Friday, August 13, 2010


HOME. I am baffled by the concept of home. Sometimes when I think of home my mind wanders to Florida, to the home I grew up in. It is still the same…the hot, dry land overgrown with sharp, wild things, steamy days and sultry nights or the deep darkness of a stormy afternoon, the rain bringing a cooling breeze while thunder growls in the distance. I step tentatively across the scorching cement in my bare feet, sand prickly between my toes, or glide across the cool tiles into the kitchen where I grab an ice cold drink or a handful of candy. The cool terrazzo floors of my childhood have been replaced with creamy tile and dark chocolate wood, but the feeling is the same from the large kitchen table, inviting us all to hunker down in family-style conviviality, to the tv room, dog under a coffee table strewn with phone books, paperbacks, notepads and pens, to my girlhood bedroom whose shelves still groan under the weight of my old doll collection, books and knick knacks and the closet is filled with secrets nestled inside boxes of Barbies, a bedroom where I can still find a comforting haven from the noise and bustle of the world.

Yet when I am there, I think of home, la maison, chez nous. Husband, sons, dog, our daily rhythm and quiet habits call, beckoning me back to France. I have always felt to be foreign here, the American in France, l’étrangère – a stranger in a strange land – yet there is something so familiar in the life I lead now, as familiar and comforting as a worn-in pair of jeans or a cuddly old sweater. I know how life feels and step into it every morning understanding how it works, where it will lead. My best friends are a heartbeat away, friends who have become sisters, all strangers in a strange land just like me, friends who I turn to, can rely on, a necessary part of my everyday life now. All of these tender, fragile things make up this home and I can’t imagine it any other way.

Home is where the heart is but my heart is torn in two, divided between my family and my memories and the friends of my youth whose laughter still echoes in my ears and my family – husband and sons, newer friends and a calmer way of life. Both homes, both families, tug at my heart and I sit and wonder: what makes home, well, home?

Heading to Florida: at the airport...

and Clément has nothing better to do with his time. Well, it keeps him off the streets.

Summer is nearing its end and the air is cooler, a hint of Autumn stirs faintly on the breeze. We were all there in Florida: mom and brother and sister and old school friends and memories, so many memories. Plus JP and Clem and Simon. JP kept his feet up, reading, relaxing. Clem worked on an architecture project for the first couple of weeks but found the time to run to the beach with JP every afternoon to swim, fish and explore. And they actually caught fish! Simon sprawled on the floor next to Buster or on the sofa next to his grandmother, catching up on his down time, his tv and nap time. He left us rather too quickly to rejoin his group, his new life, his new home in New Orleans, loving every second of it. We ate like little piggies, enjoying that good old American cuisine and snacks up until the last day. We went to the zoo, the shopping mall and the movies together, and we felt like the family we used to be when the boys were younger and we spent our vacations together. The boys grew up somewhere along the way and before we knew it we had all gone our separate ways, rarely sitting and talking, no longer enjoying family vacations or sharing a weekend. This one trip brought us together as a family once again and I feel like we’ve started over.

Clem with the catch of the day

Simon and Buster

Ah, yes! The happy couple!

At the zoo

Find the monkey...

Ah! Here he is!

Home is where the kitchen is. Home is where you make it but home is where I can cook and bake for loved ones, friends and family alike. A hot meal for JP, a birthday cake for Clem or a platter of chocolate chip cookies for Simon. Chocolate Chiffon Pie to make my mom happy or macarons for Clem’s friends. The warm kitchen, the smells of fresh bread or cinnamon and vanilla floating through the apartment and cakes spread out on the table are what make my house a home. Blanquette simmering on the stovetop or pulling pizza from the oven, I bring my family together around the dining room table and share the love.

I made this luscious Lemon Flan with Raspberries before our Florida vacation. This is the first sweet dessert I have made from Les Clafoutis de Christophe by Christophe Felder, longtime pastry chef at the renowned Hôtel Crillon in Paris. A clafoutis is a milk/cream and egg base flan type dish, thickened with a bit of flour or cornstarch, most familiar to us in its sweet form prepared with cherries. It is similar to a quiche, but without the crust, and is just as versatile. Mr. Felder’s book is filled with enticing recipes for all kinds of original clafoutis, both sweet and savory. Following his recipe for a savory clafoutis base, I created a wonderful Clafoutis of Ratte Potatoes, Asparagus and Bleu d’Auvergne, a dish smooth and delightfully creamy, the blue cheese offering the perfect touch of tang. And now I wanted to try his mouthwatering Lemon and Raspberry Clafoutis.

