Thursday 20 August 2009

Chocolate, cherries and secrets

Cherry Clafoutis

My gorgeous nephew is coming to stay for a few days. We have a busy itinerary - a football match, a comedy show (Tom, we’re expecting big laughs. No pressure.), restaurants of course, and a day strolling around some of Oxford’s beautiful colleges. Naturally, there will be food, lots of it, given that this is the 4,000 calorie a day boy. Angus loves chocolate, so I’m planning on revisiting a pudding we made together in France. It’s decadent, delicious and easy. If you’re not on a 4,000 calorie a day diet, then my tip is not to eat the whole thing at once.

Chocolate and cherry clafoutis

I’ve tweaked this recipe from one I discovered in a heavenly book I bought on our trip to France, Le B.A-ba du Chocolat by France’s own Nigella, Julie Andrieu. I overcooked it slightly as I was waiting for the slivered almonds to brown a little. When I make it again, I’ll either leave them out altogether or toast them a bit before sprinkling them over the top.

Serves 4-6

The ingredients

80g of plain chocolate, about 70%
200ml single cream or crème fraîche
50g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
30g plain flour
100g ground almonds
40 cherries
1tbsp Amaretto, kirsch or crème de cacao (optional)
20g slivered almonds, very lightly toasted (optional)
A little butter, softened, for greasing
A good pinch of salt

Whisking Whisking…

Stirring Stirring…

Folding Folding…

Pouring Pouring…

Serving Serving.

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas mark 2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.

Beat together the cream and sugar in a bowl, then stir in the eggs and liqueur if using. Fold in the flour, salt and ground almonds, then the melted chocolate. Butter four ramequins or one baking dish and distribute the cherries evenly in the dish/es. Do not stone them, unless you are serving them to children or the very absent minded - the cherries are much more juicy and flavoursome cooked whole. You could even leave the stalks in, as they look quite marvellous sticking out of the batter, though I’d only do this if I weren’t adding the slivered almonds. Pour over the chocolate batter, sprinkle on the lightly toasted almonds if using, and cook for 18-20 minutes, until just set but still a bit wobbly. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

And now for the secrets. Two of my favourite bloggers, Catherine at The Unconfidential Cook , and Lady P at Madly Creative recently passed onto me these two lovely awards, the Kreativ Blogger Award and the Honest Scrap Award. I’m supposed to share seven things about myself and then pass on the award to seven bloggers I admire.

Kreativ Blogger Awardhonest_award-300x290 I hope you all enjoy my nominees as much as I do. They are:

Cookie Pie, because her blog is a warm, friendly place to land on a frantic day.
Gratinée, because she writes exquisitely and her deep understanding of and love for food shines from every paragraph.
Nora the Kitchen ‘Splorer, because I love her recipes and am near addicted to her Wednesday Round Up of Deliciousness.
Real Food Lover, because she makes you think, she makes you cook, what could be better?
Syrian Foodie in London, because I want to make every single one of his recipes.
Through My Kitchen Window, because Mariana is just wonderful, even though every trip to her blog gives me a severe case of lifestyle envy.
Writing Junkie, because Avril writes so inspirationally, so clearly, so beautifully about the writing life.

As I received two awards at around about the same time which require me to do the same thing, please take your pick of the one you would like to receive. If you don’t participate in awards, then do accept this as a very small thank you for the pleasure your blogs have given me over the past few months. If you would like to participate, then post the award, link back to me and send it on to seven more people. Finally, and most interestingly, list seven curious, crazy, interesting things about yourself…

Here are mine…

1. In 1990 and 1991, I lived in Moscow. I watched tanks roll down the street, heard Pavarotti sing in a sports hall, bribed policemen with cartons of red Marlborough and learned that -20C in dry-aired Moscow feels less cold than -1C in damp old London town. I went to tea parties at embassies and met jittery young anarchists in Gorky Park. I watched Soviet statues being pulled down and Tesco supermarkets going up. And this is where I really, really learned how to cook.

2. My secret vice is vice. If I hadn’t followed the ink-splattered path into journalism, I would have loved to be a detective. Instead, I’m addicted to cop shows, crime shows, and have an unsavoury weakness for anything billed ‘based on a true story’. If I go to bed before my husband, it’s testament to his courage that he’ll curl up beside me as I fall asleep watching Snapped: Women Who Kill.

3. I have a difficult relationship with change. Hot, angry tears pricked at my eyes when the balsa-headed philistines at Hackney Council replaced the lovely old lampposts in our high street with hideous modern ones. I realise this attitude has its drawbacks. If all humankind were like me, we’d still be living in caves. But what wonderfully appointed and well catered caves they would be.

4. Sean and I met and married so quickly, when I went to apply for our marriage licence, I had no idea what his middle name was.

5. After a lifetime of owning cats, two years ago we got a dog. When he snuggled onto my lap, I found myself questioning whether he was happy or not. Subconsciously I was waiting for him to purrrrrr.

6. I’m a pretty easy-going person but I feel primal, violent, seething rage when I see people dropping litter. Come the Licked Spoon Revolution, they’ll all be buried in a pit of their own filth.

7. As a young graduate working in the slave-wage environment of book publishing, my idea of wealth was being able to afford black taxis, good cheese, cut flowers and hardback books whenever I wanted them. Twenty years on, this is still my definition of luxury. I pinch myself every time I jump into a cab with a slab of Colston Bassett, a bunch of billowy roses and some artfully jacketed tome tucked into my market basket.


