As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a weekend in the Finnish archipelago. We were staying at my friend's summer cottage – a wooden red house by the sea. So cliché but, at the same time, so perfect. All kind of berry bushes were growing around the house: bilberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, rose hips (unfortunately they weren't ripe yet), and red gooseberries. Every morning we went outside with our breakfast bowls, picked our berries of choice, and enjoyed them with plain yogurt and the granola I made for us. It can't get more seasonal, local, and sustainable than this, right? The very essence of Nordic summer life.
Actually, it's the very essence of the Nordic cuisine. Yesterday, I read a column in the Swedish Gourmet magazine that wondered what's really new about the so-called New Nordic Cuisine. After all, as René Redzepi has stated "In Scandinavia, we've always foraged, wandered in the forests and searched for food, long before the term even existed". And we still do.
I don't know why but it's quite hard to come by gooseberries in grocery stores and at farmers' markets these days. Are they 'out of fashion'? Can food get out of fashion? Well, I guess it can. [Apparently we aren't the only ones who have lost our love for these berries.] Furthermore, if you get lucky to find some, they most probably are the green ones. You should have seen my excitement when I saw those perfect, burgundy colored gooseberries grow in the backyard. The bushes were heavy with berries so I didn't even have to worry that there wouldn't be enough for everyone PLUS for me to take home.
On Sunday afternoon after most of the cleaning and packing was done, I took my pink bucket and started to pick those sweet gooseberries one after another always trying to be careful not to touch the sharp spines (with varying success though). I already had a specific use for them in mind: clafoutis should be their destiny.
Are you familiar with clafoutis, one of the most decadent yet simple desserts the French cuisine has to offer? Clafoutis is what would happen if pie and custard made love to each other. The custard melts in your mouth while the berries have their own dance party. It's not a treat I grew up with. I stumbled upon it years ago on Béa's blog La Tartine Gourmande and immediately fell in love with this French classic. It's versatile, simple, relatively quick to make, and a decadent treat even for special occasions. I particularly love clafoutis made with plums, peaches, or berries and always add some nut flour to the batter.
Go get some berries, or even better forage if you're lucky, and make your Wednesday brighter with a lovely clafoutis on your table!
makes one 18 cm / 7" clafoutis
In this recipe, I use gooseberries, but you can definitely use whatever fruit or berries you have around. After enjoying a gooseberries only version, I made one with a mix of gooseberries and blackcurrants which I found to be exquisite as well. As I mentioned above, I like some nut flour in my custard batter but it can be substituted with all-purpose flour if you aren't into nuts or simply can't tolerate them.
1 ½ dl (⅔ cup) whole milk
1 dl (½ cup minus 1 ½ tbsp) heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
zest of ½ an organic lemon
1 vanilla bean, split open & seeds scraped out
45 g (¾ dl; ⅓ cup) all-purpose flour
20 g (3 tbsp) almond flour
66 g (¾ dl; ⅓ cup) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3 eggs (M)
30 g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
400 g gooseberries, cleaned
powdered sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter a 18 cm / 7-inch pan. Set aside.
In a small pot, heat the milk, cream (or coconut milk), lemon zest, and vanilla seeds and bean. Take from heat, cover, and let infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and gradually add the dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter and infused milk mixture.
Arrange the berries in the prepared pan and pour the custard on top. Bake the clafoutis on the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center has has set and is golden in color. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature – the clafoutis will continue to set while cooling down.