As soon as once more, I discovered myself with an overload of fruit. Certain, I like pears and apples, which present up on the market on the cusp of autumn. However I would like summer time to final so long as potential. So after I see good nectarines, peaches, and plums lingering on the market, I pack my market basket to the brim, fastidiously ensuring the fragile fruits aren’t going to get bumped and bruised, and lug my stunning bounty house.
Plums are proper up there with my favourite fruits of all. French plums fall on the candy facet, like tiny, golden mirabelles and Reine Claudes, every chew filling my mouth with a sticky plum nectar, making me attain for an additional earlier than I’ve even completed up the one I’m nonetheless engaged on.
I don’t usually bake with these plums, that are excellent for snacking, preferring sharper tasting purple plums for tarts and crisps. I just like the distinction of tangy and candy when purple plums are baked, however I used to be impressed to go resolutely French with these plums and made a flaugnarde. A dessert with roots in Périgord, and a cousin to clafoutis, one usually associates flaugnardes with pears (or no less than I do), however discovered a recipe for one with prunes and raisins in The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney.
For these of you who don’t know who Richard Olney was, he was an American who spent most of his life in France, tasting wine, and have become a widely known knowledgeable in France (and elsewhere) on French wines. He was additionally a gifted cook dinner, however he was an particularly gifted author. He wrote a number of cookbooks on his personal and penned Lulu’s Provençal Table with Lulu Peyraud. He was the inspiration for the cooking at Chez Panisse, and the restaurant’s philosophy was guided by his ebook, Simple French Food, which I used to be advised I ought to brush up on earlier than my interview to work there. To be trustworthy, I didn’t know who he was and fudged my method by the interview. (But in some way managed to get the job.) However I’ve made up for misplaced time and have develop into a devotee.
A current portrait of him, in addition to a few of his American compatriots, are a part of The Gourmands’ Way: Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy, together with M.F.Ok. Fisher, Alexis Lichine, A. J. Liebling, Julia Baby, and Alice B. Toklas, different People who lived in France and had a notable impact on the presence of French delicacies outdoors of the nation.
This revealing ebook is predicated on letters and historic paperwork, researched by Justin Spring. I met Justin when he was within the early phases of writing the ebook and had come to France to really feel out the subject, and the characters. When the ebook was nearly carried out, he advised me that I’d discover various issues in it eyebrow-raising, which had been true. There had been notable errors and flaws with Fisher’s The Cooking of Provincial France for the Time-Life Meals of the World, together with making the assertion that “French cooking means an elaborate and costly method of complicating or no less than masking meals with sauces.” Lots of the issues written about within the ebook had been extensively footnoted within the French version, for accuracy.
Julia Baby and Richard Olney had a not-necessarily easy rivalry. She bickered along with her good friend and co-author, Simone Beck, who was additionally an excellent good friend of Olney, who each had points along with her “Americanization” of French cooking. And Alice B. Toklas lived in near-poverty after her companion Gertrude Stein handed away, surrounded by work by Matisse and Picasso in her residence, which turned the property of Stein’s brother, who was less-than-gracious (and beneficiant) to the widowed Toklas.
The Gourmands’ Way is really useful studying if you wish to study a extra about these six icons who influenced generations of cooks in America, and elsewhere, together with me.
Due to Justin’s ebook, I’ve been re-reading Olney’s The French Menu Cookbook. It’s arduous to explain what an eloquent meals author he was, most likely the most effective of our technology. (He handed away in 1999.) His writing wasn’t overwrought and also you felt like he was talked to you in each recipe, from easy to sophisticated, with guided assurance and precision. He inspired cooks to make use of their senses, educating you one thing about French cooking with a exceptional financial system of phrases.
He was additionally sharp and méprisant (scornful), which regularly got here by in his recipes. One for Roast Guinea Fowl begins with a dialogue on methods to put together the fowl, “All roasting birds, in the event that they haven’t already been mangled by the butcher…” Which might be translated as – Your butcher could not know what he or she is doing, with a sly allusion that he knew greater than they did.
His headnote earlier than the flaugnarde cautioned cooks, and dinner hosts, that “These accustomed to leavened pastries could, at first contact, discover the custardy texture and the considerably leathery pores and skin weird. It’s easy honesty not often fails to seduce.”
There’s a complete lot happening in these two sentences, which appear to contradict one another, however explains the interesting honesty of this conventional French dessert whose texture is completely different for a cake or torte, which was Olney’s present. It was the right method to showcase my plums, with out being fussy – I ready this in lower than quarter-hour (a lot for French delicacies being “elaborate and costly”), and we had a heat dessert by the point we completed with dinner.
If you wish to go away the kirsch out, I’ve provided a number of substitutions. If you wish to make it with out the alcohol, add a touch of pure almond extract together with the vanilla extract. For these on gluten-free diets, though I have not tried it, it is seemingly one of many gluten-free flour mixes would work nicely for this.
That is often made with entire milk however I just like the contact of richness that heavy cream supplies, which additionally makes the feel somewhat silkier. However you should use 1 cup (250ml) of entire milk within the place of the three/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup of heavy cream.
Be at liberty swap out different fruits or berries for the plums, resembling blackberries, raspberries, cherries, apricots, nectarines, or a mixture of fruit and berries. I might keep away from utilizing something too juicy, like peaches. Pears are traditional, and in his ebook, Richard Olney makes use of prunes (which he says, with traditional Olney panache, ought to be “of the 12 months’s manufacturing, if potential”) and raisins soaked in Cognac.
Servings 4 servings
- 12 ounces (350g) plums, pitted and thickly sliced
- 3 giant egg, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (70g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling over the completed dessert
- 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup (180ml) entire milk, (or 1 cup/250ml entire milk)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch, or one other eau-de-vie, Cognac, brandy, or darkish rum
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Generously butter a 6 to eight cup (1,75l) baking or gratin dish, or a big pie plate. (I like to make use of one which’s narrower, however deeper.) Strew the plums over the underside of the baking vessel.
In a medium bowl, whisk collectively the eggs, flour, 1/4 cup sugar, heavy cream, salt, and a couple of third of the milk, till there aren’t any lumps within the combination. Whisk in the remainder of the milk, the kirsch, and vanilla extract.
Pour the custard over the plums within the baking dish. Bake on the center rack of the oven till the custard is simply barely set within the heart, about 20 minutes.
Take away from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Wait a minute, then sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar excessive.
Serving: The flaugnarde is finest served heat or at room temperature, the day it is made. It may be served chilly, though Olney says it is “much less good.”