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French Monkfish Stew (Lotte à L’Américaine/L’Armoricaine)

I love this easy monkfish recipe and each time I make it, the family ask why we don’t have it more often. That’s coming from my eldest daughter who doesn’t even like white fish!  This French Monkfish stew is normally served on special occasions and is known as both Lotte à L’Américaine and Lotte à L’Armoricaine.

This recipe was originally published on le blog on 19 July 2016. As it is a popular recipe here, I have updated it to include a printable recipe card, a short video and more about the history of this French dish.

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french monkfish stew no bones

A French Fish Dish For Special Occasions

When first starting out in Paris nearly 30 years ago, I remember being bowled over by this dish cooked by Antoine’s friends. It’s a regional speciality of Brittany: a chic yet simple French Monkfish stew, Lotte à l’Armoricaine is cooked in white wine, garlic, onions and tomatoes with that extra French touch of being flambéed with Cognac.

It was the first time we were served fish for the main course at a French dinner and boy, did it leave a delicious mark on me.  The fish was firm and tasty and somehow the fish hadn’t disintegrated into the sauce.  It was so good, that I eventually managed to persuade them to tell me the recipe and over the years, I’ve made it in this way with more garlic and a hint of Cayenne pepper to give it that intriguing and subtle kick.

I often read in French cookbooks that the best way to serve monkfish is either roasted or grilled – but served as this classic French monkfish stew, you’ll discover just how a simple fish dish can be taken to another level.

rue de la poissonnerie french sign

Lotte à L’Américaine or Lotte à L’Armoricaine?

Later, I discovered this monkfish dish on some Parisian restaurant menus as Lotte à l’Américaine. Had they made a mistake? No. In our French gourmet dictionary, Larousse Gastronomique, it’s only known as Lotte à L’Américaine.

Both names refer to the SAME dish, although the Breton Armoricaine version adds a touch of crème fraîche at the end of cooking.

Let me tell you the story of the two names, although it’s a bit rough around the edges and can’t find any more on the subject.

The sauce à l’Armoricaine is a traditional French recipe from coastal Brittany where it is most commonly prepared with shellfish, or used to flavour firm white-fleshed fish such as La Lotte or Monkfish– otherwise known as poor man’s lobster.

The story dates back to the end of the 19th century when it was created by French chef Pierre Fraisse, originally from Sète who had returned to Paris from working in the USA. A group of clients arrived in his restaurant, Peter’s, and he realised all he had was tomorrow’s lobster: so he rustled up a lobster dish in a tomato sauce, reminiscent of his native South with Breton overtones. When prompted for the name of the recipe, he called it Lobster – with an American Sauce.

french monkfish stew rice beans

Monkfish: No Small Bones

Monkfish, or la lotte in French, is normally presented on our fish stalls without the ugly head – I’ve rarely seen it here hence I have no photos but if you look it up, you’ll see it’s a specimen that would be the bad guy in a film like Nemo! Hence why it’s also known as “sea-devil” (diable de mer) or “frog-fish” (crapaud).

How many times have you been served fish and you’re trying to filter out the bones in your mouth while juggling polite chit-chat at the table?

Once the large central bone is removed, there are NO OTHER BONES in sight – making it perfect to serve for special occasions.

What Does Monkfish Taste Like?

All the monkfish meat is in the tail (queue de lotte) and I say ‘meat’ as it’s a firm, ‘meaty’ fish. Also referred to as “Poor Man’s Lobster”, it even tastes a bit like it, as it has quite a sweet taste to it. So, it’s a fish version of lobster that’s slightly cheaper! Moreover, when cooked the fish doesn’t flake.

monkfish french market display

Monkfish – Perfect for Cooking

My daughter, Julie, says it outright. She just doesn’t like fish, especially white fish and yet will eat monkfish – only if done this way with such a delicious, thick tomato sauce. What’s more, it’s healthy too.

Monkfish is perfect for cooking as it doesn’t break up in cooking (as long as you follow the instructions below). The secret is to remove the fish after initially browning it on all sides and then TAKE IT OFF THE HEAT to cook the sauce.

Just add the fish back in to the pot 10 minutes before the end of cooking.  That way the fish is beautifully cooked. As fish is quite expensive, I like to respect it: overcooking will just turn the fish medallions into bullets, so please don’t leave the fish to cook all during the recipe.

french monkfish stew

Do I Need to Make Fish Stock?

I used to make a fish stock for this recipe but over time I have become rather lazy and honestly don’t see a  difference in flavour with this version. See my video for details.

