My involuntary memory transported me across the world partly because of the break-of-day crispness and humidity, but more conspicuously because of the slender waft of cigarette smoke that came from my next door neighbor who was starting his morning right on his balcony. Oh Paris… smoking…hot and cool air in the summer mornings!
Paris used to and still does, despite the (still recent) restaurant smoking ban, carry with it that second hand smoke aroma that I journeyed with this morning. So I thought I’d tell you the truth. While smoking has never been my thing, I have lived with or among smokers for the first 21 years of my life. And that makes me a nearly recreational second hand smoker.
It never bothered me the way it does some and I’ve never fretted much about the well publicized risks of second hand smoking. Don’t get me wrong- I am not into the ashtray smell, the attempted Glade-covered cigarette smoke in a stuffy living room, or the stink of my non-smoker hair after 20 minutes in a smoking bar. If you thought of that, you missed the point.
For me, the smell of smoke coming from next door or on the street behind a passerby or on a patio where smoking is not banned is simply a familiar trigger to happy days behind me, some of them in Paris.
It is only fitting to speak of Paris today – July 14- Bastille Day!!! I so wish I was there or at least at the Chez Panisse Garlic Fest! honor this holiday, I thought we’d go with a French summer classic dessert- Cherry Clafouti!
Cherry Clafoutis with White Wine Poached Cherries, a recipe adapted from the Kitchen
Cherries poached in white wine
Ingredients: 1 lb cherries pitted, halved, 1 lemon 1/2 inch slices, 1 orange 1/2 inch slices, 2 cups white table wine, 3/4 cup sugar.
Toss cherries in sugar let set to macerate for 10 – 15 minutes in a pot. Add wine, sliced lemons and oranges. Cook cherries until slightly soft [ about 4 minutes] then strain mixture, return the liquid to stove top, pick the oranges and lemons out of the cherries and place back in the liquid. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half. When reduced by half strain the liquid back over the cherries and leave to cool. They can then be stored in the fridge, for a week or 2.
Jen says these taste like sangria and I say they are delicious on the clafouti or your ice cream and many other treats!
Ingredients: 3 1/2 oz whole milk, 5 oz heavy cream, 2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla, 4 eggs, 4 1/2 oz sugar, 1 oz flour; butter for greasing baking dish, 1 tablespoon sugar for lining dish, 1 cup of pitted cherries
Place milk, cream, vanilla, eggs, sugar, and flourin a mixer and bring together. Cover the mixture in a bowl and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Stir the batter well before using.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
You need an ovenproof dish that is large enough to hold the cherries and the batter leaving some room to the rim.
Rub the inside with butter then put in the sugar and shake the bowl around you are trying to coat the dish with a sugar, butter layer.
Place the cherries over the bottom of the dish, then pour over you batter it should come about 3/4 of the way up the sides. Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes.
You should not be able to see any raw batter when it is ready, you could always just look in the middle with a knife- the middle will still be soft and the rims will be browned.
When it is ready remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes, dust with sugar (not necessary) and serve with whipped cream (like the French would) or ice cream (like the Americans would). Add poached cherries.
Vive la France!
Photography by Jennifer Olson.