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French dessert stars in Mother’s Day brunch

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Since many of our favorite places to celebrate may be closed, let’s get creative. Perhaps you’d like to “take” mom to her own personal French bistro for brunch?

Place a table somewhere unexpected, like your garden, or in front of the fireplace or a pretty window. Set a lovely table with flowers, coffee and mimosas. Add some twinkle lights and music. To complete the Mother’s Day bistro experience, have her wait outside for an hour to be seated. Just kidding! Don’t do that.

Here’s a lovely recipe perfect for Mother’s Day (or any day). We have a decadent dish that’s fancy pants, frugal and fabulous. Drum roll please — clafouti.

Clafouti (pronounced kla-foo-TEE) is a simple French dish that serves as a dessert, special breakfast or star of your next brunch. It’s extremely versatile, very inexpensive and certainly elegant. Did I mention it’s easy? If you can make pancakes, you can make clafouti.

You make this classic French dessert by pouring a sweet crepe-like batter over fruit and baking. The eggy batter bakes around the fruit, resulting in a light, airy, flan-like texture. Use whatever fruit you have on hand, whip up a quick batter in your blender and bake to impress. It is delicious warm, room temperature or cold straight from the fridge.

I’m using strawberries in this recipe because they’re coming into season, so they’ll be affordable, abundant and delicious. But don’t hesitate to use frozen strawberries all year long.

Once you know how to make this batter, it’s a perfect blank canvas for almost any fruit you can think of. Cherries, bananas, plums, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries can all get into the clafouti club. Depending on the season, even sautéed apples and pears, dried figs, raisins and cranberries can be used. This is an excellent place for thawed frozen fruit to shine; just make sure to drain the liquid off before using them or it will compromise the setting of the custard.

And, because the recipe calls for a small amount of flour, you can easily make it gluten free; just swap an equal amount of brown rice flour.

Give your next soiree French flair with this versatile frugally fabulous dish. Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Divas on a Dime.

STRAWBERRY CLAFOUTI

Yield: 4 brunch or 6 dessert servings

Time: 50 minutes

What you’ll need:

Softened butter for the baking dish

1¼ cups half and half, or milk

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ cup flour

1 pound frozen or fresh strawberries

2 teaspoons cornstarch if using frozen berries

Powdered sugar, for garnish

Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter an 8-cup baking dish, heavy pie dish or cast iron skillet.

Using a blender, combine the half and half, sugars, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour. Blend for 30 seconds. Let the batter rest while you prepare the berries.

If you’re using frozen strawberries, drain the juice and toss berries with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to help absorb some of the remaining juices. If your berries are whole, slice them in half.

Place berries, cut side down, in your baking dish. Pour the batter over the berries. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until it’s puffed up, browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the clafouti from the oven and allow it to cool for a little while, during which time you’ll see it deflate and settle a bit. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar and whipped cream if desired.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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