Why do I call it a flan? The dessert was delicious yet I found it to be thicker than a traditional clafoutis, more like a flan, so there you have it. I love most anything lemony and this flan did not disappoint. Plump, sweet, yet slightly tart raspberries were a wonderful contrast to the delicate, lemony base and the color was amazing! I am also anxious to try this again replacing the raspberries with either blackberries or blueberries. I may also try stirring in a bit less flour next time. Show a little love. Serve this to your family and bring it all home.

Thank you Clément for all of the pictures taken on your iPhone during our vacation.

Ladurée, Pierre Hermé, Lenôtre, Dalloyau, Gérard Mulot... whisper just one of these magical names to any sweet tooth in the know and you will see eyes light up, lips twitch into a smile and the word macaron will roll gently off of the tongue, escape on a sigh..… Macaron Madness, my latest article on Huffington Post Food, thinks through the mystique of the tiny French Treat.

From Les Clafoutis de Christophe by Christophe Felder (I left the measurements as is)

9 ½ - 10-inch (25-cm) round or 10 x 7 x 2-inch (26 x 18 x 5-cm) baking dish
30 g butter
50 g sugar

For the clafoutis/flan:
2 large eggs
40 g sugar
55 g flour
200 ml heavy cream
70 ml milk
50 ml strained lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp rum or Amaretto
350 g raspberries

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter the baking dish then sprinkle the bottom and sides liberally with the granulated sugar.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and flour. Add the milk, the lemon juice and zest and the rum or Amaretto. Finally, add the cream and whisk until blended.

Evenly distribute the fruit over the bottom of the baking dish then pour the clafoutis/flan mixture over the fruit. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes just until set in the center.


Uzma said...

Did u mean 350 rapberries or 350 gms raspberries...pls tell me its the latter!

Jamie said...

@Uzma - Thanks!! Good catch and duly corrected! 350 grams raspberries!

RamblingTart said...

Beautiful, Jamie. I've been giving a lot of thought to home as well. I think for those of us who have spent our lives traveling, moving, putting down and pulling up roots over and over again, home is many places, many memories, many hearts entangled with ours. I love my home.

Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle said...

Oh too bad; I already put in 350!

Of course I'm kidding. The dish sounds great but I'm mostly just here to say how WONDERFUL it was that we got to talk. Not quite as far as France but most of a continent away still in Colorado, it was good to hear the voice of someone who has become a friend!

Glad you're back safely...and I'm telling you - next time avoid the heat and head west! XOXO

Happy Cook said...

I love what your son have done with your pic :-) The flan looks so so good.

Marisa said...

Great post. I am just starting to build my own family, having been married for three years now, and I stand at the beginning of that journey of finding your own identity as a family. I would imagine that it gets harder as you go along, meeting new people, your children growing up, etc.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That is a divine flan! This is one of my favorite cobos!




Ria Mathew said...

LOL! Jamie, that was a funny pic of yours! What if you looked like that in real life? :-) Just kidding!

So you were here in my part of the world! We were 1000's of miles away though, sadly!

The flan looks very good! Raspberry n lemon...yummy!

Barbara said...

I understand your feelings Jamie. I spent 30 years in my husbands country of New Zealand before returning to Australia. I didn't go back to my home state. Instead we chose to live on the opposite coast, and where Bryan and I met 38 years ago.It's home for me.

I love clafoutis and was thinking about making one today. This sounds delicious.

DebbieK said...

And she's back...........better than ever. Rested and relaxed and having had a lovely time being a family of 4 again, even if it was for just a short while :) I figured it out...your food is LOVE...and you share it with your family and your friends and thanks to your blog, with people from all corners of the globe. Keep sharing the love Jamie <3

elra said...

You look really lovely and beautiful jaime. Your kids are adorable, know I know where they get it from.

Lovely flan, raspberry add summer zing to it.

theUngourmet said...

I like you new light and airy look over here! Very nice! Your flan is lovely. I love lemon and raspberry together. I've been thinking a lot about home lately too. We are thinking of relocating and I'm wondering how my kids will take it.

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

I love the introduction to your post. And your flan and presentation looks beautiful :)

Heavenly Housewife said...

