It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything by Julia Child. When I first started this blog, I intended on posting a lot from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the book that has taught me the most about finding my way around the kitchen. As I’ve learned to be a better cook and honed my techniques, I’ve become more intent on creating my own recipes. Being bogged down with work, and school, and a host of other activities has also meant that I haven’t had as much time to shop for and execute the dishes in my favourite cookbook, whose recipes can be quite time consuming.
In opening it up again, however, I’ve been reminded once more that it’s totally worth it. It’s not for nothing that Julia Child spent a decade of her life putting MtAoFC together. If you have read this book or this one, then you have an understanding of how exacting America’s queen of French cooking was, how painstakingly she created and revised each recipe until it met her high expectations. More than half a century on, this book is still incredibly popular because the recipes work. A beginner could make a wonderful dish if he or she were to follow the recipe exactly. It’s that detailed. I’ve read that both Ina Garten and Martha Stewart, the high priestesses of home cookery, taught themselves to cook by cooking their way through all the recipes in Mastering back in the Seventies when throwing dinner parties featuring French food was all the rage in the US. I’ve said it before and say it again; this is the cookbook I would have on my shelf if I could only have one.
Although I’ve posted Julia’s recipe for plum clafouti, I’m adding this one because her variation takes a different approach. She doesn’t just substitute pears for cherries (although I’ve done that and it has certainly worked). Clafouti can also be made with apples, cherries, blueberries and other berries; the best choice will depend on the season. I like to make and serve mine in a well greased cast iron frying pan measuring 9 inches/23 centimeters across the bottom. Be sure to serve this one warm, with a sprinkling of icing sugar.
Julia Child’s Pear Clafouti
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I
Serves 6 to 8
3 cups cored, peeled, and sliced ripe pears
1/4 sweet white wine, kirsch, or cognac
1/3 cup sugar
for master clafouti:
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar x 2
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour, scooped and leveled
1) Preheat oven to 350F. Combine pears with wine, kirsch, or cognac and 1/3 cup sugar and let stand for one hour. The liquid resulting from this may be used in substitute for the milk in the master recipe; in this case, omit the 1/3 cup sugar given at the end of the recipe.
2) Place the ingredients for the master clafouti, using only 1/3 cup sugar, in a blender in the order listed. Cover and blend at top speed for one minute.
3) Pour 1/4-inch layer at the bottom of your baking pan or dish. Place over moderate heat on the stove and heat until a film of batter has sent on the bottom of the dish; this will keep the fruit from sinking in.
4) Remove from heat and spread pear slices over the batter and sprinkle on the remaining 1/3 cup sugar if you are not using the liquid from the pears and sugar; smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
5) Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about an hour, until puffed and golden and a knife plunged into the centre comes out clean.