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Monday, September 6, 2010

French Desserts & Italian Coffee

Although I think I'm far from a "food snob", I do happen to be quite particular about coffee.  And when I spent some time thinking about it over the weekend, finding the perfect cup of Joe seems to occupy the hearts & minds of a good many folks.  And don't get me wrong, there are some days when I believe all my problems could be solved by a grande Starbucks Frappuccino (those were some awfully productive days), but most of the time it's hard for me to get really excited about anything but a good Italian brew.  Whether it's cappuccinos, lattes, simple espressos, or slightly more-sophisticated marrochinos, nothing makes me happier than a cup o' java from the land of da' boot.

[Espresso at Le Petit Marcel, Paris]

And it got me thinking if our tastes really change that dramatically when we live (or travel) abroad...or is it simply that the Italians are masters of the coffee trade, and, as in fashion & fast cars, they're really hard to duplicate?

And more importantly, which coffee do I serve with my très French dessert, the clafoutis (cluh-foo-tee)?

First of all, I would make this moist treat just for the name alone. Really, how cool is clafoutis?  We traced the origin at Nicolas' parents home (when his mother whipped out a cherry-version to put us all to shame) to come from the word clafir (to fill).  It's basically a simple, very dense, cake recipe which you can fill with your choice of fruit.

[Fresh cherries for clafoutis]


[Cherry clafoutis chez les parents]

Any fruit you say? Well, on my seemingly never-ending quest to beat the end-of-summer blues (or was that the never-ending quest to eat French desserts...hmm, must have my weeks mixed-up), I decided to take clafoutis-making to the next step with a cool visit to chez Mr. Pineapple. Which was all fine & good, until you realize how long it takes to cut those puppies up.  By the time we finished slicing & dicing, I could have used an espresso shot just to get through the next phase.

[There's more than one way to skin a pineapple...or is there?]

Well, I have to say that I don't think my pineapp-clafoutis came out a nice as Nic's maman's (getting my points in early here folks), but dang, fresh pineapple really tastes delicious. And, thankfully, we packed a now less-than-shiny cafetiere from Rome to try and recreate a bit of that Italian coffee magic. It's no Nespresso, but it'll have to do...

[Slightly-less sophisticated French dessert, but très moist & delicious]

Recipe for Pineapple Clafoutis (via the Food Network):

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Pinch kosher salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the pineapple with half of the sugar, and set aside.
In another medium bowl, beat together the butter, remaining sugar, and eggs. In a third medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and fold in 2/3 of the pineapple. Spoon the mixture into a small baking dish, or 4 ramekins, and scatter the rest of the pineapple onto the top. Bake for 16 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly.

4 comments:

  1. Ciao, Tuula - I found you through Sara Louise. Love this piece, as I've been recently spoiled by caffe' italiano - and can't imagine a better pairing than with French desert! (Although, Italians won't often have their coffee until after the dessert, which took some getting used to ... in increased my Sambuca consumption, which I treat as a 2nd dessert!) Lovely blog!

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  2. Ciao Valerie, thanks for your nice comment, glad you stopped by! I really can't get enough of Italian coffee...still searching for the perfect cafe in our town :)
    And I'm a big fan of Sambuca too..have you tried any of the Italian Amaros yet? Now that's really going to the dark side :)
    a bientot! xx

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  3. Mmm, clafoutis...delish. Ah, who cares what it looks like; you will eventually master that. What matters right now is what it tastes like. (And really, to my eyes it looks pretty darn good!)

    And we have two cafetieres just like that too. I swear they make the best coffee!

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  4. Thanks for boosting my clafoutis confidence Tanya :) It is dang hard to make those wobbly-guys look good! But I really think it's my new favorite dessert.. by using fresh fruit, I can almost convince myself that it's good for me! xx

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