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It’s summer fruit season: Put your best clafoutis forward

Recipe: Showcase apricots and berries in an easy dessert

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Apricots and loganberries are baked in an eggy batter for clafoutis. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)



Apricots have such a short season locally that you have to move fast if you want to bake with them.

Apricot pie is a natural, of course, but I've learned something about that over the years: Apricot pie tastes best if you peel the apricots first. Otherwise, a slight bitterness lingers.

If you're not up to peeling apricots, and I don't blame you, instead bake a clafoutis, a wonderful fruit-centric dessert that lands somewhere between custard and cake. The bitterness isn't concentrated here, and you don't need nearly as many precious apricots.

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Fresh from the farmers market: A "before" photo of the fruit.
I wound up using one more apricot
and about eight more berries

The clafoutis' culinary ancestry is in France, where it traditionally is made with whole, unpitted cherries. (Gotta warn people when you do that.)

But really any fresh fruit can go into a clafoutis. The key is a wide, flat tart pan (a large pie pan also works) and room-temperature eggs and milk. Pour the batter around the fruit and pop it in the oven for a dessert that also works as a brunch dish. You can even eat it cold, in the unlikely event there are leftovers.

This particular version was determined by the fruit available at the Saturday farmers market. One vendor, from Apple Hill, had loganberries and tayberries along with his gorgeous blueberries. I bought some of the loganberries (a cross between blackberries and raspberries) to add color to the clafoutis. The other berries would have worked, too. Cherries also play well with apricots, though I prefer to pit them.

The recipe is adapted from several sources, including three versions on the New York Times Cooking site.

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The fruit's ready for the batter to be added. I poured it in
from the side to prevent disturbing my fruit pattern


Apricot and loganberry clafoutis
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

Butter for pan
6 to 7 fresh apricots (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup (or more) fresh berries
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup almond flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 10-inch ceramic tart pan or pie plate. (A deep 9-inch pan will work, but the clafoutis may take longer to bake.)

Halve and pit the apricots, and lay them cut side up in one layer in the prepared pan. You may need one more apricot or one fewer, depending on the size of the pan. Distribute the berries evenly among the apricot halves. Set pan aside while you make the batter.

Beat the milk and the eggs together in a bowl or large measuring cup, then blend in the vanilla extract. Whisk in the flours, then the sugar and salt, until thoroughly blended.

Pour the batter into the pan around the fruit. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the clafoutis is light golden brown and puffed. Remove to a rack and let cool 10 minutes before cutting and serving. (Clafoutis may deflate just a bit during cooling.) Or allow to cool completely before serving.




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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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