My husband gave me Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas in 2007. It was our first Christmas as a married couple. My enthusiasm for cooking had been steadily building for years, but that first Christmas together was when my dream of heading to culinary school was beginning to take shape.
The decision to go to culinary school was a huge step for me. I had a great job working for a place that I love. The culinary industry, despite time waiting tables during college, was a complete unknown. Cooking had become an obsession for me, but as I contemplated a huge career change, I wondered if I would like being in the kitchen as much when it became my work.
For that reason, my gift that Christmas was incredibly timely. Sure, it’s just a cookbook, but that Christmas it was an endorsement from the person that means the world to me of my crazy idea; a vote of confidence and a push that said “go for it.”
As we hammered out the details of my career change over our dining room table, we ate from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. No, I didn’t cook the book from cover to cover (don’t I wish I had that blog idea!), but I did fall in love with Julia’s passion for cooking. Julia guided me through my first coq au vin, she instructed me on the proper way to make homemade mayonnaise, and her recipes made butter a permanent staple in my fridge.
Julia was my first culinary teacher and the one that I still refer to on a regular basis. As I studied her techniques and tried her recipes, confidence in my endeavor also grew. I worried less about the consequences of going back to school. Like Julia, I had the unbelievable opportunity to immerse myself in the kitchen. And now, almost five years later, I like to think that, like Julia, I approached it with the same passion.
Julia’s cherry clafouti was the first dessert that I made from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In honor of what would be her 100th birthday (tomorrow – August 15th), I adapted it to feature one of my favorite combinations: peaches and almonds. To Julia, thank you! To you, my readers, bon appetit!
* In the picture above the almonds were a last minute addition (hence the lack of browning) added during the final thirty minutes of cooking on a whim. If you would like to add them (they are completely optional) then by all means add them at the beginning as instructed in the recipe below.
Peach and Almond Clafouti – Printer Friendly Recipe
Adapted from the recipe for Clafouti (Cherry Flan) in Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume One by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
3 medium ripe peaches (about 1 lb)
Butter, for greasing pie plate
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center of the oven. Generously grease a deep, 9-inch pie plate with butter.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Cut a small “x” in the blossom end (not the stem end) of each peach with a paring knife. Fill a large bowl with ice and water to make an ice water bath. Add the peaches to the boiling water and cook for about 30 seconds or until the skin around the x loosens and can be peeled back easily. Remove the peaches and place them in the ice water bath.
When cool enough to peel, remove the peaches from the ice water bath and peel off the skin from the peaches with your fingers. Discard the skin and pit the peach. Cut the peaches into ½-inch thick slices. Set aside.
Combine the eggs, whole milk, sugar, flour, almond extract and salt in a blender. Blend the ingredients until smooth. The batter may look too soupy – don’t worry.
Pour half of the batter into the greased pie plate and sprinkle about half the sliced peaches evenly over the batter. Pour the remaining batter into the pie plate and sprinkle the remaining peaches over the top. If desired, sprinkle the batter and peaches with sliced almonds.
Bake for one hour or until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool briefly before serving. Note: Don’t be alarmed when the clafouti deflates upon cooling. Serve warm and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.