I spent the better part of a day (and night!) doing a little heavy construction on the site in the hopes that future tweaks will be a bit easier. Some of the changes are evident. Some are more subtle. I welcome your feedback as I move through the process.
The term O.P.M. was something I had heard several years ago, referring to the preference of using it whenever possible: Other People’s Money. And may I just add here for the sake irony, that my bank in France is...
That’s right...Société Générale. Heard of it?! ‘Nuff said.
O.P.M. took on an entirely new meaning last night as I listened to a friend (who had lived in Aix before returning to the City By The Bay) describe her Provencal-themed menu planned for a group of friends later in the month. A bit of a gift, as I recall her saying, for some kindness extended to her at an earlier time. As she announced one course after another, I found that my bowl of black beans atop a precious corn tortilla topped with a couple of poached eggs was just not quite hitting the spot during my break from the construction project.
Given the work for those aforementioned site changes as well as a few projects on my desk that have been promoted from “pending” to “urgent,” I've decided today to use O.P.M. or Other People’s Menus.
This menu sounds like something for which I should be hopping a plane to San Francisco!
Inspired by Patricia Wells' The Provence Cookbook and At Home in Provence, the menu includes:
Hazelnut, Gruyère and Rosemary Biscuits (Biscuits au Fromage, Romarin et Noisettes)
Sautéed Almond-Stuffed Dates (Dates Fourrées aux Amandes)
Salad of Wild Mushrooms, Parmesan and Arugula ( Chanterelles, Pieds-de-Moutons et Roquette au Parmesan)
Leek, Potato and Truffle Soup (Potage Parmentier aux Truffes)
(I believe there is a Lamb tagine that shows up about here.)
The wine will be French, of course. I’m quite certain that the company will be charming. And the dinner...well, I just wish I could be there!
I'm still trying to figure out how to pull this menu off in my tiny, tiny apartment for a few friends, but in the meantime, I comforted myself with a bit of clafouti, taking my lead from this menu's dessert.
Sometimes spelled clafoutis, it’s not-quite-a-pancake, not-quite-a-custard, not-quite-a-flan and comes from the Occitan verb that translates “to fill up.” It's a country-French dessert, traditionally made with cherries (with the pits if you’re a purist!) There are as many versions of clafouti as there are fruits, I suppose. This one, from Mark Bittman of the New York Times (and I’ve already hinted at my cooking crush on him), is a great way to use a bountiful winter crop and reflect a little of the "clementine" light and color from the south of France while you’re at it!
Staying with last week’s citrus theme, clemetines are plentiful in the marché right now. These were from Corsica and untreated, at that! A bit of zest was a lovely addition.
Bring a taste of the sunshine of Provence into your winter and give this a try...unless you are one of the lucky ones invited to SdZ’s dinner in San Francisco. Then I suggest you be getting ready for that little extravaganza instead. (Chop! Chop! Don’t be late! You don’t want to miss a single bite!)
Time: About 1 hour
Butter as needed
1/2 cup flour, more for dusting pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
5 to 15 clementines, peeled and sectioned, about 3 cups
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a gratin dish, about 9-by-5-by-2 inches, or a 10-inch round deep pie plate or porcelain dish, by smearing it with butter, just a teaspoon or so. Dust it with flour, rotating pan so flour sticks to all the butter; invert dish to get rid of excess.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy.
Add granulated sugar and salt and whisk until combined.
Add cream and milk and whisk until smooth.
Add 1/2 cup flour and stir just to combine.
Layer clementine sections in dish; they should come just about to the top. Pour batter over fruit to as close to top of dish as you dare; you may have a little leftover batter, depending on size of your dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until clafoutis is nicely browned on top and a knife inserted into it comes out clean.
Sift some powdered sugar over it and serve warm or at room temperature.
Clafoutis does not keep; serve within a couple of hours of making it.
Makes at least 6 servings.