Oh my, someone's been having a bit of fun with photoshop daaaaaahling. Nope, not your look dear.
Glad you are back :D. Shall we celebrate with some flan?
Have a great weekend!
*kisses* HH

Sasa said...

"Home is where the heart is but my heart is torn in two" Ooh, I hear you T_T Beautiful post and lovely looking flan too.

Heidi Leon Monges said...

It's so wonderful to see all the pictures of life's a feast family together in their other home country. (merci Clem)

but also wonderful to be at your own home...right?

I think I can understand that feeling you described so well. I'm heading to Mexico in September and I'm very happy about it, but I know I will miss MY home...

On the culinary side of the post, I adore flan, but haven't tried a lemony one. One more recipe to try!.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

*Sigh* Ahh yes where is home really? I love that picture of you too. Now I think I'd love you flan more than a clafoutis. Now off to read your macaron post on HuffPo! x

Tangled Noodle said...

Oh, it is so beautiful (and, I'm sure, delicious, too!) So happy to read of the wonderful time you and your family had at 'home' in Florida. My husband and I have moved around so often that it is difficult for me to peg where I would consider my home, other than where I currently am. It's made 'home' because I am with my loved ones. 8-)

The photo of Simon and Buster zonked out on the floor is classic!

Deeba PAB said...

Divine flan, and I think I like it better than the clafoutis. I like that it is thicker, looks so much more indulgent! Beautiful pictures, lovely to see JP finally framed,and the lads too. You had a wonderful holiday Jamie girl. Ah yes my dear, home is where the ♥ is!
PS I like the sound of the cookbook!

girlichef said...

Oh beautiful. Your sentiments ring so true...from the home we grew up in to the home we've formed w/ our "own" families...home is where the love, the kitchen, our heart its! Welcome back, sweet lady. Your flan is equally beautiful =) I love the lighter, breezier, airier feel of your new (?since I've stopped by last?) blog color/design!

Jamie said...

@girlichef - Yes, my son just redid the blog the past couple of weeks while we were on vacation. Thanks. It does feel lighter. And thanks for you kind words!

@Barbara@VinoLuciStyle - I loved talking with you! Between kids and blogs your words always make me think and feel better! xo

@DebbieK - Amazing seeing you again! xo

@elra - thanks, lovely friend!

Barbara Bakes said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation. I love our family vacations too. This year the SIL came along, so I'm hoping they never have to end. Perhaps soon with a grandbaby.

The "flan" sounds like a flavor combination I would love.

shaz said...

Beautifully written Jamie, and something I can relate to. I have the "home" of my childhood,and the "home" of my children.

Speaking of children, yours are darling! And funny. And at last I get to catch a glimpse of the mysterious JP :)

Lovely flan too.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Beautiful flan, I love anything lemony too. And the photos, such fun! Love that one with Simon and Buster. ☺

Reeni said...

I agree wholeheartedly that home is where the kitchen is. I love that line! Your flan is like a piece of sunshine! So scrumptious with the raspberries. I enjoyed seeing your pictures!

5 Star Foodie said...

This lemon raspberry flan looks quite heavenly! Yum!

MeetaK said...

i am still laughing of the redo clement gave you! OMG! too funny! it's good to have you back here saucy! the flan and the pictures of your holiday are fantastic.

home to me is where the heart feels it belongs, where you are welcome, where you feel you can let your hair down, take off the shoes and just be you!

Sippity Sup said...

Is there a difference between flan and clafouti? PS I don't like nose piercings and I think you should get rid of it... GREG

lisaiscooking said...

I need to practice clafoutis baking. I've never had problems with flan, but clafoutis recipes have left me with failures. The lemon and raspberry flavors sound great in yours!

Sophie said...

Waw!! Your raspberry flan looks so tasty & well appetizing too!

Just stunning!

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, over the years, I've come to realize that for me, home is not a place, but it's people. This flan is absolutely gorgeous!

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Oh Jamie, how I laughed at that "makeover"!! Clearly your son shares your naughty sense of humour!! Love the family pics and love the line about how it is nice to get back to your adopted country because you just know how things work there! So true. Flan/clafoutis looke phenomenal and so summery!

Jamie said...

@Jeanne @cooksisterblog - Oh man, Clem and I were rolling on the floor laughing while he was doing the pictures! It was hysterical.


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