Friday, July 26, 2013

deep summer

We got home from the pool today and discovered the raspberries I’d left out in a colander, after washing them for breakfast, had attracted a crowd of fruit flies. I guess we’re at that point in summer when everything needs to stay in the refrigerator.

The boys ran around me all day playing cops and robbers, and I could just as easily have been my teenaged self, watching my younger brother play the same game, or my grandmother Lorene, with my dad and his brothers. Summer somehow feels outside of place and time, and this day was no exception.

As we ate thick sandwiches of bonito tuna mixed with olive oil, lemon, parsley, sea salt, and cucumber, we watched a kayaker exploring close to the shore. To our amazement and, no doubt, the kayakers, an eagle appeared out of nowhere, dove down to the water very close to the boat, then flew up and away.

There is an aching loveliness to the days, our rituals – swimming at the neighborhood pool each morning, evening walks, the farmers market on Saturdays. Alexi is teaching Abbott how to do the grilling. They stand outside and talk technique. Evenings, Alexi and I sit outside, on the little deck adjacent to our bedroom, until the light is gone. We both like to face west, so we sit in our Adirondack chairs parallel to, instead of facing, each other. We sleep with the windows wide open, too hot. By morning, the chill of cool humidity wakes us enough to grope for a blanket. We all have bugbites because we haven’t gotten around to putting the screens up yet.

I’m starting to get anxious about July drawing to a close, as I do. I worry that we won’t be able to fit in everything we hoped to. August is always busy with birthdays, visitors, travels. I like it that way – squeezing every last drop out of summer – but I feel the loss of the ordinary days.

At the farmers market last Saturday, I was amazed to see that every kind of bean now seems to be available – romano, dragon, cranberry, green beans in a couple of varieties, and a few I’m forgetting. And there were small, earthy potatoes, beautiful in an ordinary way, carrots barely larger than those that get weeded out, summer squash in a riot of shapes, yellow and purple beets and kohlrabi and tender stalks of broccoli and CORN! And berries and cherries. I bought more than we could comfortably carry on the mile-long walk home.

I bought so many cherries, we still have some remaining nearly a week later. I pitted all that we had left – about 4 cups worth! – then filled the blender with about half of them, along with an approximately equal ratio of maple yogurt. We had smoothies for an afternoon snack. Then I made a clafoutis. It’s so simple to make, and so luxuriously good. If I bake nothing else all summer I’ll be satisfied knowing that I made this.

Cherry Clafoutis

Adapted slightly from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson

This recipe also works well with raspberries, apricots, and peaches.

2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
¾ cup (150 g) sugar, plus ¼ cup (50 g) sugar for topping
½ of a vanilla bean
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (50 g) all-purpose flour
2 cups pitted cherries (or other fruit)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly butter a 10-inch pie dish or ceramic quiche mold.

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean, 3/4 cup sugar, and pinch of salt. Place the pan over medium heat, stirring intermittently to dissolve the sugar, until the liquid is just under a boil. Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, crack one of the eggs into a large, heatproof bowl. Gradually add the flour to the egg, whisking continually, until there are no lumps remaining. Add the remaining 2 eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until the mixture is smooth.

Slowly ladle the hot milk mixture into the flour-egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Gently, evenly distribute the fruit into the batter.

Bake until just set in the center and slightly puffed and browned around the outside, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove the custard from the oven and turn up the temperature to 500F. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup sugar evenly over the top of the clafoutis. Return the custard to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to caramelize the sugar. Watch it carefully, as it will darken quickly.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers make a terrific breakfast, straight out of the refrigerator.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.


Jess said...

Yum! A cherry clafoutis would set me up right!
Summer is flying by here too.

Ivy Lane said...

Beautiful post and photos! I especially like the wild daisies on the path.... Thanks for sharing the clafoutis recipe!

Happy Weekend!



Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Summer perfection. Carry on.

Diane said...

i can just feel summer in your post "squeezing out every last drop". the
cherry clafoutis sounds wonderful.

Tirzah Mounsey said...

Your remark about you and Alexi both facing west reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote I can't recall perfectly, but the sentiment is that love is not about two people looking at each other, but facing the same direction side by side. Lovely post, as always.

Lecia Phinney said...

Tirzah: I love that.

Thank you, friends. xo