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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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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 hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks so much for popping in!

Pure Vegetable Soup

Why have I hesitated to share this Pure Vegetable Soup? It’s pure and simple fresh vegetable genius; chunky, healthy and low in calories.

Moreover, this isn’t a recipe I’ve developed myself.  Apart from a few different vegetables, there’s no need to change anything from Raymond Blanc’s original recipe in my favourite cookbook, “Mange“. When I first received a signed copy of it as an Engagement present in 1996, I was terrified: the French gourmet recipes for guests all looked complicated.  Surely it was too difficult for me to try. However, years later, I realised with a little, insy-winsy bit of confidence, they were much easier than they looked.

Pure Vegetable Soup

Chunky Pure Vegetable Soup

These days, I normally blend soups to a smooth velouté or chowder consistency (see pumpkin & leek, mushroom cappuccino, smoked garlic and arugula (rocket)curried cauliflower with scallops, or sweetcorn and red pepper soups, for example), so that serving this chunky almost seems daring.
Is this life in the fast lane, darlings?

I served this to my French (Corsican) parents-in-law last week, as they’re total soup addicts like myself. Madeleine gave it a confirmed nod of approval, but she seemed surprised: they had soup with chunks in it growing up in Corsica. You know what? Me too!  I remember the chunky Scotch Broth (Janice has a good recipe at Farmersgirl Kitchen) with lamb and good old Lentil Soup (Christina has another good recipe with barley at Christina’s Cucina) with a large ham shank, when I was growing up in Scotland.

Somehow, going back to the “bits in it” is somehow satisfying and, while not a thick, hearty soup, the freshness of the herbs makes this a welcome starter at only 55 calories a bowl.  That’s before we add ripped off hunks of crispy French baguettes and lightly salted Normandy butter.

Pure Vegetable Soup

Fresh Vegetable Soup without the Stock

The secret to this recipe is the freshest of vegetables and respecting the short cooking time.  I know it’s tempting to use up these veggies at the bottom of the fridge that may be starting to wilt but please don’t! Honestly, if you use extra fresh, there’s no need for any vegetable or chicken stock – just the butter gives that added French touch and brings out the taste of the herbs, just thrown in at the end of cooking.  Chervil is best if you can find it, otherwise flat-leafed parsley is good.

5 from 2 votes
pure vegetable soup
Pure Vegetable Soup
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

A quick, chunky and healthy soup recipe that's perfect for any time of year, using the freshest seasonal vegetables and herbs

Course: Soup
Cuisine: British, French
Servings: 6
Calories: 55 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 20 g / 0.75oz Butter unsalted
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots finely sliced
  • 2 medium leeks outer leaves discarded, finely sliced
  • 1 small turnip (French navet) finely chopped into cubes
  • 2 ripe tomatoes chopped
  • 1 litre / 1.75 pints water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper according to taste
  • bunch fresh parsley or chervil roughly chopped (stalks removed)
Instructions
  1. In a large pan, gently melt the butter over a medium heat (don't allow it to brown). Sweat the peeled onion, carrots, and leeks gently for about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the water, the turnip, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, skimming off any impurities (foam) then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for up to 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened.  Add the tomatoes and chopped fresh herbs, cooking for another minute. 

Recipe Notes

Inspired by Raymond Blanc's Fresh Vegetable Soup with Chervil recipe in his book, Mange. If you prefer your soups smooth, then liquidise with a hand blender or food processor.

As I personally don't like celery, I have replaced one stalk of it with an extra leek - and adapt the vegetables according to season.  You could also use vegetable or chicken stock in place of the water but I find it's not necessary when using the fresh herbs.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Pure Vegetable Soup

Pure Vegetable Soup with chunks and the freshest of vegetables

Corsican Brocciu Lasagne

An easy version of the classic dish of Cannelloni au Brocciu, with a secret ingredient that makes all the difference.

Lebey 2017 Paris: New Gastronomic Sensations

This week I was thrilled to discover some incredible French gastronomic sensations at the Lebey 2017 in Paris. If you love your food and are willing to try new tastes, then this is for you.

It was a win-win: thanks to an invite from Il Gelato del Marchese, I was reunited with my favourite gourmet Italian ice cream, plus learn from 40 or so top French producers showing off their creations at the 4th annual afternoon of workshops as part of the Lebey 2017, the Oscars of French gastronomy.

Paris blossoms

Taking place in the sumptuous Pavilion Gabriel just off the Champs-Elysées near Place de la Concorde, it’s surprising just how a few steps away from the main route can lead you to a tranquil park to appreciate Paris in its full mid-April bloom of Springtime.

What is the Lebey?

For the past 30 years, the Lebey has been a reference Guide (in French) of the best restaurants and bistros in and around Paris – and more recently has included London and Belgium on its restaurant guide radar.

For the 4th consecutive year, Les Lebey de la Gastronomie 2017 are gourmet “oscar” awards given to the five best annual culinary creations, first voted by 1200 restaurants of the Lebey Guide, then selected by a group of critics at the influential École Ferrandi. Just to give you an idea of the prestige involved, chefs included Michaël Bartocetti (Shangri-La) with a frozen Corsican honey concoction with lemon and eucalyptus, and Beau Clugston from one of my favourite Parisian restaurants, Le 6 Paul Bert, featuring sweetbread with lobster! Winners were announced at the end of the workshops during the prestigious dinner laid on by chefs such as Eric Fréchon (le Bristol) and Claire Hetzler (Ladurée).

