Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Clafouti with Lakemont Grapes and Quark

Clafouti is a simple French baked custard that usually is made with cherries.   The other day I was at my favorite cheese shop talking to my favorite cheese monger, Anne Saxelby, asking her what the Cheese of the Day was so I could get 40% off with my American Cheese Month Passport.

Anne said that the cheese of the day was Quark, which got us into a conversation about what does one actually do with Quark?  Anne said that the chef at Blue Hill was making it into beignets, which sounded yummy, but anything deep fried always sounds yummy to me.  So I bought some Quark having no idea what I was going to do with it and brought it home to ponder.

In the fridge I had some Lakemont grapes that I'd gotten from Buzzard Crest Vineyards Farms who, for only a few weeks a year, sells amazing, local, organic grapes. The Lakemont is a seedless, green grape that, in my opinion, is the best eating grape in the Northeast. (Marquis is a close second.)  Anyway I got this crazy idea that I would make clafouti replacing the cherries with Lakemont grapes.  Here's what I came up with:

Clafouti with Lakemont Grapes and Quark

Generously butter a 9" pie plate.

Preheat the oven to 350 F

In the bowl of a standing mixer add 2/3 cup organic cane sugar, 3 large organic eggs (local ones are best) and 1 large egg yolk,  beat until the whisk leaves a trail and the mixture has increased considerably in volume about 4-6 minutes.  Stir in 2 Tablespoons of Sauternes or Ice Wine (or a fruity white wine will do in a pinch) and 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract.
To the egg mixture add 3/4 cups Quark and 3/4 cups whole milk.  Whip until incorporated.

In a small bowl add 1/2 cup of flour and a pinch of salt.  Add all at once to the egg mixture and beat until the mixture is smooth, scrapping down the sides with a spatula if  need be.

Pour a third of the egg mixture into the prepared pie dish over which add 2 Cups (picked over and rinsed) Lakemont Grapes sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of cane sugar, cover with the rest of the egg mixture.
Sprinkle the top of the clafouti with 1 Tablespoon of cane sugar and place in the middle of the preheated oven.

Cook for 30-35 minutes or until nicely browned and a tester comes out clean.
Just out of the oven the clafouti will be puffy...
But as it settles it deflates.
Lightly sprinkle with some organic icing sugar. (Note on icing sugar: this is finely ground sugar with corn starch added to prevent caking. Corn starch if it is not organic is a GMO food and you don't want to be putting it in your mouth! Whole foods sells a reasonably priced organic icing sugar.)
To serve toss in a few fresh grapes and if you really want to make it a fancy ass dessert add a dollop of some freshly whipped, slightly sweetened cream (you could add a splash of Sauternes into it as well if you fancy a little booziness).
 My guest had a small portion, then she left and I managed to finish off half of it before bed!
The great thing about clafouti is that it is easy to make and you can make it with fruit or just keep it plain and use it as a base for stewed dry fruits, fruit compotes, fresh seasonal fruit or even maple syrup and toasted pecans!

Oh, and there are lots of recipes out there that don't call for quark, but using it allowed me to use less flour then is often called for and I thought the quark added a nice, tangy depth of flavor you don't usually get.

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