I got up on Sunday morning wanting to bake with hazelnuts. I have got a large jar of hazelnuts and am eager to use them up before they go off. I flipped through a number of cook books desperately trying to find a good nut recipe but didn’t quite feel satisfied with anything. There was either pastry to make, billion of eggs or tons of butter to use. I had a clear idea of fruit, hazelnuts and yogurt.
Looking through My Favorite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell cherry clafoutis caught my eye and after reading the recipe carefully I decided that I can replace cherries with plums, almonds with hazelnuts and cream with yogurt.
First things first, I had to prepare the nuts. Step 1. blanching. Step 2. roasting for 10 minutes. Step 3. rolling in a tea towel to get rid of bitter skins. Step 4. grinding. And there you go – ground hazelnuts aka hazelnut flour.
I got some ridiculously cheap plums rescued from the supermarket’s shameful rack of things passed the sale by date. The plums were not even entirely ripe let along not suitable for retail. They would be in the skip the next day while absolutely fine to eat.
First step is to stone and cut the plums into chunks, melt 40g of butter till bubbly but not brown, add the plums, 100g of sugar, tsp of ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick and rind of 1 unwaxed lemon and let it cook for 10-15 minutes till the juices thicken.
Place 1/3 of the fruit at a bottom of a low round baking dish and save the rest of fruit and juice for serving. This is super delicious on its own or on porridge.
To make the batter you need to cream 2 egg yolks with 5 tbsp of sugar (Skye says 3 spoons but it was not sweet enough). Combine it with 75g of ground hazelnuts, 75g of sifted flour, 1 stick of ground vanilla. Beat the eggs whites with a pinch of salt and add it to the mixture carefully.
Pour the batter over the fruit and bake in 200 degrees Celsius for 20-30 minutes. Let it cool for few minutes and serve with the plum sauce.
I will definitely make the proper cherry version this summer.
Now to books. I haven’t read a lot this past week due to going out a lot. So I promise to make up this week. I am actually reading a number of books at the moment, I am wondering how I am even able to do it. I am still going through Chekhov’s stories as I don’t like to read them all at once, I read one story in between books. At the moment it’s Three Years, as everything by Anton it’s very good.
I am re-reading The Golden Age of Couture. Drooling over the beautiful pictures and soaking up all the details about making couture clothes. There is a fair bit about rationing as well and the transition from poor post war years in to the opulence of New Look. This leads to another book on rationing, Utility Furniture and Fashion, which describes the rationing years not only in furniture making but other areas too. This little book is my breakfast read.
I am also enjoying the very silly Fashion Babylon by Imogen Edward-Jones which can tell you one or two interesting things about the true face of the fashion industry. Last but not least is the gripping biography of the Marquess of Bath – Strictly Private – one of Britain’s biggest eccentrics is not afraid to say it all. I am now yearning to visit Longleat. Vogue has arrived as well and it is a very fat issue, M is out climbing tonight, I will be having a night in with my magazine.
Oh, and films. I have seen a couple of films.
Do you remember Dolly Bell? Emir Kusturica’s early film full of human drama, politics, love, suffering and generous dose of the usual music and animal antics.
A woman under the influence by John Cassavetes. Brilliant performance by Gena Rowlands (p.s. her early 70s dresses were to die for) portraying a housewife going through a nervous breakdown, her husband trying to keep the family together in a very dysfunctional manner and committing his wife to an institution. Her suffering is almost tangible, a woman so desperate to please her family she forgets about herself, having no creative outlet she focuses on being a housewife so much she becomes self destructive.
And there was also a bit of music, well kind of. It was experimental avant-garde hosted by Resonance FM in the depths of Hackney. It was interesting. The two first performers were good but the third was not so good, noises that were very unpleasant to the ear. We didn’t stay for the fourth performer. Good experience all together and a very nice cafe, if you are ever in Dalston you must visit. It’s called Cafe Oto. It serves cakes, snacks, Montmouth coffee and the whole place is furnished with vintage Ercol chairs and tables. I loved it.