Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

Why am I so crazily mad about French Clafoutis at this time of year? It’s such an easy eggy custard-style classic dark cherry dessert – but it’s also just as delicious made with fresh raspberries – or my latest addictive craze, with strawberries and pistachio.  Have you, however, tried it as a savoury dish? You must try this delicate Asparagus Clafoutis.

Lemon Asparagus Clafoutis

White Asparagus Clafoutis

You may recall I tried out this large custardy version of a White Asparagus Clafoutis recipe inspired by chef, Eric Frechon from the Bristol in Paris.  However, since then I’ve lightened up the recipe.

This time the asparagus shines through with less parmesan cheese and yolks, I’ve added a subtle touch of lemon zest and made them as individual Asparagus Clafoutis portions – just perfect for a summery starter or light supper served with a crusty French baguette.

How to prepare asparagus

Stacked as they are sold at our local market

Lightly Served

Just before serving, dribble a little olive oil and some lemon juice over the asparagus. While the clafoutis are creamy enough on their own, the lemon version prefers to stay light – great for those on a summer diet!

Lemon Asparagus Clafoutis

Green Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

Not everyone, however, seems to be in love with white asparagus, as I’ve discovered through your comments via Facebook and Instagram.

Instead, the printable recipe below is for a green asparagus version – this time without the lemon and served with the most silky, creamy parmesan sauce.

Asparagus Clafoutis

This time last year, I was generously invited to take part in Paris Perfect’s cookery classes with Chef Philippe Excoffier in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, where I wrote up this article about the delicious experience.

Chef Excoffier showed us how to prepare asparagus, telling us there was nothing to beat the old-fashioned traditional way and to remove the pedoncules or spikes to make digestion easier. He also served his legendary cheese soufflés – the Soufflés Suissesse. I strongly recommend trying out his signature dish in his restaurant in rue de l’Exposition, near the Eiffel Tower.

Asparagus Clafoutis

Remove the pedoncules or spikes to make asparagus easier to digest

Clafoutis is not exactly the most stylish looking of dishes and not to be confused with a soufflé.  While a soufflé stays upright and puffy, made with bechamel and whisking up the egg whites, the much easier clafoutis falls back down after cooling from the oven – there’s nothing to worry about when that happens: it’s totally normal and as it should be!

Chef Excoffier added a parmesan sauce to his soufflés and I find that this adapted version compliments the Asparagus Clafoutis so well.  Although the clafoutis are already creamy inside and light, this cheesy addition means saucing it all up with the freshest French baguette.

Asparagus Clafoutis

Serve them directly in their pots, to make it even easier!

Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe

5 from 4 votes
Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe
Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

A perfect elegant yet simple dinner starter or light summer supper served with crusty French baguettes to mop up the most silky creamy parmesan sauce.

Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Light Lunch, Starter, Supper
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 395 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb) fresh asparagus
  • 3 eggs organic
  • 2 egg yolks organic
  • 10 g (4 tsp) all-purpose flour (or 2tsp cornflour to make this gluten-free)
  • 115 g (4 oz) half-fat single cream
  • 50 g (1.75oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 1 tbsp grated zest of half an unwaxed lemon (optional - for white asparagus version only)
  • good pinch each salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Sauce
  • 50 g (1.75oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 140 g (5oz) single cream
  • good pinch each ground nutmeg, salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan/Gas 4.  Prepare 4 ramekin oven dishes by greasing them well with softened butter. 
    Snap the asparagus spears 2/3rds of the way down, where they break naturally. Peel them as close as possible to the spear heads then cut the spears into 3.

  2. Fill a large pan with water and bring to a rolling boil.  Add a generous heaped teaspoon of salt to the cooking water. Prepare a large bowl of (preferably iced) cold water.

  3. Cook the asparagus for 3 minutes (no more than 4 minutes!) then remove with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to the cold water to stop the cooking process. 

  4. When cool, drain the asparagus, setting aside 4 spears for the decor and 4 for the ramekins. Place the others in a food processor and mix to a purée with the cream. 

  5. Prepare the clafoutis batter: beat the eggs, yolks, flour, grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper.  Mix in the creamy asparagus mixture then pour the batter into the individual buttered ramekin dishes, placing a third of a spear in each. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly for 5-10 minutes, then using a sharp knife, cut around the edges to remove and place directly on the serving plates.

For the Parmesan Sauce:
  1. Bring the cream to the boil, adding some salt, pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg.  Add the parmesan then beat together well until smooth with a balloon whisk. Serve immediately around each clafoutis.

Recipe Notes

Keep back one asparagus spear per person for the decor.

If making the clafoutis with white asparagus, add lemon zest. There's no need for the parmesan sauce - just serve with a dash of olive oil and lemon juice.

For the green asparagus clafoutis, serve with the parmesan sauce.  I used 4 ramekin dishes but muffin moulds also work well, including briochette silicone moulds (this recipe makes 6 if using briochette moulds).

