Behind the French Menu gives a tasty background to French cuisine, French dishes, how they are made and how they should be served.
Where there is a story behind a dish's creation and
that story may aid the diner's enjoyment then that will also be included. Bon appétit!
The original clafoutis was a traditional cherry
from the région of Limousin. from Behind the French Menu by Bryan Newman
A cherry clafoutis
Photograph courtesy of balise42
Clafoutis are pronounced
clafouti, the “s” is silent; and the classic clafoutis was made with, griottes,
sour cherries, that were cooked together in a crepe-like batter. Today cherry clafoutis may also be made with another ofFrance's wonderful cherries. N.B. Whether a clafoutis is a tart,
flan or a pie is disputed both by chefs and by restaurant menus; you may decide for yourself when your order your first clafoutis!
As the clafoutis
became popular in other parts of France, chefs added other fresh fruits when
cherries were not in season. Once a change has been made in a traditional
recipe and its popularity grows, the changes go on and on. Consider the TarteTatin, originally only made with the apples; now on many excellent restaurant
menus when made with pears, pineapples and other fruits. Apart from fruit Tatins French chefs
also make Tatins with vegetables as garnishes for main dishes.
not only on the menu with other fruits as desserts, a clafoutis may be
the starter, the French entrée, and then it can be made with cheese,
fish or ham. Other chefs will make clafoutis
with vegetables as a garnish to a main course, or a larger single serving of
a clafoutis with salmon or ham may be offered as the main course
for a light lunch. Depending on the ingredients clafoutis may be served
hot, warm or cold. For a single diner, outside of small family restaurants, a clafoutis
will usually be made in a single serving dish; a large clafoutis is usually
only seen when a whole table or a number of diners make the same order.
Clafoutis aux Courgettes,
a clafoutis with courgettes,
Photograph courtesy of papyraceous
The classic clafoutis recipe.
classic clafoutis recipe, even when far from home, and made with fruit
other than cherries, will still have all
the ingredients mixed in a crêpe-like batter and all will be cooked together; though
some cheeses, certain fish and cured ham will be added later.
All the ingredients for a clafoutis
Photograph courtesy of julesjulesjules m
The clafoutis on your menu.
– A clafoutis with cherries; the
courtesy of annalibera
aux Fruits de Saison – A clafoutis made with the season’s fresh
fruits. This may be strawberries and
other berries, plums, peaches, apricots, apples, pears and more.
serving of a clafoutis with plums
Photograph courtesy of Stijn Nieuwendijk
au Reblochon de Savoie et aux Quetsches- A clafoutis served
with France’s popular quetsche
plums along with France’s outstanding Reblochon AOP (AOC) cheese from the region of the Savoie, Savoy.
Reblochon cheese is a soft-centered cheese, soft like a camembert or
brie; however, its taste is different, reblochon has a mild, pleasant,
slightly nutty, taste. There is a whole
story about this famous cheese, and how it received its name; however as this
is a post about the clafoutis I shall have to leave that story for a
separate post. Enough to add that, in the Savoy, the reblochon AOC
cheese has its own famous recipe created just for it, called a tartiflette.
For a tartiflette a whole melting reblochon will be served over
boiled potatoes, sometimes with onions and crème fraiche, all usually
accompanied by lardons, smoked or fried bacon bits, local dried meats or
ham as the chef decides.
large pan tartiflette being prepared in the Savoie
courtesy of roboppy
The quetsche plum is a mauve to almost black plum that has a fragrant and sweet yellow flesh; it
is oval shaped with almost pointed ends; the quetsche’s nearest UK relation is the damson plum
which is not as sweet. The quetsche is also well known for its use in
one of France’s favorite plum brandies; so when you order a quetsche in
a restaurant be sure that your request is well understood. While the quetsche
is grown in the Savoie it is usually considered a fruit from the Alsace and Lorraine.
aux Tomates et aux Fromages de Chèvre – A clafoutis offered with
tomatoes and goat’s cheese; this will be a warmed, young, goat’s cheese that is
added just before serving.
aux Pommes, Servi Tiède et Glace au Calvados – A clafoutis made with apples and served
warm and glazed with Calvados. This sounds like the perfect Norman take
on a clafoutis; Normandy has many recipes made with its abundant apples,
and of course it is home to one of France’s two AOC ciders and the three
different types of, Calvados AOC, apple brandy.
de Saumon Salade Mêlée- A clafoutis made
with salmon and served with a mixed salad; salmon in France is almost always
the Atlantic salmon.
de Chèvre et Olives et sa Frisée aux Petits Lardons -A clafoutis
served with a warmed goat’s cheese and olives accompanied by a green salad.
Here the green salad is made with that curly leafed member of the lettuce
family or possibly the curly endive. In the salad offered are small lardons,
smoked or fried bacon pieces that are often used for flavor in French recipes.
guide books and French food translations will tell you that another traditional
dish from Limousin, called variously the flangnarde, flaugnarde or
flognarde is the original name for any clafoutis made with any fruit other
than cherries.. However, I was told by chef in a Limousin restaurant that the flangnarde he makes use a distinctly different batter, and was originally served without fruit. The
addition of fruit to a flangnarde is
relatively new, and so when I have the time I may do some fairly unnecessary
research, and travel to Limousin to check old menus; then I will know when
fruit was first added to a flangnarde. In any case with such a markedly
different batter, the original flangnarde is hardly a close relation of