I was recently on a cruise in the Baltic Sea and spent three days in St. Petersburg where we toured the Hermitage Museum known for its collection of more than three million works of art among five buildings, one of which was the Winter Palace of Czar Nicholas II, a member of Russia’s Romanov family. While many people think Strawberries Romanoff was created for the Romanov family by their royal chef, they would be wrong. This dessert was originally created by Auguste Escoffier and known as “Strawberries Americaine Style” when he was Chef at the Carlton Hotel in London in the 1920s. Around the mid 1940’s Escoffier’s recipe was “borrowed” by Prince Michael Romanoff (he was actually an actor and considered a “professional imposter” as there was no royal blood in his family). But he did know how to publicize his restaurant and promote a wonderful dessert, Strawberries Romanoff. The recipe lives on long after his death in 1971 and is still considered a classic when it comes to summer entertaining.
Clafouti is a traditional French dessert with a flan-like batter poured over black cherries, and a delightful dessert in the warmth and sunshine of summer when cherries are in season. When you use other fruits, such as pears, peaches, apples or berries, it technically becomes a Flaugnarde – which is harder to pronounce and doesn’t sound nearly as sexy – so I made a Blackberry Clafouti! Raspberries are one of my favorite berries, but when I got to the store I found Raspberries cost $9 for a 12 ounce pack, while the blackberries (which looked luscious) were selling for $5 – it was a bit of a struggle as I went back and forth on which to choose, but guess which berry won!