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Happy-Gourmand

Forbidden pleasure

Have you ever had too much of a good thing?

You know, when you overindulged or expected too much and someone inevitably tells you that’s what you’ve had, like an I-told-you-so comment?

Well, this week, I was prepared to test that theory when our cherry tree announced it was ripe for the picking. If you saw the movie, Witches of Eastwick, back in 1987, perhaps you remember the scene with Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon and Cher (the witches) all eating cherries out of a gigantic bowl?

That scene and its ill effects came to mind, but I was willing to risk discomfort in order to enjoy a bit of decadence.

The first of the summer fruit always feels like forbidden pleasure. The fresh tangy zing of the juice on my tongue is like a wake-up call that officially brings the tide of summer.

Then, the thrill takes over and I just want more. I want to savour the taste of the sun as much as possible.

I think that's why I got into canning, as a way of bottling the fairy. Holding some of that freshness in a jar is a fine treat once the season has gone.

Eating fruit by the handful is wonderful, and it makes me understand how Winnie the Pooh felt with his hand in the honey pot — entranced by a mouthful of his favourite taste and overcome with the desire for more. 

"Is there any more?" he ask, even as he knew he wouldn't fit back out the door. 

But common sense tells me that pacing myself is a much wiser strategy, saving some for later. Over the years, I have made cherry jam, cherry pie, cherry ice cream, cherry juice and my favourite, clafoutis.

I made clafoutis for breakfast this week. It was delicious, warm out of the oven. Does that sound like too much?

It has milk, and eggs, and lots of fruit. How bad can that be? There is also cherry topping (for yogurt or ice cream or pancakes or...) and we have pitted cherries in the freezer and in the dehydrator.

I made gooseberry jelly too. I will make raspberry financiers to freeze this weekend, since those bushes are also groaning with ripe fruit.

I put cherries in my morning smoothie, I ate them by the handful. I even added some to a spinach salad with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese. They do say necessity is the mother of invention, and the need to use up a bountiful crop can make for beautiful inventions on the plate.

If we are lucky, there will still be some fruit in the fridge when the apricot tree joins the fray. Apricot mint chutney is one of my favourite preserves, but apricot cherry crumble and scones can make me go weak in the knees.

Then, it will be peaches next, and various plums and finally the pears and apples, not to mention all the vegetables we have to work with.

We ate our first lemon cucumber and cherry tomatoes out of the garden this week, and there are beets already peeking through the dirt.

It's a tough row to hoe, the responsibility of tending such a bountiful garden, but, well, someone has to do it.

And, hey, if you're not the gardening type, fear not. Between gardening friends who are likely over enthusiastic in their planting, as well as their harvesting, along with the proud local farmers and fruit-stand owners who are happy to share their wares, there is plenty to go around.

You hardly have to cook many of the summer ingredients to enjoy their freshness. To complete the circle of supporting local, grab yourself some B.C. wine or craft beer and toast to everyone's success.

In hopes of inspiring you, I'm sharing a new variation on my clafoutis recipe. Traditionally, this French country dessert is made with cherries, but you can use any stone fruit.

Bon Appetit!

CLAFOUTIS

  • 2 cups / 500 g cherries, pitted
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup / 85 g sugar — divided into 1/4 cup / 65 g and 4 tsp / 20 g
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup / 250 mL milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup / 85 g flour
  • 1/2 tsp / 3 g cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp / 3 mL vanilla extract
  • cinnamon sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 425 F/218C. Place fruit in a 9 x 13 inch/ 20 x 29 cm pan (an oval glass or ceramic pan will work just as well.) Dot the butter over top and sprinkle with the 4 tsp of sugar. Place pan in the oven so butter melts and sugar caramelizes.

Separate the eggs. Mix the milk and vanilla with the yolks, and beat the whites with the salt. Blend the flour, 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and add to milk mixture. Fold egg whites into the mixture just until blended.

Remove pan from oven and pour mixture over the hot fruit. Reduce oven to 400F/200C and bake for 15 minutes or until golden on top.

Dust with cinnamon sugar and put on a rack to cool slightly. Serve warm from the dish if desired, or turn out onto a serving plate and cut into wedges like a pie.

It’s good warmed up too, the next day.



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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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