Blood Orange/Ruby Grapefruit juice.

This is the cookbook that has the recipe for the Speculaas. It is the cookbook that came with the gas oven Wouter’s parent’s bought in 1957. That same oven is still in their kitchen in Amsterdam. We use it when we are there and it works like a charm. The cover makes me smile.

Happy Holidays.

A bit of History: Speculaas (Dutch pronunciation: [spekyˈlaːs], French spéculoos) is a type of shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked for consumption on St Nicholas’ Eve in theNetherlands (December 5) and Belgium (December 6). In recent decades it has become available all year round. Speculaas are thin, very crunchy & slightly browned.

In the United States speculaas are often sold as Dutch Windmill cookies.[1]