Cherry time

It is cherry season and there seems to be an abundance of them in the market. I love the very sweet white Ranier cherries but they are always more expensive than the deep burgundy ones. These days they cherries are packed and shipped in plastic bags which seems environmentally unfriendly. Gone are the days when they were and shipped in wood boxes neatly packed in rows according to the size, and then placed in a paper bag when purchased. My mother always looked for 8 or 10 row bing cherries, the smaller the number the fewer in a row and the bigger the cherry. White cherries where unseen, except for those that were canned in heavy syrup.

I always get a small bag of white cherries as a treat but at $2.00 a pound I can't resist a large bag of deep red ones. What to do with all these cherries? Time to make clafoutis, that wonderful eggy French dessert that is also pretty good the next day for breakfast. It is really easy to whip up and the hardest part may be finding the right size and shape pan to use for it. An oval au gratin pan is best, but not having one I opted for a 9 inch pie plate and don't recommend it. It came right to the rim of pan and required enormous steadiness to get it in the oven without spilling. Basically, a 2 qt shallow casserole is called for.

The most demanding and fun part is preparing the cherries. I happen to have a little gadget that pits olives or cherries. Alternatively one could use a small knife to cut out the pit. An apron is called for to avoid cherry juice stains.

Preheat oven to 350 and butter the shallow casserole.

Pit about 2 cups of cherries, or enough to mostly cover the bottom of the casserole

In a food processor or blender or hand beater, beat together

3 eggs, preferably at room temperature

1 1/3 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup sugar - or less if you prefer

Add 1/2 cup flour and beat until blended

Pour batter over cherries

Bake for 45 minutes

It is attractive to sift some confectioners sugar on top, but not at all necessary

Makes 4 to 6 portions.

Cherry clafoutis is traditional but I am sure other fruits, cut up would also be delicious, especially peaches or nectarines.

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