Wine Suggestions: Serve with a rich, aromatic white wine - such as a Chardonnay, Voignier, a Pinot Blanc from Alsace, or white Rioja.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Asparagus Clafoutis with parmesan sauce

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Mint Omelette – Corsican Style

This week, I made one of our favourite easiest, summer lunches while taking a quick break from gardening: a Mint Omelette. I make it often in summer (totally copied from Antoine’s Corsican mum) to help contain our friendly-but-proliferating mint varieties, as it makes a deliciously refreshing dish, served with plenty of fresh, crusty baguette. Well, it’s a change from Mojito Macarons.

As I posted this photo on social media, your reactions were, “What? There’s just mint in it?”

Yes, there is.  My mother-in-law always makes it just with mint – but there are two versions to a Corsican Mint Omelette: one is with mint, the other with mint and cheese.  However, I didn’t tell you the best part about a Corsican omelette.

Mint Omelette Recipe

Firstly let me tell you, if you’re new here, that my husband is Corsican. He’s from l’Ile de Beauté, the beautiful island that sits southeast of  France’s hexagone and above the Italian island of Sardinia. While Corsica has officially been part of France since 1768, its culture is still predominantly Italian.

It’s fascinating listening to my mother-in-law speak the Corsican language with her neighbours, with its Italian and French lilts. To give you an example, bonjour is bonghjornu and au revoir is avvèdeci. Admittedly, I’m too shy to attempt the lingo, as there’s a particular accent that sets the Corsicans apart – you could say it sets their ‘bones apart’ (Sorry, couldn’t resist an awful pun, as Napoleon Bonaparte was born here). My only two words are va bè (ça va), said slowly with a positive shoulder-shrugging gesture that probably says, “I may sound ridiculous but yes, everything is cool here”.

Two-thirds of the island is dramatic mountains with perched hilltop villages, which influences Corsica’s cuisine. Although fresh fish and seafood are popular in the touristy coastal resorts, inland there’s trout from the rivers – always served simply – but good, rustic food from the land features most. Corsicans love their meat (namely lamb, boar and lots of veal: try this Corsican Veal and Peppers recipe here), their own cheeses (notably brocciu – read more here in my recipe post for Fiadone, Corsican Cheesecake), vegetables and wild herbs from the unique maquis, the most unmistakably Corsican fragrance of the surrounding shrublands.

Corsican herbs like mint in cooking

Corsican dishes rely on the land, using herbs and vegetables fresh from the garden

Antoine’s family hilltop village is nearest the mountain town of Corte. Homegrown vegetables and herbs are in nearly all of the villagers’ gardens and, while there are plenty of dishes I could cite here, let’s focus on mint – otherwise I can feel the next book coming on.

It’s a powerful, yet subtle ingredient that’s added to many of the most memorable dishes I’ve had in Corsica, including the traditional Cannelloni au Brocciu. Ever since I tasted the mint coming through the cheese in a restaurant in Rogliano (in Corsica’s top finger) I make a lazy version of it (without stuffing cannelloni tubes). Adding mint just gives it that special, extra intriguing taste to this Corscian Brocciu Lasagne and stuffed cheesy courgettes – like, “What is it that I’m tasting?”

It’s peppermint.

Differences between a French and Corsican Omelette

I left the best for last. So, what makes a Corsican omelette different to a regular French omelette?

Mint Omelette

One is folded over, the other is served flat but still runny and soft inside

Corsican omelettes are made using olive oil and, instead of being folded or rolled over, they are served flat – cooked more underneath and just a quick minute more on the facing side.  As with the regular omelette, it’s still deliciously runny inside; as the French say, it’s an Omelette Baveuse – literally dribbling.

Corsican Mint Omelette with cheese

Best Substitute for Brocciu Corsican Cheese

Traditionally, brocciu cheese is often added to a mint omelette – but as it’s difficult to find (often expensive) and not widely available during the summer months (it’s normally produced between November to June, when the milk is at its richest – otherwise it’s known as ‘brousse’ if it’s not 40% fat by AOC standards), we need an alternative. A Corsican chef told me to use la Faisselle in France, which is good, but I believe the best substitute for brocciu is a good quality, soft fresh goat’s cheese – although a good, salty ricotta cheese also works well.

Mint Omelette Corsican recipe - step by step

Mint Omelette – Corsican Style

A frittata incu a menta (e brocciu)

5 from 2 votes
Corsican French Mint Omelette
Corsican Mint Omelette
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

A simple omelette dish, popular in Corsica made with mint and often includes Brocciu cheese. If you can't find fresh Brocciu, a good fresh goat's cheese or ricotta is excellent.

Course: Light Lunch, Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: Corsican, French
Keyword: Corsican,, easyrecipes,, Mint, Omelette,
Servings: 3
Calories: 241 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 7 Eggs Organic
  • pinch each salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil Extra Virgin
  • 10-15 Fresh mint leaves (peppermint) each leaf torn in half
  • 50 g (2oz) Brocciu or fresh goat's cheese roughly chopped or crumbled (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick omelette pan over a medium heat.

  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs just until the eggs and whites are mixed together. Add the salt and pepper, according to taste.  

  3. Tip the egg mixture into the pan with the hot oil. As the eggs cook, quickly move around the mixture away from the sides, tilting the pan so that the liquid from the middle goes all around the outside, to enable more even cooking.

