After looking through recipes for easy dishes to serve out-of-town company, I have planned an uncomplicated menu that will give me plenty of time for catching up.
A white bean soup with kale and chorizo, an all-in-one main course that can be prepared a day ahead, will anchor the meal, and will be accompanied by an arugula salad and a basket of warm bread. For dessert I have decided to make an old favorite - a plum clafoutis.
Clafoutis is one of the simplest yet most delicious French desserts a home cook can prepare. A specialty of the Limousin, an area in south central France, it is traditionally prepared with cherries, which are covered with a rich pancake-style batter, then baked. Several years ago, I began replacing the cherries with sliced plums and loved the results. Each time I make my plum version, I change the recipe slightly. This time, for example, my clafoutis will be served with dollops of creme fraiche instead of the usual vanilla ice cream, and the batter will be scented with cardamom and orange zest.
You can serve a clafoutis warm or at room temperature, and although most cooks opt to use this special confection as a dessert, I wouldn't hesitate to include it at a brunch.
Betty Rosbottom writes for Tribune Media Services.
PLUM CLAFOUTIS WITH CREME FRAICHE
4 large red plums (about 1- 1/4 pounds)
4 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar (divided use)
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the baking pan
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
3/4 cup creme fraiche, for garnish
6 mint sprigs for garnish
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Arrange one rack at lower position and another at center position and preheat over to 350 degrees. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
Halve, then pit plums. Slice each half into 1/2 - to 3/4 -inch thick wedges and arrange the wedges in a single layer to cover the bottom of the baking pan. (You may not need to use all of the plums.) Sprinkle 4 teaspoons of the sugar over the plums.
Place eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk well to blend. Whisk in the remaining sugar, then the melted butter and the milk. Sift the flour, cardamom and salt over the batter and whisk in these dry ingredients. There should be no lumps in the batter; strain through a sieve if necessary. Stir the orange peel into the batter.
Pour batter over the plums and place baking dish in oven. Bake until batter puffs up and rises slightly above the sides of the pan and is set in the center, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove and cool 5 to 10 minutes; the clafoutis will deflate as it cools.
Cut clafoutis into 6 wedges and place on dessert plates. Place creme fraiche in a small bowl and whisk gently. Top each serving with a dollop of creme fraiche and a mint sprig. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.
Per serving: 335 calories, 8 grams protein, 19 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 178 milligrams cholesterol, 104 milligrams sodium
Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.