If you really want to make your own fish stock, ask your fishmonger for the skin and bone to be packaged separately to make your own fish stock (see note below).
Fish Stock Tip: as you’re leaving the fish stock to cool, tell anyone lurking around the kitchen what it is: the first time I made this as a student, my Dad poured my precious hard-worked fish stock down the sink thinking it was dirty water!

Another reason why I don’t bother!  See the recipe below.

French monkfish casserole

How To Serve French Monkfish Stew

Whether dishing this up for family or for a dinner party, I love to serve this directly from the cooking pot at the table.

Serve with fluffy rice and green beans; for stress-free entertaining, I prepare the green beans in advance until just cooked, then plunge into chilled water (to stop the cooking process) then drain and keep aside until ready to serve.  At the last minute, I sauté the beans (haricots vert) in olive oil with finely chopped garlic and fresh parsley.

This dish is also perfect for serving outdoors. Serve with a chilled rosé and plenty of laughter with lively conversation.

french monkfish stew pin

French Monkfish Stew
(Lotte à L’Américaine/Armoricaine)

5 from 11 votes
French Monkfish Stew (Lotte à L'Américaine/Armoricaine)
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 

An easy Monkfish recipe from France using meat from the monkfish tail cooked in tomatoes, garlic, onions, white wine, Cognac and served with rice - a perfect dish for special occasions

Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: French
Keyword: easy fish recipes, French Monkfish classic dish, Lotte à l'Américaine
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 488 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 2 kg (5lb) Large monkfish tail fillets (already prepared)
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 50 g (2oz) butter (unsalted)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp Cognac (if no Cognac, use Whisky)
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 tin (400g) peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée (concentrate)
  • 400 ml (14 floz) white wine
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 branch fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cut the monkfish tail fillets into large medallion chunks.

    Coat the fish lightly in the flour on a large plate.Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy-based crockpot (dutch oven) and once slightly bubbling, add the fish. Lightly brown on all sides then add the Cognac. Take the pan off the heat and flambé off the alcohol (consequently if you’re worried about doing this, just add it into the pan and boil it off).

  2. Using a slotted spoon, place the fish medallions aside on a plate.

    Meanwhile, in the same pan, gently fry the onion & garlic back on the heat until translucent, then add the tomato, purée, wine, cayenne, bay leaves, thyme and pour in the juices from the removed fish.

    Bring to a boil then leave to simmer and reduce (uncovered) for about 30 minutes.

  3. Return the fish to the pot and heat through for just a further 10 minutes but be careful not to cook for much longer, otherwise the fish will turn into bullets!

    Add the fresh parsley and a few turns of the salt and pepper mills to taste and, if using, stir in the crème fraîche.

Recipe Notes

Serve with fragrant rice, fresh green beans and extra parsley.

*I used to make this with fish stock but now just drain the juices from the removed fish (see on VIDEO HERE)
For purists who prefer with, here's a Quick Fish Stock: Put the skin and fish bone in a large pan with a carrot, onion, fennel bulb, 2 bay leaves, sprig of thyme, 5 peppercorns and add just enough water to cover. Boil, remove any scum, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and cool.

WINE SUGGESTIONS: a fruity and sunny ample white such as Crozes Hermitage, Meursault, Savennières or Alsace Riesling; or a rosé such as Bandol, Côtes de Provence; or a red Sancerre.

Nutritional Information: 488 Calories per serving; 64g protein, 13g lipids.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

 

 

French Chocolate Mendiants – Perfect Easter Hats!

If any of you have walked around the inviting chocolate shops and patisseries around Paris, you may have spotted some French Chocolate Mendiants.  They’re delicious disks of chocolate covered in colourful dried fruits and nuts.

Read on for the story behind them but in the meantime, I think they make perfect hats to top macarons, cupcakes, cookies – or any of your favourite sweet treats for some fun. In this case, add a few mini Easter eggs and you have the perfect Easter Bonnet!

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french chocolate mendiants easter

This recipe was originally published on 6 April 2012 but the text and photos have been updated with a new printable recipe card.

What are French Mendiants?

Mendiant means ‘beggar’ in French. Mendiants are popular confiserie in France: simple disks of chocolate (dark, milk or white) with at least four kinds of dried fruit and nuts.

Each represents the robe colours of four mendicant monastic orders from the Middle Ages.

Fascinating, n’est-ce pas?