  1. Thank you so much for the award - I'm honored!! *HUGS*

  2. I wish you'd gone on and listed another seven things!!! Love your pudding--I made Ina's and it was not up to her usual level of fabulousness, so I can't wait to try yours (and will undercook).

  3. I especially love your definition of wealth...mine would include being able to buy my cherished Chanel No. 5 and 19 without mentally consulting my bank account and seeing if this is the week I have to pay the garbage pick-up guys. Also, love to be able to pay someone to teach me to tap dance like Ginger Rogers, but that's a whole 'nuther story!

  4. Thank you so much for this! I am deeply honoured. I will definitely accept this and post my seven facts tomorrow.

  5. Thank you so much for the award! I'm honoured to be among the bloggers you admire - and glad to hear I'm keeping you near addicted! :D And I'm straight off to see your other nominations - that's what I love about these awards.
    PS The chocolate clafoutis looks glorious!

  6. Just popped over to say thank you Debora. I'm leaving shortly and won't be posting for 2 months so it may be a little inappropriate to accept the award so far down the track. I value that you would like to learn more about me and 'meaningful' comments from time to time is reward enough.
    I agree with Catherine; you left me wanting more! I'm particularly fascinated with your Russian experience. Sounds amazing, but I'm sure it wasn't all fun.
    I spotted your detective qualities long ago. What's a girl to do when blessed with so many talents!! Hehe.
    I look forward to catching up on your witty, creative, literary pieces upon return. Miss you already.

  7. Wow, that desert looks amazing!!

    Have fun with your nephew in town!

  8. that meme was definitely worth waiting for and i have already taken a few sneak peaks at your fav seven and there are some gooduns there, that is for certain
    i share your fascination with the darker side of humankind's psyche and my last live-in beau was freaked by my novels stashed at the bedside - even though he had a police record from a rough youth, he feared the "why" side of my interest in the mysteries of life
    some friends left this very evening for your side of the pond
    i soooo wanted to send you a package, but did not want to burden them
    but next time, i won't stand on ceremony
    i owe you at least a great cup of espresso

  9. Waiting for a blog based on the Russian Experience - cooking, shopping, exploding champagne and all...

  10. Hi Deborah
    Thank you very much for the nice words and I am very flattered that my blog made it to your list. I am really glad that you like my recipes and I really hope that you have tried or at least planning to try some of them soon.
    This Chocolate and cherry clafoutis looks delicious. I will try it soon.

  11. Hello again D,

    Small world. I'd just read your blog, went over to my blog and saw Al from Australia had just given me the same award! Anyway, I have passed mine to you (among others) so today is tumbling with prizes. Take a look anyway


  12. Thanks, D. I just posted.

  13. Come Bristle and make this for me? I'll pay for a big black taxi to drive you all the way here.
    Ps I forgot to pay for my chips and garlic bread in the pub the other day. True story. You like?

  14. CookiePie - You're so welcome!
    Catherine - I hope you enjoy it, though it's a little scary to be up against the lovely Ina...
    Anon - If you find your wealth in the thigs you have around you, then you are rich indeed. But we all need a few treats to strive for, eh?
    Gratinee - Not at all, I love your blog and I look forward to seeing your seven things.
    Nora - It's a small thank you for the delicious voyage of culinary discovery you send me off on every Wednesday.
    Oh Mariana, do take up the meme when you return from your fascinating journey. I am sure you will have such interesting insights to share. I'll miss you too.
    Jenn - Thank you!
    Lady P - Oh, your sweet and colourful self is all the thanks I need (I am trying not to be greedy here, but failing, of course I love, love, love packages). I hope your friends have a lovely time in ole Blighty. We're all in a good mood as the sun's shining and we won back the ashes from Australia (sorry, Mariana). It's a cricket thing.
    Mummy- Yes, I must write about the exploding champagne at some point! Just writing this little bit has brought back some great memories of shopping in the market and throwing dinner parties iin power cuts/-25C.
    Kano - I have so enjoyed your Ramadan recipe series and have made your wife's superlative hummus. So good.
    Miss Z - I promise you cherry clafoutis on your next visit! You are a wicked girl - more 'mistakes' like that and you'll be entombed in a giant tip jar for all eternity.


  15. I know! I'm worried it was taken out of some poor Polish girl's less-than-minimum-wage pay cheque...
    I shall hold you to that cherry clafoutis offer.

  16. Dear Debora - I have just arrived back from Spain to discover my award! How lovely of you. I am truly flattered. Unfortuntaely my server is down - so horror of horrors I cannot get on my blog to post anything but will do so just as soon as I can. The chocolate and cherry clafoutis looks divine and I'm fairly sure the 4000 a day calorie boy( also nine or was it ten?! A star GCSE boy) will have devoured it.

    Good luck with the wedding - prayers will not be necessary - it will be a triumph and I look forward very much to reading all about it

    Avril x

  17. D-

    Couldn't agree with your Mum more...we MUST have more tales of life in glad I'm not the only one in the world who nurses a secret obsession with "Snapped" (my dirty secret)


  18. Avril - I think at the last tally it was 9A*s and 2As. Whatever it was, it was a pretty glittering performance! Thanks for the wedding wishes...
    Marty - Oh, as soon as this wedding is over I promise something on my Anna Karenina episode. So pleased you share my secret telly shame. Big love to you lot.



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