Meanwhile, I was a happy bunny making the most of the workshops in a short space of time, surrounded by the newly-sprouting candle flowers on the horse-chestnut trees!

Italian ice cream in Paris

I’ll leave you to read all about my tastings at Renato Squillante’s Il Gelato del Marchese in much more detail here, where I discovered how incredible parmesan ice cream could be – but also more savouries such as olive, artichoke & walnut, and mustard!  Here was just a selection of some of their luxury ice creams and fruity sorbets (you have to try the passion fruit, with the odd crrrrunch and perfect acidity). The Marchese’s Maîtres Glaciers produce ice creams and sorbets that are all certified vegan and made with top quality healthy ingredients using mineral water, unrefined sugar, and no colourings or preservatives are in sight.

French cheese tower Lebey 2017

As you can imagine, there were many producers featuring caviar, cured hams (charcuteries), red meats, butter, and fromage!  What’s a French gastronomic experience without cheese? This spectacular tower from La Ligue des Fromagers Extraordinaires incited feelings of asking Antoine to marry me again, just so we could have this as our wedding cake. We’d cut it saying Cheese! (OK, that was bad). I’m also Mad About Cheese.

Lebey 2017 tea cheese tasting

Looking at the list, I made for Comptoirs Richard, as it was teatime. For a coffee and tea company, I didn’t expect to see so much cheese here too! They were pairing them with organic herbal teas (Tisanes), something I remembered from my first experience with green tea by Théodor Paris – remember this post?

Lydia Gautier has created such associations for teas and cheese for the Comptoirs Richard, such as a fennel and liquorice-based infusion (Délicieuse Flânerie sur les Quais) with soft Sainte-Maure de Touraine Chèvre goat’s cheese. For cow’s milk, what about an 18-month matured Comté with an infusion of Lime Blossom, Camomile & Orange Flower (Sieste Royale aux Tuileries)? And who would have thought that ewe’s milk cheese such as Ossau Iraty would go so well with a spicy mix of cinnamon, ginger & cardamom (Nuit Folle à Montmartre)?

Miel-Honly Honey Cavist

At first glance, this looked like an enticing array of portable honeys in clever sachets for picnics. But what was astonishing speaking to founder Alain Coutant here, was that he’s not an apiculteur or beekeeper – he’s a “Caviste de Miels” for the newly created Honly. After a few mini tastings of diverse honeys with different textures (creamy smooth vs slightly grainy) and flavour combinations such as rose & honeysuckle; marzipan/pâte d’amandes; Lime or Linden blossom/Tilleul), this is honey from all around France for the serious, tasting terroir above all like one would appreciate a good wine.  As I taste one of the honeys, he asks if I get the “animal” element, as it was harvested near a bergerie. Nope. Baah, I still have some work to do.

Nishikidori Lebey 2017 paris

According to the Lebey 2017 list of producers, I thought this stand would be around pepper via Le Comptoir des Poivres. The Japanese line-up of bottles, however, was simply intriguing! I still have so much to learn about Japanese food and although haven’t yet been to Japan (it’s on our bucket list SOON!), I do know that I adore their fascinating culinary flavour associations. Thanks to Krystel from Nishikidôri, she helped kickstart my learning experience with tastings of the most sublime miso, starting with a Miso Dengaku, popular with grilled aubergines. I can just imagine this with a simply sliced Daikon radish salad.

She notices my eyes light up as I imagine how I can cook with the various vinegars and condiments with soya, smoked soya, yuzu, ponzu, hot pepper, bonito, seaweed – until she totally gets me at white miso with vanilla. I can envision it being transformed into … macarons! Pastry creams, too.

Their Paris shop opens soon..  (Update June 2017: They’ve now opened at 6 rue Villedo, 75001 Paris, Le Comptoir des Poivres). Just remember I’m first in that queue for the Vanilla white miso for making macarons – it has been a while since I’ve been so excited on a new incredible flavour!  (Have you tried the pistachio, green tea and wasabi macarons yet from Mad About Macarons?)

Montagny wines Burgundy Lebey 2017 Paris

You know me by now, I’m sure.  There were also many wine producers and this one caught my eye: Montagny Premier Cru from Millebuis. This small area of Bourgogne of the Côte Chalonnaise is not as well known as the big boys but isn’t it great to discover great quality wines that are super value for money?

Tasting the first of 3 white wines on show, Les Coères, it’s so mineral using Chardonnay vines in a chalky soil (only 34 hectares) and a bit up front acidic for me – ideal if you love oysters but the Vigne du Soleil was indeed full of sunshine, mellower and much easier to pair with food such as roasted chicken.  I fell in love with Les Chaniots. Although following the exact techniques for Les Coères, their older vines nearby are deeper and the difference in soil gives it a stunning long creamy aftertaste.  (Incidentally- have you visited the annual Burgundy Wine Festival of Saint Vincent?)

Speaking of creamy …

pistachio ice cream Il Gelato del Marchese

As it’s now Wine O’Clock in Paris, let me leave you with my absolute favourite of Italian pistachio ice creams from Il Gelato del Marchese. Next time you’re in Paris, you must pop into their luxury boutique on rue des Quatre Vents in the Saint Germain quarter – and now they’re at the Terrasse of the Hotel Marriott on the Champs-Elysées.