Mendiants are great for serving as mini bites or mignardises with coffee after dinner but are normally seen for special occasions such as Christmas. But since we’re talking chocolate – let’s make them for Easter… or for any time of year!

how to make french chocolate mendiants

Dried Fruits and Nuts the Colour of Mendiant Monks’ Robes

According to French tradition, raisins stand for the Augustinians, hazelnuts for the Carmelites, dried figs for the Franciscans, and almonds are for the Dominicans.

However, over time things have become totally out of hand: confectioners are adding orange peel, pistachio nuts, candied ginger and now I’ve added goji berries soaked in Kirsch (only because I forgot to buy some cranberries) and mini chocolate praline Easter eggs or even French chocolate fish!

almond lemon easter cake

This was used as decoration for this gluten free Lemon Easter Cake.

french chocolate disks mendiants

French Chocolate Mendiants Ideas for Toppings

Here I used dark chocolate and coarse praline chocolate, but mendiants can be made with plain, milk or white chocolate.

Use different nuts (I personally like to toast mine as it adds more depth of flavour) and dried fruits to add a contrast in textures and flavours.

I also added broken Mikado sticks (do you have these in America?) and homemade zig-zag sticks (just by melting chocolate and zig-zagging it on baking paper, then peeling off when set) for a nest and mini Easter eggs.

french chocolate mendiants disks easter

Easy to Peel Chocolate Off

As you can see, I’ve just used baking parchment to spoon the melted chocolate and – using the back of a spoon – form circles directly onto the sheet without any guide.  There’s no need!  They don’t need to be absolutely perfect: the spoon actually does make them into circles themselves.

Over time, however, I did eventually find a use for my silicone macaron mat (this links to my non-sponsored review, as I don’t need fancy gadgets to make homemade macarons (tips are all in my books). Using the macaron mat with it’s groovy circles, by spooning the chocolate into them, when I peel them off once set the chocolate is absolutely perfect.

how to make french chocolate mendiant disks

Do I need to Temper Chocolate for Mendiants?

Normally, professional chocolatiers temper their chocolate to sell Mendiants.  The reason being, they last so much longer and are prettier.

As I’m just making them at home with the idea of eating them quickly over the next few days, I honestly haven’t needed to.  Melt the chocolate in a Bain-Marie (in a glass bowl over simmering water) and spoon out on to a baking sheet.  As the chocolate takes a good 30 minutes to set, you have enough time to enjoy topping them.

As you can see, it’s not even a recipe: just melt good quality chocolate and plonk on the dried fruits and (toasted) nuts of your choice!  Et voilà !

Join me on Instagram for a Daily Dose of French Life

I have just posted my first Reel.  Jings – that wasn’t as easy as I thought. It’s amazing how much time all these things take and I’m not even sure you’re seeing them!  So, if you’d like to follow me for a dose of daily French life, please do join me on Instagram.

It’s where I post shots from in and around Paris (at the moment it’s more outside Paris due to lockdown, as I live next to Saint Germain-en-Laye between Paris and Versailles), food snippets of recipes or the market – or just some fun stuff!

See my Instagram Reel Video on how to make them HERE.

french chocolate mendiants easy recipe

French Chocolate Mendiants

PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Setting Time: 30 minutes

200g dark chocolate (64% cocoa solids, minimum)
Candied orange peel, cut into cubes
Raisins or dried cranberries*
Hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, almonds or pine nuts (plain or toasted)

  1. Line a perfectly flat baking sheet with baking paper (or silicone mat).
  2. Break up the chocolate in a bowl and place over a pan of simmering water over a gentle heat (bain-marie) until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Using a dessertspoon, spoon the melted chocolate onto the baking paper, pressing each one down with the back of the spoon to make a circle.
  4. Gradually decorate with the fruit and nuts using different colours and textures for toppings. Don’t worry about the chocolate hardening; you will have enough time to enjoy dressing each disk before it hardens.
  5. Leave to cool for about 30 minutes. When set, remove each mendiant carefully from the sheet with your fingers or a palette knife.

* To knock them into Adult mode for that extra je ne sais quoi, soak them in Kirsch, Chambord, Armagnac, Frangelico or any of your favourite liqueurs.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (if you can wait that long!)

french chocolate mendiants hats

 

Here I topped chocolate macarons with French chocolate mendiants for an Easter bonnet look.

You could do the same by decorating cupcakes, brownies, muffins, chocolate mousse, etc. with your own personal French chocolate mendiant touch, or just devour them on their own.