  4. Top evenly with the mint and cheese (if using) and, while still a bit liquid, top with a large plate and tip the omelette onto the plate.  Carefully, slide the omelette back into the pan, cooking the other side just for a minute then serve the omelette with the least cooked side upright.  The omelette should be soft and runny in the middle ("baveuse" or dribbling, as the French say).

    Corsican Mint Omelette recipe - step by step
Recipe Notes

Corsican omelettes are served flat and not folded over like French omelettes.  It doesn't matter if the omelette isn't coloured - just ensure the eggs are cooked but the omelette is still a bit runny or baveuse

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Mint Omelette, Corsican style

 

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Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops – and a Flooded Seine

This weekend, as we’re waiting for the flooded Seine to rise to its peak in Paris and upstream today or tomorrow, we’re also keeping spirits high – both here and in Burgundy.  First with the Fête de Coquille de Saint Jacques (Scallop Festival) high on the hill in Montmartre and the 74th Fête de Saint-Vincent Tournante wine festival in Burgundy. As I’m not able to go to either of them, I’ve instead made a comprise of the two in a dish: Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops.

Paris January 2018 Seine Floods

The Seine Floods January 2018

France’s meteorological service has confirmed that this is now the third-wettest last couple of months on record since data collection began in 1900.  Luckily, it looks very unlikely that we’ll reach the record flooding of 1910, when the river Seine rose to a whopping 8.62 metres.  Even although we live near the Seine next to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris, in 1910 the flooding came as far as the bottom of our garden!

The tourist river cruises and all other boat traffic on the Seine in Paris and upstream has been stopped. It’s not difficult to see why by these photos I took on Thursday afternoon.  Already it was approaching close to 6 metres, more than four metres above its normal height. But apart from some RER and metro lines closed, the City of Light is in good hands and the skies are holding off on the forecasted rain – for the moment!

curried cauliflower soup seared scallops

Annual Burgundy Wine Festival Inspiration

This year’s Burgundy wine festival, la fête de Saint Vincent Tournante, is taking place in Prissé, Macon.  I’ve been thrilled to take part in previous festivals – and even interviewed on French radio! Join me in the typical ambience by reading these posts on Clos Vougeot, 2015 and Saint Aubin in 2014: the chosen village gears up to the event by decorating trees, houses, wine casks and the likes with coloured crèpe paper flowers (representing the wine qualities – white flowers or fleurs blanches) and interesting sculptures. As we’re given the list of local wine producers taking part with their special festival blends, we flit between tastings trying to keep warm with stands offering simple dishes that compliment the wines.

In 2014, I distinctly remember a welcoming bowl of curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops.  The French are not known as being soup lovers but this chef was popular that day, as he served out this comforting, healthy soup – with the crème de la crème of seared, almost sweet, scallops fried in front of us and left to sink into the soup as we were holding our glasses of Saint Aubin white wine balanced on a string around our necks.

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops

Ever since that delicious moment, I have been making this at home as it’s so easy to reproduce.  When it comes to curry, the French never serve it hot and spicy: instead it’s usually only lightly fragranced with curry powder – perfect so as not to overpower the scallops, as we’re left to appreciate their nutty flavours in browned butter and hint of turmeric. I’ve recently discovered a Scottish Hebridean smoked salt from the Isle of Lewis which, topped to finish, is a most subtle compliment to finish it all off – and, if you have my book, Mad About Macarons, it’s brilliant served with a mini curry Tikka Macsala macaron!  The spicy curry’s fire is put out by the balancing sweetness of the macaron shells.

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops

 

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops

seared scallops in turmeric and smoked salt

 

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

A lightly curried cauliflower soup given the French touch with sweet, seared fresh scallops in turmeric and Scottish smoked salt.

Course: Main, Soup, Starter
Cuisine: French, Scottish
Servings: 6
Calories: 139 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 large cauliflower weighing about 1kg/2lb, leaves & core removed, cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (or ground cumin)
  • ground pepper
  • 2 tsp salt fleur de sel
  • 900 ml /30fl oz chicken/veg stock
  • 6 fresh scallops
  • 20 g /0.75oz butter unsalted
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp smoked salt optional
  • fresh coriander leaves & dried onions for garnish and curry macarons!
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy based pan and add the onion. Cook gently for 5 minutes without browning. Add the cauliflower florets and curry powder and sauté in the oil for another 5 minutes until the curry coats the florets. Add the pepper, salt and stock (the stock should be at the same level as the cauliflower, just enough to cover).
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and once foaming, add the turmeric and scallops. Sear them for about one minute on each side (depending on their thickness – please don’t overcook as they’ll turn rubbery). Top with a pinch of smoked salt, if using. You may want to cut the scallops in half.
  5. Pour the soup into bowls, add a scallop each to sink into the soup and serve with crispy onions, fresh coriander and a mini curry macaron (optional! Recipe in my 1st book, Mad About Macarons)

Recipe Notes

Food & Wine Pairing:

What wine to accompany this curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops? A chilled glass of white Burgundy or a Chenin Blanc.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Cheers! Santé !

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