People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
09/19/2006 Chestnut and quince clafoutis (Clafoutis de châtaignes aux coings)
2 large ripe quinces (about 1.5 lbs.) 2/3 c. sugar Zest of 1/2 orange Juice of 1 orange 1 c. muscat Beaumes-de-Venise, corsican muscat, or other sweet muscat wine
1/2 c. chestnut flour 1/3 c. unbleached white flour 4 eggs separated 1/2 c. chestnut honey, or other flavorful dark honey 2 T. whole milk or cream pinch of salt 3 T. butter, melted 1 T. chestnut liqueur or cognac
1 c. cooked chestnuts (vacuum packed are fine), broken roughly
A bit of butter for the pan
Crème fraîche for garnish, optional
Peel, quarter, and core the quinces. Be careful as their cores are hard and woody and your knife can easily slip. Cut them into 1-inch chunks. Put the quinces in a medium heavy noncorrodible saucepan with sugar, threads of orange zest, juice, and wine. Cook gently until the quinces are tender and have turned amber pink. Drain, reserving the syrup. If it is very liquid, reduce over low flame.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 or 10-inch round nonstick cake pan. Beat the egg yolks with the honey until very pale and thick. Beat in the liqueur or cognac and the milk or cream. Sift together the flours over the yolk mixture gradually, folding in as you go. Rapidly fold in the melted butter. Beat the whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the yolk mixture, then carefully fold in the rest. Place the cooked quinces in the bottom of the cake pan. Scatter the broken chestnuts over them. Top with the batter, spreading gently. Bake for about 30 minutes, until firm and golden.
Serve warm, with a bit of the syrup poured over and dollops of crème fraîche if desired.
Note: Chestnut flour turns stale and rancid rapidly. Sniff before using to make sure yours is fresh; store unused portion tightly wrapped in refrigerator or freezer.