5 from 1 vote
French Chocolate Mendiants (disks with fruit and nuts)
Prep Time
30 mins
Setting Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

French mendiants, chocolate disks traditionally topped with dried fruits and nuts, resembling the 4 monastic robes from the Middle Ages, seen in chocolate shops around France

Course: confiserie, Snack
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6 people
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 200 g (7oz) bittersweet chocolate (at least 64% cacao)
  • handful each golden sultanas &/or raisins
  • dried cranberries or goji berries
  • toasted flaked almonds, almonds or pine nuts
  • pistachio nuts
  • candied orange peel (optional)
Instructions
  1. Line a perfectly flat baking sheet with baking paper (or silicone mat - even better, a macaron mat will set them perfectly into round shapes).

  2. Break up the chocolate in a glass bowl and place over a pan of simmering water over a gentle heat (bain-marie) until the chocolate has melted.

  3. Using a spoon, pour the melted chocolate onto the baking paper, pressing each one down with the back of the spoon to make a circle (don't worry if they are a bit messy - it will set well later!)

  4. Gradually decorate with the fruit and nuts using different colours and textures for toppings. Don’t worry about the chocolate hardening; you will have enough time to enjoy dressing each disk before it hardens.

  5. Leave to cool for about 30 minutes. When set, remove each mendiant carefully from the sheet with your fingers or a palette knife.

Recipe Notes

* To knock them into Adult mode for that extra je ne sais quoi, soak them in Kirsch, Chambord, Armagnac, Frangelico or any of your favourite liqueurs.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (if you can wait that long!)

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Rhubarb Hibiscus Compote – How to Make Green Rhubarb Red

Not sure what to make with rhubarb? Make this healthy rhubarb compote! It freezes well and is perfect for a vegan breakfast or spooned on ice cream. I also have a clever, delicious trick to make green rhubarb red.

A ginger version of this rhubarb hibiscus compote recipe was first published on 27 April 2016 but I’ve now updated it to include a printable recipe card and video: What is Compote and How to Make a Healthy Rhubarb Compote.

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rhubarb hibsicus compote

What is Compote?

Fruit compote goes back to medieval Europe when a mix of puréed fruits was both healthy and cheap to make.

Today, I feel that the humble compote is so underrated: it’s low in sugar, a fruity accompaniment to loads of desserts and it’s a healthy (and vegan) way to start the day, spooned on granola or yoghurt.

Green vs Red Rhubarb

I’m always excited during French rhubarb season and love making rhubarb compote. It reminds me of all the lovely pink rhubarb we had in Scotland (ever since I was little until I left when I was 22), especially when it found its way into comforting fruit crumbles with a cheeky hint of stem ginger. We had the forced, lovely pink rhubarb in winter, followed by the still pinkish rhubarb in Spring to Summer.

However, in France we have to wait until rhubarb season between April and June.  I’m always a bit disappointed; somehow the rhubarb we find in Parisian markets is always so GREEN!

How to make Green Rhubarb Red

My answer to make green rhubarb red? Infuse hibiscus tea or Carcadet into your rhubarb – the best way is to make a rhubarb syrup by macerating in sugar first. Either use dried hibiscus flowers or hibiscus teabag infusions.

Teabags come in so many choices these days – many in the form of detox infusions, usually with the addition of rose or rosehip and berries.  It’s a perfect flavour match with rhubarb!

Now on video:

How to Prepare Rhubarb with a Versatile Fruit Compote Recipe (3 minutes)

rhubarb hibiscus

Healthy Fruit Compote – it’s Vegan Too!

The beauty with compote is that it’s versatile and vegan, too.

Try the same recipe using summer berries. It’s a great, healthy alternative to jam using just a quarter ratio of sugar to fruit.  It can keep well in the fridge, sealed in jam jars, for up to a week.

Can I Freeze Compote?

The answer is a YES! Compote freezes well too.

Freezing compote is perfect for that luxury winter moment when you need a dose of rhubarb or berries with that extra touch of hibiscus and rose.

What is Compote Used For?

We love rhubarb compote served chilled – from breakfast, to teatime, to desserts. Here are some ideas how best to serve your compote:

rhubarb rose crumbles

Rhubarb and Ginger Compote

Not fancy making the compote with the tea? Then it’s even easier!  Forget the tea part and just add some candied ginger to the compote – the combination is so fabulous. It reminds me of when I grew up in Scotland, when we always paired ginger with rhubarb.

