This month’s Kitchen Bootcamp challenge – Eggs and Breakfast – was one I was struggling a little with. I understood Jen’s choice (she’s 7 months pregnant and was looking for easy recipes to complete in the height of summer!) but many of the recipes were much heavier dishes than I usually eat on a summer morning for breakfast. Eggs in particular. Until I visited the magical Medieval village of Seguret, just a stone’s throw from our rental home in Sablet.
We visited in the middle of the day, when most of the streets of the village were empty. The couple of restaurants with outdoor patios were quietly full, with people enjoying cold glasses of rosé with lunch. We spent a while wandering the picturesque streets. It’s really like something out of a film.
Hungry, and not realising that we should have booked a table at one of the aforementioned outdoor patio restaurants (hadn’t realised that Seguret was so tiny), we remembered spotting a tea room on the ascent up through the cobblestone streets. We managed to find our way back to La Maison d’Eglantine – a tiny literally hole-in-the-wall place advertising, curiously a “Clafoutis de Ratatouille” which Cathy and I couldn’t resist. A savoury clafoutis? I needed to know more…
We squeezed our party of five into the tiny space and were rewarded with this view of *our* village – Sablet – from the window.
With only a couple of items on the menu (the clafoutis and a charcuterie platter, both served with a wonderfully fresh salad of haricots verts – French string beans) and a wonderful selection of cakes and pastries, it’s a nice option for those who don’t want a full-on meal (outside). It’s lovely and cool inside the thick stone-walled building too – respite from the heat. Meaning, that eggs – clafoutis – won’t be a problem to eat because it’s not that hot. Or at least it doesn’t feel like it in there!
The clafoutis came in a tiny wooden box, baked in parchment paper and served as an individual portion. It was really different to what I had been expecting – I was wondering if it might just be a crustless quiche, but it wasn’t. It really was a savoury custard – not sweet – studded with pieces of flavourful ratatouille and baked until crispy on top. A revelation!
Having been inspired by Kate Hill in Camont earlier in July when she made this peach clafoutis for us and by some experimenting at La Cuisine Paris during my recipe testing sessions, I set about making a non-cheesy yet flavourful custard… I remembered that Kate had added a tiny amount of cornmeal to her batter for the sweet clafoutis, so I figured that might be something to try with these. If nothing else, it woud produce a rich yellow colour. I’ll admit that I lucked out on my first go with this batter – it was perfect!
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- about a cup of your favourite ratatouille
- butter, for greasing the ramekins
- extra cornmeal, for dusting the ramekins
- Grease six 6oz ramekins and dust with the extra cornmeal. Set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F.
- Whisk together the milk, eggs, flour and cornmeal.
- Place about 3-4 tablespoons of the ratatouille in each ramekin.
- Pour the custard over the ratatouille, to about ¾ way full.
- Place ramekins on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, until puffy.
- Turn on the broiler to high for 3-5 minutes until the tops of the clafoutis are golden brown.
- Serve at room temperature, or just warmed through in a low oven (covered in foil).
For the ratatouille, I used Julia Child’s recipe, though I made sure to cube the vegetables a little smaller than she calls for, since the ramekins are quite small. I also didn’t cook it as long, leaving the veggies a little “al dente” as they are going to cook in the oven again anyway.
And the result?
For me, this was really successful. Tasted exactly like the one I had eaten in Séguret. The custard was firm and golden yellow. The vegetables were not too mushy. And despite having seen a number of recipes for savoury clafoutis calling for cheese, it totally didn’t need it. THEN it would be a boring crustless quiche, not an exotic sounding clafoutis de ratatouille! I am not sure how much Mr Neil enjoyed this as a late Sunday dinner (since, you know, there was no meat…) but it’s perfect for breakfast. Also easy to prepare first thing in the morning.
Kitchen Bootcamp is working through The New Best Recipe (from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated). Want to join us working through this fabulous book? Check out the Kitchen Bootcamp page here and buy The New Best Recipe on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.