A day or two earlier I had bought (for 1.09€) a beautiful cauliflower at SuperU — it is definitely cauliflower season now — and Walt and I had talked about how we wanted to prepare and eat it. It must have weighed a kilogram. I often make a gratin de chou-fleur with smoked-pork lardons when I have chou-fleur, and I had made one just a few weeks ago. Then we talked about making a cauliflower quiche. Suddenly I thought: what about a savory clafoutis with chou-fleur. No crust needed.
I steamed the head of cauliflower whole, along with the green leaves that the chou-fleur grows wrapped in — those are good to eat too. They're cabbage leaves, and I saved them for later. I thought it would be better to cook the cauliflower first, before cutting it up, because when you cut up a raw chou-fleur and the florets, they can crumble and you feel like you're being wasteful.
I did have to cut up the florets, because they were going to be too big to bake in a pie plate. They work for a gratin, because you can make that in a deep dish, but not for a clafoutis. So I steamed the cauliflower and let it cool before cutting it up. I arranged the pieces in a buttered baking pan.
I had a stray slice of jambon de Paris in the refrigerator, so I chopped that up and sprinkled the pieces over the chopped up chou-fleur. Then I looked up "clafoutis chou-fleur" on the internet, and of course I found a couple of recipes (here's one) immediately. Everything is on the 'net these days. I was looking for proportions for the custard I was going to pour over the cauliflower before it went into the oven.
So here are the ingredients and quantities that I decided on for the custard:
- 80 g de farine = ¾ cup of flour
- 20 cl de crème liquide entière = 7 fl. oz. of heavy cream
- 20 cl de lait = 7 fl. oz. of milk
- 4 œufs = 4 eggs
- 1 pincée de noix muscade = 1 pinch or grating of nutmeg
- Sel, poivre = salt and pepper to taste
- 100 g de fromage râpé = 3 or 4 oz. grated cheese
No sugar, right? This is a savory clafoutis. Salt, pepper, nutmeg, and melted cheese provide the flavor, not sugar.
Doing some reading, I thought about the origin of the term "custard" in English. It's actually a sort of "umbrella" term, and there are many different kinds of, and recipes for, custard. It's a term that is more used in the U.K. than in the U.S., I think. And in France, the equivalent term is probably crème, though that also means cream, the dairy product, of course. The word "custard" actually derives from the French word croustade, which means a "filled" crust, like a pie or tart. Tart crusts have been filled with creamy custards for at least a couple of thousand years, apparently. The eggy-creamy mixture used to make a quiche is a custard.
Anyway, pour on the liquid, sprinkle some extra grated cheese over the top, and bake the clafoutis in the oven at 350ºF (180ºC) for 30 minutes or so until the custard has "set up" and browned on top. There you have it. Enjoy hot, at room temperature, or cold. You could decide to make such a clafoutis with broccoli, too. Or spinach.