 

green rhubarb hibiscus compote

Rhubarb Compote with Fruity Hibiscus Tea

5 from 13 votes
Rhubarb Hibiscus Compote
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Macerating time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 40 mins
 

Rhubarb Compote with Hibiscus tea, naturally colouring green rhubarb pink and infusing a delicious rose and cranberry-like flavour to it. So healthy, compote only uses a quarter of sugar, so far healthier than jam. Can keep in the fridge up to a week and freezes very well.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Condiments, Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Keyword: fruit compote, hibiscus tea recipes, how to prepare rhubarb, Rhubarb compote,, rhubarb hibiscus
Servings: 6
Calories: 109 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 400 g (14oz) Rhubarb about 4 medium sticks
  • 100 g (3.5oz) Sugar (sugar ratio is 1/4 to rhubarb weight)
  • 1 tbsp dried hibiscus flowers (Carcardet) or 2 hibiscus teabags
  • strawberries (optional)
Instructions
  1. Wash and cut the rhubarb at both ends and discard the inedible leaves (these are toxic). Weigh your rhubarb in order to calculate how much sugar to use: the ratio is a quarter of sugar to fruit (unlike jam, compote is so much healthier!)

  2. Cut into chunks about 3cm and place in a bowl with the sugar.  Leave to stand for 2-3 hours (or overnight).

  3. Sieve off the rhubarb juices into a saucepan.  Add the tea and bring to the boil. Reduce the liquid slightly for about 10 minutes, remove the tea then add the rhubarb.

  4. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a gentle heat for about 15 minutes until the fruit is soft and collapses into a purée. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Refrigerate until needed.

Recipe Notes

Delicious served on top of homemade breakfast granola for a healthy vegan breakfast or spooned over vanilla ice cream for dessert.  

This recipe is also perfect made with soft summer berries. Again, the ratio is a quarter of sugar to fruit. For a complete demonstration of the recipe and variations, see my VIDEO HERE.

Refrigerate and keep in the fridge in sealed jam jars for up to a week.  This compote also freezes so well - perfect for a dose of rhubarb in the winter months.

Don't want the tea? Add candied ginger to this compote - the combination is fabulous!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

Have you ever tried a savoury Clafoutis with vegetables?  The French Clafoutis is best known as the classic cherry baked custard dessert but when spring pokes its head out in France, I urge you to make this savoury green Asparagus Clafoutis.

It’s delicate. It’s divine. Served in a pool of the creamiest parmesan sauce, you’ll want to dive in with a crusty baguette to mop up every insy winsy bit of it.

Now on Video: How to cook Asparagus with an interesting Savoury Clafoutis Recipe.

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Asparagus Clafoutis

Trying out a Savoury Twist to the Classic Clafoutis Dessert

We are totally mad about French Clafoutis every summer.

It’s such an easy custardy classic dark cherry dessert – and just as delicious made with fresh raspberries – or my latest addictive craze, a versatile gluten free version with strawberries, plums, or with apricots and lavender.

However, give a savoury clafoutis a try. It’s so light as a starter or appetizer or for a light lunch.

White Asparagus French Clafoutis

White Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe

You may recall I tried out this gorgeous large custardy version of a White Asparagus Clafoutis recipe inspired by Chef Eric Frechon from the Bristol in Paris. It’s served in one big dish and I added lemon to it, as the association with parmesan and white asparagus is a match in heaven.

Then I made individual versions of them, serving them out of muffin moulds.

Lemon Asparagus Clafoutis

Asparagus Clafoutis

Green Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

Not everyone, surprisingly, seems to be in love with white asparagus, as I’ve discovered via your comments social media.

Instead, the printable recipe below is for a green asparagus clafoutis – without the lemon but served with the most silky, creamy parmesan sauce that you can mop up with a crusty baguette.

The addition of a parmesan sauce with an asparagus clafoutis just takes it to another level! It’s so good, you may decide to double the quantity!

Asparagus & Parmesan Inspiration in Paris

This time last year, I was kindly invited to take part in a pilot run for Parisian cookery classes with Chef Philippe Excoffier in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, where I wrote up an 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

Asparagus with Parmesan Sauce: A Marriage in Heaven!

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 (the French even have use the verb, ‘saucer’ to wipe the end of the sauce with the bread – it’s that good!).

Asparagus Clafoutis

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

 

Asparagus Clafoutis with parmesan sauce

 

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this asparagus clafoutis recipe?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and let me know you’ve made it via Instagram and Facebook. Enjoy the recipe!

French Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

5 from 13 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 lunch. Serve with a crusty baguette to mop up the most silky creamy parmesan sauce. The sauce quantity is good for individual portions but if making this as one big family size, I'd double the sauce quantity.

Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Light Lunch, Starter, Supper
Cuisine: French
Keyword: asparagus recipes, french asparagus recipe, savoury clafoutis recipe
Calories: 395 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb) fresh asparagus (2 bunches)
  • 3 eggs organic
  • 2 egg yolks organic
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) all-purpose flour (or 1/2 tbsp cornflour to make this gluten-free)
  • 115 ml (4fl oz) half-fat single cream (I use 12% fat cream)
  • 55 g (2oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated (about 2/3 cup)
  • good pinch each salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Sauce
  • 55 g (2oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 140 ml (5 fl oz) half-fat single cream (1/4 pint)
  • 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 (or 6 muffin moulds) by greasing them well with softened butter. 
    Snap the asparagus spears about 1/4 off the bottom, where they break naturally. Peel or scrape 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 if they're more chunky). Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to the cold water to stop the cooking process. 

  4. Prepare the clafoutis batter: beat the eggs, yolks, grated parmesan, flour and season with salt and pepper.

  5. Drain the asparagus, setting aside a spear top per person for the decor and one spear top each for the clafoutis. Place the rest of the asparagus in a food processor and mix to a purée with some of the batter. 

  6. Stir in the puréed asparagus to the rest of the batter. Pour into the individual buttered ramekin dishes/muffin moulds, placing a spear top in each. Alternatively, pour into one buttered ovenproof dish, throwing in the rest of the spears. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes (35 mins for a large clafoutis).

  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes, then using a sharp knife, release the clafoutis from around the edges 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

Decorate with an asparagus spear, a basil top or edible flowers.  Also delicious with smoked salmon. Serve with a crusty French baguette.

I used 4 ramekin dishes but regular muffin moulds also work well, including briochette silicone moulds (makes 6 generous portions).

Wine Suggestions: Serve with a fruity white wine - such as a Voignier (Condrieu a real treat!), a dry Muscat or Riesling from Alsace, or Chenin from the Loire (Savennières).

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

French Asparagus Clafoutis

Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis – A Twist to the French Classic Cherry

Who said that a French Clafoutis should be made only with cherries? I adore Cherry Clafoutis and love making it with this  nutty gluten free recipe with ground almonds. It’s so versatile. When cherry season starts in France, strawberries appear too, vying for the limelight – so, let’s also celebrate the sweetest, shiny and seasonal strawberries with a Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis.

This post was first published on 31 May 2018 but is now updated to include a video and demonstrate the different versions of this clafoutis recipe using ground almonds (gluten free). See below for different fruity Clafoutis combination ideas.

Now on Video

Demonstration: How to make a versatile French Clafoutis
and its summer fruit variants

 

Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis

With some desserts, I’m fussy – especially with French Clafoutis, a speciality of the Limousin in France. In my honest opinion, a clafoutis is a light, set eggy custard that’s perfumed with fresh seasonal fruits (traditionally made with cherries – see this classic Cherry Clafoutis Recipe with a hint of almonds) and not a stick-to-the-top-of-your-mouth heavy cake-like dessert that can taste of too much flour.

I urge you to try this twist to the classic – and discover just how versatile it is with the best of France’s summer fruits.

pistachio-strawberry-tart

Strawberry Pistachio tartlets from ‘Teatime in Paris’

Strawberry and Pistachio Desserts

If you’ve been following the recipes on le blog, you’ll notice that strawberry and pistachio are one of my favourite flavour combinations.

Haven’t tried this combination yet?

Then do try this strawberry pistachio panna cotta (serve with pistachio macarons and it’s heaven!), or the strawberry and pistachio tartlet recipe from the tart chapter in ‘Teatime in Paris‘. I’m sure you’ll be concocting many more of your own twists with this combination in your recipes.

Strawberry pistachio clafoutis

Adding in some wild strawberries to fill in the gaps!

When Fresh Strawberries Wilt Make a Clafoutis!

The other day at the market in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, I simply got carried away.  Well, tell a Scot there’s a promotion or special price for 4 packs of sweet-smelling strawberries and I pounced on these Fraises de Charlotte like they’d go out of fashion tomorrow. Needless to say, the last couple of batches were just ever so slightly fatigué, so baking them at this ‘just becoming tired’ stage is perfect for making this Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis.

