I lived in a perpetual state of summer for most of my life – 24 years to be exact.
In the country where I was born, which is situated just slightly below the equator in South East Asia, temperatures range between 24 degrees to 34 degrees Celcius the entire year round.
My beloved Singapore is a tropical country with swaying palm trees and thick, almost-unbearable humidity, and its weather constantly swings between very hot and sunny and sticky, or hot and rainy and extremely humid.
Since we have no seasons – apart from the never-ending summer – the year somehow blends into one large chunk, with special holidays like Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Christmas and New Year’s sticking up like outliars in a Microsoft Excel line graph.
I never had summer holidays growing up – because it was literally summer all the time – and unlike my friends in the Western hemisphere, I never quite understood the fun of spending hours sun-tanning (I had sun in my face almost every single day, maybe except when it rained particularly hard during the year-end Monsoon season).
And then one day in April 2010, I packed my bags, uprooted myself from sunny Singapore, and moved across the globe to build a completely new life in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I remember that it was autumn when I’d arrived in the Argentine capital. The weather was still warm enough for me to wear a tank top and a short denim skirt in the afternoon, but the evening chill warranted a light cropped jacket at night. As we drove to Juan’s home from the Ministerio Pistarini airport, my eyes were glued to the trees along the sidewalk with their mix of yellow, auburn and brown leaves.
I recall this period as the autumn I re-located to South America for love.
Winter followed soon after, and its grey tones, early sunsets and constant chill made me want to huddle between thick blankets with a cup of hot tea next to me. I’ll be honest and tell you that winter is not my favorite season at all, and during winter months, I start missing Singapore and its hot, humid weather. Suffice to say, winter is also the period that I associate with warm vegetable soups, thick risottos, and plenty of baking as an excuse to fire up the oven and warm my tiny apartment.
Spring is probably my preferred season – and with it comes the blossoming of the jacaranda trees in all their lilac glory; Juan’s birthday followed by mine 13 days later; and increasingly long days as the sun begins to set later and later. There are also things that I look forward to in spring – such as the vibrant colors in the storefront windows, bright green asparagus, round blueberries and extremely cheap strawberries so ripe and red.
After almost five years in Argentina, I’ve learnt that it’s worth it to eat seasonally, when the stores are bursting with the season’s freshest and most abundant produce. And so, now that we’re in December, in the weeks just before summer bursts in, and the grocers are selling fresh orange peaches, juicy violet plums and dark red cherries that call out to me, I can’t help but grab some on the way home.
To me, these fruits are best eaten straight, their juices spilling all over as you bite into them. And yet, because they are so good and cheap at this time of the year, I also like to use them in baking, such as in this sensual cherry clafoutis recipe.
I find it incredulous that this recipe which tastes so good, comes together so easily and quickly.
But I suppose that as long as you use the best and freshest ingredients you can afford – in this case the best-tasting cherries you can find – it’s quite impossible for the recipe to go wrong.
This beautifully easy dessert is the sort that you can whip up in almost no time at all.
It begins by combining rice flour, corn flour, tapioca starch, salt, eggs, sugar and milk to form a batter that is whisked until completely smooth. This is later followed with pitted cherries that are then softened in butter that has been melted in a cast iron pan. Swirl the cherries together with the butter until they are well-coated and just cooked. Pour the earlier-prepared batter over the cherries and then bake in the oven until puffed and golden brown on the edges. To add the finishing touch, sift a dusting of icing sugar over the cherry clafoutis, and serve it up.
This is summer in a pan.
- ⅙ cup rice flour
- ⅙ cup corn flour
- ⅙ cup tapioca starch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 cups fresh, pitted cherries
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Whipped cream, for accompanying (optional)
- Icing sugar for dusting (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 425 deg Fahrenheit (220 deg Cel)
- Begin by pitting cherries, then set aside
- In a large bowl, combine rice flour, corn flour and tapioca starch together with salt, eggs, sugar, milk and melted butter. Whisk very well until you get a completely smooth batter
- In a large cast iron pan, melt the butter over medium heat on the stove until it start bubbling
- Add in the pitted cherries, and cook until the cherries have just softened and are completely coated with butter ( around 2 minutes)
- Sprinkle the cherries with sugar and cook until the sugar has turned into a syrup (1 - 2 minutes)
- Pour the batter over the cooked cherries and place in the middle rack of the oven then bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until the clafoutis is puffed and golden brown on the edges. (Do not oven the oven door before baking time is up or the clafoutis may collapse)
- Serve immediately with a dusting of icing sugar and whipped cream.