I am walking through the Wee Restaurant in North Queensferry, Edinburgh with a clafoutis in my hand one lunchtime. My photographer Brendan MacNeill and I have just been into Craig Wood’s kitchen to see how this French classic is made. Now we’re going to sample it before trying other dishes from the menu. Perhaps all meals should start this way a dessert first? It is absolutely delicious as are other dishes we try: smoked chicken and leek terrine with red pepper pesto; rabbit boudin and Thiol black pudding, celerie remoulade and calves liver with tongue.
On my way through the restaurant I catch the eye of two ladies who I find out later are celebrating a birthday. I have inadvertently piqued their interest on something that’s not on the lunch menu but is on the evening menu. But nothing is too much trouble at the Wee Restaurant, the ladies later tuck into the dish too. I have a chat with them and they are full of praises. “It’s wonderful to escape the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh” says one. “We often come here, it’s not just the food, it’s the service and atmosphere” says the second. It’s just that sort of place.
The menu definitely has French influences, but Craig’s focus is on local ingredients. His network of suppliers are a very important part of the menu. They might suggest that a particular fish is at its prime, so that will appear cooked with care.
Craig Wood is a contented man. His restaurant is going from strength to strength. He lives next door to the restaurant with his wife and 3 children and part of the vibrant community. The sous chef working today is the son of a friend. He is big advocate of getting children interested in food. He regularly goes into the local primary school North Queensferry Primary to teach cooking skills. He’s keen to get children appreciating food as early as possible. He tempts kids to eat from the grown up menu, adapting the dish little if required. Admitting that his children do like the occasional fast food meal, he encourages them to try everything and anything.
And so to Craig’s Clafoutis. This is a dish originally from the Limousin region in France and is traditionally made with cherries. It’s a dish that I’ve found to be pretty variable in restaurants – it can be stodgy and my experience of making it home until now has been pretty hit and miss. The addition of the ground almonds really elevates the dish and local blueberries are just perfect. Try to serve this as soon as possible when it comes out of the oven as it does deflate a little (but will taste just as good of course).
- Makes 4 small or 1 large
- 60g Ground Almonds
- 15g flour
- ½ vanilla pod scraped (seeds only)
- 100g caster sugar
- 250g Double Cream
- 2 Eggs
- 3 Egg Yolks
- Simply blend all the ingredients together in a food processor for 30 seconds until smooth. Cling film the mixture and refrigerate the mixture for a few hours or overnight.
- Whisk before use.
- To cook the clafoutis simply warm a small non stick pan or 4 individual blini pans. Use a pan with a metal handle as it will be going in the oven.
- Warm the pan and add a small knob of butter – when it foams lightly add the clafoutis batter then sprinkle in the blueberries (approximately 1 punnet)
- Place the whole pan in the oven and bake for 10-15 mins at 200oC
- The clafoutis should soufflé up and be raised in the middle, if its sunk – leave it in longer.
- When ready carefully tip the clafoutis out of the pan and serve immediately with some crème Chantilly or ice cream
Thank you Craig for welcoming us to your kitchen.
Find out More
17 Main Street,
Phone : 01383 61 62 63
Open Tuesday to Sunday 12 – 2pm and 6.30 – 9pm. Special events are often held on Monday evenings.
All photos in this post are copyright Brendan MacNeill