I do stress that you use FRESH strawberries if possible rather than frozen for this recipe, so that all the flavours are at their best.

strawberry pistachio clafoutis

Bubble, bubble, out of the oven

Pop in a Few Wild Strawberries

I still can’t believe that we’ve been blessed by the birds spreading a carpet of wild strawberries (fraises des bois) in the garden this year.  I thought that mint in the herb garden took over the other plants, but I’m now surprised to see the strawberries popping up in all nooks and crannies, as we say in Scotland.  They’re like tiny voilet-tasting bonbons.

strawberry pistachio clafoutis

Baking Strawberries Intensifies the Flavours

In this strawberry pistachio clafoutis, it’s the strawberries that dominate: baking strawberries in this way intensifies the flavours – it’s incredible! The pistachio is quite subtle but adds that extra intrigue to the fruit, plus helps to soak up the juices too.

Please note, that for all my recipes, I encourage you to weigh out your ingredients using a digital scale (find out why in this post), so that you have continued successful results each time you make this.

Don’t Have Pistachios? Make a Clafoutis with Ground Almonds!

If you don’t have pistachios, then use ground almonds instead.  This recipe is GLUTEN FREE.

French peonies from the market

Some pink peonies for you from the local market.

When the peonies arrive, it’s Clafoutis time!

Strawberry Clafoutis Dessert

Summer Fruit French Clafoutis Ideas

What we love about this recipe is that it’s so versatile. By replacing the fruit, this French Clafoutis ends up having its delicious variations all throughout the summer.

Here are some ideas using the same recipe batter (gluten free) using GROUND ALMONDS (almond flour) instead of pistachios:

If using the optional liqueur, then pick a fruity liqueur that matches the fruit used: e.g. Chambord liqueur with raspberries, Kirsch for cherries – although Kirsch is great with all fruits! For the amount of fruit used, my general rule of thumb is to lay just enough fruit in a single layer in the pie dish then just pour over the batter.

It’s as simple as that. Check out the video here.

Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis Recipe

Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Resting Time
10 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Strawberry Pistachio Clafoutis, a delicious twist to the classic cherry baked custard French recipe using fresh strawberries and ground pistachios (or almonds) to soak up the juices. Gluten free treat for breakfast, dessert or teatime.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French
Keyword: clafoutis, pistachio, strawberry, gluten-free,
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 273 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 275 g (10 oz) fresh strawberries washed, hulled & cut in 2 if big
  • 4 medium organic eggs (or 3 large eggs)
  • 1 organic egg yolk
  • 70 g (2.5oz) sugar + 1 tbsp for the dish
  • 170 g (6oz) single or pouring cream (I use half fat cream 12%)
  • 50 g (1.75oz) ground pistachios (or ground almonds)
  • 1/2 tbsp Amaretto or Kirsch liqueur (or other liqueur, depending on fruit chosen) (optional)
  • few drops almond extract (or vanilla powder/extract)
  • 15 g (0.5oz) butter for the dish
  • 1 tbsp almond slivers (optional, for topping)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/ 200°C / 400°F (gas 6).

  2. Butter a gratin or pie dish and top with about a tablespoon of sugar, shaking the dish to spread it evenly.  Lay the strawberries over the surface in one layer.

  3. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk, sugar, cream, ground pistachios (or almonds) and extract, if using.

  4. Pour this egg mixture over the strawberries and if using, sprinkle over some slivered almonds.

    Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked in the middle (it shouldn't sink in the middle). I'd suggest placing the dish on a baking tray to catch any sticky juices that could run out, if too full.

  5. Set aside to cool and either serve at room temperature or chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

This recipe is just as good using ground almonds (almond flour) instead of pistachios. Serve warm or chilled for breakfast, teatime or for dessert.

Dessert matching wines with strawberries: this is great with a light fruity red such as a Pinot Noir (from Alsace or a Burgundy), or a gamay Beaujolais Cru as it brings out the fruitiness yet light enough not to overpower the dessert. Otherwise a chilled rosé Champagne or New World fizz.

Variations using the same recipe batter (gluten free) with ground almonds:

Recipe now demonstrated on Video.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

French Clafoutis fruit variations

 

 

 

Fresh Broccoli Hummus (Vegan)

You didn’t think I’d be posting a recipe for Broccoli Hummus? You probably expect just sweet treats here but I do adore savoury (big time!) too. In fact, I’m sure this would be fabulous as a filling in my mini herb macarons (recipe in my book, ‘Mad About Macarons’).

Moreover, when something is as easy to make and deliciously healthy too, I feel it’s my duty to shout it from the rooftops and say:

“Please eat broccoli this way!”

Broccoli-Hummus

This broccoli hummus is made in just 15 minutes.

