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Cherries, blueberries star in this versatile dessert

Recipe: Cherry-blueberry clafoutis, served warm or cold

Bowl of red cherries
It's cherry season, and these beauties are
destined for a clafoutis. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)


This is cherry season, a fleeting late-spring delight. For home growers, every little fruit seems like a miracle – or a challenge. So many things – wind, rain, birds, squirrels – can destroy a once-promising crop. But for the lucky grower with a full tree, a bounty of cherries also produces a mountain of pits.

Blueberries are ripening now, too. This month, my little blueberry bushes are finally producing enough berries to actually MAKE something and not just nibble in the garden. But one cup at a time is not enough to make a full fruity dessert with just blueberries.

Thanks to a neighbor’s generosity, I had a pint of fresh-picked homegrown cherries, as bright and beautiful as rubies, to go with my cup of blueberries. Together, they were just enough fruit for this combination clafoutis.

A clafoutis (pronounced klah-foo-tee) is a French fruity flan-like dessert. Tradition dictates that it be made with cherries, preferably black. Any other fruit, this dessert becomes a flaugnarde, according to my French cookbooks.

But that’s in France. American cooks (myself included) adapt this dessert to what’s in season – including blueberries, apricots, pears and apples. And we call it a clafoutis or clafouti (with no “s”). Either way, it’s delicious.

Another plus: This versatile dessert can be served warm or cold, making it a perfect summer treat. (It’s also tasty for breakfast or brunch.)

Instead of a traditional post-baking dusting of powdered sugar, a little Demerara sugar before baking adds crunch to the top of this clafoutis.

Bakes clafoutis in dish
The clafoutis is topped with Demerara
sugar for a nice crunch.

Cherry-blueberry clafoutis

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

Butter and sugar to grease and dust pan
2 cups cherries, pitted
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup flour
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
Whipped cream, optional

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare an 11-inch tart or quiche pan or 10-inch deep pie plate. Grease pan with butter. Sprinkle with sugar, then invert to remove excess. Set aside.

Clafoutis slice with whipped cream
The whipped cream topping is optional for serving but
delicious.


In a large bowl, gently toss cherries, blueberries and 1 tablespoon sugar. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until foamy. Add ½ cup sugar and beat until foamy and fairly thick. Add the flour and beat until smooth. Then, add cream, milk and vanilla; beat until mixture is smooth and thick.

Arrange the fruit in a single layer at the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour batter over fruit. Sprinkle with Demerara sugar over top.

Bake at 350 degrees until top is nicely browned and custard is set; a thin knife blade inserted near center will come out clean (about 30 minutes).

Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.



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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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