Monday, April 25, 2011

Clafoutis, slow-cooked quince, scorched hazelnuts

Adapting a David Herbert recipe, via a tip from Bryan Martin, plus a bit more.

Take a couple of quinces, peel, core and quarter. Make a light sugar syrup, add a splash of vanilla, white wine vinegar and then the quinces (include the peels & cores). Put a round of baking paper over, then a lid, and bake at 120 degrees C for at least three hours until the quinces have developed full colour. Overnight at a lower temperature is also fine.

Cut the purple/red, cooled quince into pieces of about 3cm. Scatter in the base of a buttered pie dish, dot with a little butter and sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of brandy or liqueur. I used some cumquat brandy I've had on the go for a couple of years.

Now the batter. Take 250ml of milk, half a cup of sugar, half a cup of self-raising flour, a teaspoon of vanilla, two eggs and another tablespoon of brandy and add to a food processor. Process to a smooth batter then pour over the fruit and bake at 180c for 30 minutes or so until set and showing a little colour on top.

While the clafoutis is cooking, shell a couple of handfuls of fresh hazelnuts, scatter on a baking tray and the roast off briefly in the oven when the clafoutis has come out. Let them scorch just a little, then rub some of those scorched skins off in a towel. Serve wedges of the clafoutis warm or hot, with cream and the scorched hazels. A dessert wine with some age and cumquat marmalade characters goes well, such as a botrytised semillon sauvignon blanc, or try a Moscato d'Asti.

Cherry and prunes are two traditional clafoutis fruits. If using fresh cherries, roast them off in the buttered pie plate with a little butter, sugar and brandy (or kirsch) at 200 C for 5-8 minutes before turning the oven down, adding the batter and finishing the cooking as above. With prunes, try reconstituting them in some dry marsala before adding the batter.

To make cumquat brandy, take a good, solid and clean glass jar. Pick or buy enough good quality cumquats (not calamondins), give them a wash, flick off any stems, pack into the jar and add a decent amount of sugar. Fill the jar with brandy and seal. Keep in a cool, dark place, giving it a turn or two every couple of days over the first few weeks until the sugar has dissolved. Leave for a further three months then start to draw off the brandy or fruits. Will keep for years.

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