Have I convinced you yet?

Freshly Homemade Hummus: Tinned vs Dried

I love making my own hummus with the traditional chickpeas. It’s so quick and easy – BUT I have to remember to soak the dried chickpeas the night before.  Tinned or jarred chickpeas just don’t produce the same delicious creamy result. Apologies – I don’t want to be a kill-joy but it’s true.

Try it for yourself and see. We’ve tested so many versions at home that soaked dried chickpeas won without any doubt over the tinned, quick version.  See the recipe picked up from my French friends with the twangy accents from the south with their creamy Poichichade Recipe (as in pois chiches converted like olive tapenade, anchoiade …).

When the sun shines, there’s nothing quite like spreading on some creamy hummus spread on crackers or crusty bread for an apéritif in France, served with a chilled glass of wine with friends and family.

Broccoli Humous

Quick & Easy Fresh Broccoli Hummus

Antoine came back with 3 huge heads of fresh broccoli the other day – “Enough to last us for 3 weeks”. I don’t know about you but fresh, vibrant broccoli doesn’t last that long and so it needs to be used up pretty quickly. We love broccoli but this was clearly needing some improvisation, as serving broccoli as a side every night for a week was not going to hack it with the girls – or Antoine, even if he bought them!

I first discovered that replacing cauliflower with broccoli in this velvety Crème Dubarry soup is exquisite;
Antoine thinks it’s even better with broccoli, convinced there’s cheese in it when there isn’t.
I love playing food games – do you?

Broccoli Hummus – the Recipe (Vegan, Dairy-free, Gluten-free)

I discovered this wee recipe in a French magazine (last October’s Gourmand).  It caught my eye, as it had simple ingredients. The broccoli was only cooked al dente for 5 minutes, retaining its vibrant colour and flavour and then whizzed together with a lemon zest/juice, parsley, tahini, garlic and oil.

The recipe asked for some pistachio oil (so if you have some, add a tablespoon) but instead of a neutral oil to accompany it, I used olive oil and added some sesame seeds.

THAT’S IT ! So, thanks to Antoine for doing the grocery shopping. I love it when we’re presented with delicious challenges like this, don’t you?

As you can see from the ingredients, this recipe just happens to be not just vegetarian but it’s also VEGAN, DAIRY-FREE, GLUTEN FREE (as long as you serve it with GF munchies) and sugar-free.

How to Serve Broccoli Hummus

Serve this broccoli hummus as a dip with crusty French bread, crackers, toasted pita bread, tortilla chips, potato chips, potato wedges or oatcakes.
(I love this gluten-free all oatmeal oatcake recipe from Christina’s Cucina).

Leftovers? Toss Broccoli Hummus in Pasta

Ensure that any leftovers are sealed tight in a jam jar and covered with a little olive oil to retain its freshness.

It’s so incredibly tasty that I even tossed it in pasta with some of the leftovers. Just add a little extra olive oil and a little of the pasta water.

Green Vegetable Hummus

Don’t have fresh broccoli?

Then frozen would work so well with this recipe too. I’ll leave you to tell me in the comments below if you find a good alternative if you don’t have fresh broccoli. It’s all part of the most delicious, creative challenges in the kitchen!

 

broccoli hummus recipe

Broccoli Hummus Recipe (Vegan)

4.86 from 7 votes
Broccoli Hummus Recipe
Broccoli Hummus
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

A quick and easy healthy spread replacing the traditional chickpeas with broccoli. Just so happens to be vegan, dairy free and gluten free.

Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: broccoli, hummous, hummus,
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 114 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 250 g (9oz) broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest & juice
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) olive oil (or 5 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp tahini (or almond/pistachio butter)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional), for decor
Instructions
  1. Cut the broccoli into florets and cook in salted boiling water for just 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or sieve and place in a mixer or food processor.

  2. Add to the mixer all the other ingredients: lemon zest and juice, the tahini (or other nut butter), parsley, salt and pepper. Gradually add the oil while blending the lot in the mixer.

  3. Transfer to a serving dish. Top with sesame seeds (if using), dribble on some extra olive oil and garnish with extra parsley.

Recipe Notes

Serve with crusty bread, oatcakes or crackers (for those following a gluten-free diet, serve with your favourite gluten-free bread, crackers or oatcakes.)

This broccoli hummus is also excellent as a pasta sauce - just add a little more olive oil and a little of the pasta cooking water.

Can keep for up to 5 days if stored in a sealed jar and topped with olive oil in the fridge. 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com