Sometimes I get a bit carried away in the moment and this always leads to me making bold statements, of which I have little intention to stick to. I can’t help it, I have drama in my blood. As a man who likes to discuss things in a civilised fashion- minus the fists and legs beating the floor, Don on occasion finds my flair for dramatics quite uncouth. Like the time when he was trying to propose on the Brooklyn promenade looking out over the Manhattan Skyline as the first snow flurries of winter came down. Ignorant of his romantic plans, I was kicking up a fuss about the cold and found the only way to keep warm was by singing a rude song and dancing like a gypsy in an Eskimo suit. Now, there’s a man with patience.
Last week I claimed that I would no longer be cooking with apples be it not without the tart English Bramley and then I found myself over the course of the week fed up with sweet Honey crisps scattered over my porridge and dunked in peanut butter. Which led me to think that if no good desserts could be made of them, then how about something savoury? Too sweet for sweets but sweet enough for savoury- it’s a concept that even I whom madeth it am struggling to find sense in.
Sometimes I scare even myself.
I set about scouring my ever growing collection of food sources- hardbacks, paperbacks, bestsellers, magazines, tear-outs, work files. Somehow I still always find myself tapping into Google but the results were all certified teeth-rotters, nothing wholesome in the bunch. But the idea of a clafouti sans sucre sort of appealed. I love the way they look when they’re baking- like Yorkshire puddings rising up at the corners, out of the hot fat all golden and bubbly. I would never buy an oven without a viewing window – I find watching things rise in the oven more relaxing than yoga and more captivating than most cable TV . The combination wasn’t without potential pitfalls- could a clafouti work without sugar? Would apples and eggs go together? Well, what’s the worst that could happen? “Um, we might not get lunch?” Don, always to hand with the insightful comments- but it was too late I was already getting carried away unloading the contents of my fridge.
The result- a pastry-less quiche, tangy with blue cheese, rich with buttermilk, a hint of sweetness with the apples and crunch from the walnuts seasoned delicately with sage all bursting out of the egg casing. So, I apologise for being so stand-offish about American apples last week- it didn’t take to much pounding the floor with my fists to come around. Perhaps I’ll even give those Granny Smith’s another try. And no, I’m not getting carried away this time.
Apple & blue cheese clafouti
250ml/1 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)
75g/ 6 Tbsp butter, melted plus 2 Tbsp extra to grease
85g/ 2/3 cup plain flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
50g/ 2 oz crumbled blue cheese
30g/ 1 oz chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp butter
1 large tart apple (about 200-300g), cored and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp thyme leaves (or chopped sage)
1/ Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Grease a 9 inch square or round baking tin using the 2 Tbsp butter and place in the heated oven with any leftover butter.
2/ Mix together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, flour, sugar, salt and blue cheese until well combined.
3/ For the apples. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium-high heat until it begins to turn brown. Add the apples, sugar, salt and thyme leaves and toss in the pan about 2-3 minutes, until the apples begin to soften slightly.
4/ Remove the hot pan from the oven, quickly pour in roughly two thirds of the batter, scatter over the apples evenly and then top with the remaining batter. Scatter over the walnuts and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the edges have pulled away from the side of the pan and it’s golden all over. Serve warm with a salad.