If someone asks you to housesit, say yes. There is, certainly, the mild inconvenience of moving your clothes and having to find your way around someone else’s kitchen, but there are so many advantages. You might have the chance to explore a new neighbourhood, to explore new bookstores, walk through new parks, and meet different people. You might learn to take care of a dog, or a cat, or an elderly, misogynistic cockatiel. You might even get paid.
And—if you are very lucky—you might get to eat red currants fresh from the garden.
I set out to pick the currants at the start of a gorgeous day, with a clear blue sky promising heat, but the night’s cool air still lingering pleasantly. I had received permission from the homeowner the day before to partake of the garden’s bounty, and was very, very excited. I’ve had plenty of dried currants in mince pies and so forth, and a fair bit of red currant jelly, but I’ve never come across fresh currants before. I also reasoned that berry picking would be a very good antidote to several days spent cloistered away in the library translating what seems like a dozen different texts
The first big surprise was that currants do not have prickles. Somehow I had always imagined them as having them, though I suppose that since they are related to gooseberries, it makes far more sense for them to be prickleless than prickled. The second surprise was that snails absolutely love them. I haven’t seen that many snails since leaving California, where there were so many snails that my sister and I would regularly devise sporting events for them, adopt them as pets, and throw them over the wall at the neighbour’s cars.
Once I had the berries in hand, and had completed the prodigious task of destemming them, I had to decide what to do with them. Currants are too tart to eat on their own; they are reminiscent of pomegranate, but sharper. There were too few berries to make jam, and I didn’t have any milk to make vla, so I opted for a clafoutis. Summer is the perfect time for such a breakfast—creamy, bursting with fruit, and just a little fancy.
So, go find a house to sit so you can have a proper breakfast.
Red Currant and Apricot Clafoutis
Adapted from a recipe by Béa Peltre on her beautiful blog La Tartine Gourmande.
- 1 T butter
- 2 apricots, pitted and cut into quarters
- 3 T coconut sugar
- 3/8 C coconut milk
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- 2 T flour (I used spelt, as that’s what I had on hand, but you can experiment)
- pinch of salt
- 4 oz. fresh red currants
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in a small cast-iron pan over medium-low heat, swirling it so that it coats the sides as well as the bottom. Add the apricots and 1 T of the coconut sugar and cook, stirring, until the apricots are softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat together the remaining 2 T of coconut sugar, the coconut milk, the egg, the arrowroot powder, the flour, and the salt. Spread the currants over and around the apricot slices and pour the batter over the top. Stick the pan in the oven and back for 20-25 minutes, until the crust has turned golden-brown and is pulling away from the edge of the pan.