Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Book Tour Stops Here: "Passing Love" by Jacquline E. Luckett with Blueberry & Elderflower Clafoutis

"She'd waited all her life to go to Paris. As for the reasons why the dream of speaking French in France, of standing beneath the Eiffel Tower at the stroke of midnight, of lingering in sidewalk cafes..." 


Nicole has dreamed of France since she was a child and she found a small blue French dictionary in the trunk at the foot of her parents bed. Before passing away from cancer, Nicole's best friend makes her promise to take the trip the two planned together, and at 56, she finds herself alone in Paris for a month. When she unexpectedly stumbles across an old photo of her soldier father inscribed to a woman she doesn't know, Nicole goes looking for answers. This is one half of the storyline in Passing Love, a novel by Jacqueline E. Luckett. (Grand Central Publishing, 2012, Paperback, 320 pages) Set primarily in Paris in both current day and in the 1940's and 1950's, the story moves back and forth between Nicole and Ruby Mae, a young Mississippi girl who finds herself in the post WWII smoky, jazz club scene in the City of Light.


This is author Jacqueline Luckett's second book since she quit corporate life after taking a creative writing class and started to write short stories and poetry. Luckett fills it with fascinating details about the black experience in Paris, where many ex-pats settled to escape the oppression of discrimination in America and especially the Deep South. I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of Paris in the two different eras and the feelings that her words evoked and I found the last half of the book engrossing. I did struggle in the beginning of the book to be able connect with and relate to any of the characters and their personalities, but eventually it clicked into place and I found myself turning the pages to see what would happen.


Overall, I enjoyed this book for its ability to transport me to France and for the glimpse it gave me into a different time and way of life. To me it is not a summer beach read, but rather the book that you take into a quaint little neighborhood coffee shop and linger with over a cappuccino when you want to get out of the sun.

 
As you might know from visiting here, I just can't bring myself to review a book without making a dish inspired by it. Although food was not a key theme in the book, it was represented both in French dishes as well as Southern cooking. I wanted something that felt French and I had mass quantities of fresh organic blueberries purchased on sale last week for $1.99 a pint at Whole Foods. I decided on a clafoutis, that classic French baked dessert with an eggy batter over cherries--or in this case blueberries. Supposedly, if you use another kind of fruit it is technically a flaugnarde, but I like saying clafoutis much better. ;-) In addition to the juicy blueberries, I added floral notes with some decidedly French St. Germain Elderflower Cordial

(I adapted this recipe from the wonderful Cherry Clafoutis recipe in Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories From the Orchid by Romney Steele--a gorgeous and wonderful fruit cookbook. Follow the link for the original Cherry Clafoutis recipe as I have my adapted recipe below.)

Blueberry Clafoutis
Adapted From Plum Gorgeous by Romney Steele
(Serves 6-8)

4 cups fresh blueberries

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Elderflower Cordial
6 eggs
1 cup non-dairy milk
2/3 cup non-dairy creamer

1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
6 Tbsps flour

a small pinch of salt
1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Wash blueberries and pat dry. In a large bowl, toss the blueberries with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the elderflower cordial, to taste. Set bowl aside at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Generously butter earthenware dish or skillets using (one large or a few smaller). Generously scatter the blueberries in the bottom of the dish.

Combine the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar, eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and almond extract, flour, and salt in a blender. Blend to combine thoroughly; straining if needed to remove any lumps of flour, then whisk the lumps back in by hand.


Pour the custard mixture over the blueberries. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes (less if using smaller pans), or until the clafoutis is puffy, golden brown and just set in the middle. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and dust with confectioners’ sugar, if you like, before serving.


Notes/Results: Wonderful flavor--so sweet and creamy. I have a tendency to "over blueberry," (mainly because I hate blueberry baked goods with only a few blueberries in them so I over compensate), but I like the ratio of the extra fruit and the cake. You have to love how easy clafoutis are to make--everything gets dumped in the blender, blended and then poured over the fruit. Easy peasy. I actually made half the recipe which filled my small casserole dish perfectly. I would make this again. 


 Note: A review copy of Passing Love was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.
 

 

6 comments:

GlutenFreeHappyTummy said...

that looks so yummy! i love blueberry desserts:)

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

This DOES sound like the perfect coffee shop book! Glad you enjoyed it in the end.

Thanks for being on the tour.

kat said...

that looks so good!

Joanne said...

I was going to say, any book set between France and the South has to have SOME mention of food! This clafouti looks so berry-licious...which means it must be EXTRA delicious.

theviewfromGreatIsland said...

Wonderful post, and 'yay' for over-blueberrying!

Terry said...

I wonder if i can find the book in italian! In the meantime i'll try for sure your clafoutis... I so love elderflower and i wonder how it taste with blueberries.. I bet its delicious! Thnak for your ideas ;)