Recipe: Classic French dish gets a veggie makeover
Gardening is full of surprises. This year one of mine came from the vigorous plant that I thought would give me ping-pong ball-size cherry tomatoes. Instead, they're the size of large peas, or maybe small marbles. And the plant is huge, taller than me, so there are tons of them.
Well, they're cute, but too small for a BLT, that's for sure.
So what to do with this wealth of tiny tomatoes? I was inspired by the very word "cherry." Sweet cherries are great in the French dessert called clafoutis. How about a savory clafoutis featuring this micro crop?
As it turns out, a savory clafoutis is a great brunch dish or appetizer that holds beautifully at room temperature. Not weepy, like a quiche can be, or eggy like a frittata. I used plenty of herbs and just a bit of cheese, but feel free to add more on top if you like.
Savory cherry tomato clafoutis
1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons grated mozzarella cheese (or fontina, Gruyere or cheddar)
3 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, basil, chives and thyme, divided
2-1/2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh grated black pepper, to taste
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (Wondra if you have it; it blends well)
About 2 cups small cherry tomatoes, stemmed
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-1/2-inch or 10-inch pie plate or baking dish. Whisk together in a large bowl the milk, 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Parmesan, the mozzarella (or substitute), 2 tablespoons of the herbs, the melted butter, salt, pepper and the eggs.
Then whisk in the flour; it's OK if the mixture is a bit lumpy.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Gently sprinkle the tomatoes over the batter so they're evenly distributed. Then sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan over the top. (Add more cheese of your choice here if you really like cheese and tomatoes.)
Bake for 20 minutes, or when the edges are golden brown and the center is set. Remove from the oven to cool and sprinkle the remaining herbs over the top.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
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For week of Dec. 3:
Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!
* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.
* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.
* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.
* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.
* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.
* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.
* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.
* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.
* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.
* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.
* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.
* Plant garlic and onions.
* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.
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