Last summer I found a recipe for a tomato clafouti. I’ve been making fruit clafouti for years. They’re somewhere between a cake and a soufflé and a pudding – creamy but also with a little structure like a cake but with a lightness like a soufflé. It’s a slightly sweet back drop for fresh fruit that gets baked into a yummy combination. The French classic is made with cherries. I’ve made it mostly in the fall with apples or pear and with peaches in the summer. The only “bad” thing about it is that you really need to eat it soon after making it. It’s not something that holds up well for eating the next day. The texture just isn’t quite right for that.
When I saw the recipe last summer, I felt a little strange for not thinking a clafouti could be savory. I really loved the colorful look of those varied cherry tomatoes floating in a cake flavored with thyme and cheese. It was great and I rolled it out for friends when I knew there would be enough of us to finish it off.
I had some beautiful tomatoes from the farm CSA and some I picked up at the Saturday market. I was thinking about that clafouti. Like a lot of recipes, I keep it saved to my computer so I don’t really have to think about the measurements of the “cake” part. It saves my energy for creativity for fillings if I don’t have to think about the base.
I had two small ears of corn and a handful of shishito peppers in the veggie drawer. Shishito peppers are fun because most of them are pretty mild but then every once in a while you get one that will shake you in your shocks. I figured I’d play pepper roulette rather than using a jalapeno that was also sitting in the drawer since the mellow shishitos are a nice pepper flavor and thin skinned enough to become tender in the time a clafouti takes to bake. I grabbed a couple, and like a jalapeno, took out the seeds and veins even though it was unlikely to be a problem. Just to be safe… I didn’t taste any assuming I’d prefer to be surprised if I had a hot one. I sliced them super thin and set them aside.
I took corn off of one of the ears. They weren’t super large, but it was enough kernels to cover the bottom of my greased pie dish so I figured that would be enough. If I was to do it again, I might lightly sauté the corn to give it a head start on cooking since the clafouti baking time is short, but the bit of rawness in the final product did not bother me.
I have thyme growing in pots in my yard but I also had lots of lovely oregano nearby. I decided since I was leaning toward Mexico or Italy flavors with my corn and peppers that I would broaden the herb base to be both thyme and oregano. I stripped the herbs off the stems and chopped the oregano into small pieces. The thyme leaves are already so small so I put them in the bowl that I would next mix the cake base so they’d just get incorporated and distribute relatively evenly in the final product. The oregano and shishito shreds went into the pan on top of the corn. I then nestled in the cherry tomatoes working to try to get all colors into all parts of the pan. Without measuring, I just topped the mixture with a cheddar cheese blend over the top until I felt I had enough. I cook visually a lot of the time and it just looked right to me.
The custard is a quick mixture of eggs, flour, heavy cream, whole milk, salt, pepper, and the herbs. You can see the recipe at my first post, here, but it’s pretty easy to remember.
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 c. whole milk
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 1/4 c. flour
- herbs (thyme)
- salt and pepper (about 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t. pepper)
Once mixed, it just goes over the vegetable mixture. Into the oven and very quickly you have this lovely poofed up cake/soufflé-like end product. I ate a big piece immediately. The tomatoes are hot and juicy and pop in very satisfying ways as you eat it (though be careful or you’ll burn your mouth!). It was so good, I ate two pieces. The corn and peppers and the oregano added a little complexity to the plain tomato/batter combination of the original, but because I practiced some restraint on the amounts (only one ear of corn, only a few shishitos), it was still a delicate thing. A light delight.
I didn’t have people over so I was faced with the leftovers. I did eat a piece for lunch one day and the final piece for breakfast a few days later. I will say that with the additional vegetables, it did reheat a bit better, but it’s still not great. I would make this combination again, but I would make sure to have some friends to help me finish it off.