Cook's Dream, Times 2

Finding a really, really good recipe doesn't happen often in the life of a cook. There are millions of OK recipes but very few super-good ones. Here are two of the super-good kind that should become regulars on your table.

Over the years, I have eaten--but never enjoyed--the pudding-like French country cake called clafouti. Not only could I not pronounce clafouti (cla-foo-TEE), I didn't often need to because I didn't like the rather wet, gummy cake soaked with fruit juices. Here at last is a version that makes it clear why it's a classic. As with all good, simple recipes, it's important to follow the directions carefully.

The First Prize Onion Casserole is splendid. Some ingredients just belong together, and this dish is a perfect example. The blend of white rice, slightly sweet onions and Swiss cheese is just right. I like it with fresh peas and sliced tomatoes. Serve it with a dark wheat bread and finish the meal with a peach clafouti.

Cunningham's latest book is "Cooking With Children" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995).

CASA ORINDA CLAFOUTI CAKE

Plums, nectarines or apricots may be substituted for the peaches.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups peeled, sliced peaches

1/2 cup raspberries

Put butter in 13x9-inch baking pan in 375-degree oven until just melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in large bowl until combined. Add milk and whisk briskly until well blended. (Batter should be rather thin.) Pour batter over melted butter. Cut through 2 to 3 times with rubber spatula and push batter into corners.

Drain any liquid from peaches. Place peach slices evenly over batter. (They will sink to bottom of pan.) Place raspberries evenly over batter. Bake at 350 degrees until top is well browned, about 50 minutes. Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream if desired.

10 to 12 servings. Each of 12 servings without whipped cream:

361 calories; 411 mg sodium; 44 mg cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 52 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.35 grams fiber.

FIRST PRIZE ONION CASSEROLE

5 cups water

Salt

1/2 cup rice

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing dish

4 large onions, cut in 1/2-inch dice

1 cup (6 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

2/3 cup half and half or milk

Bring water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil over high heat. Slowly stir in rice. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Drain rice and put in bowl.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Add to rice. Add cheese, half and half and 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste and stir until well combined. Spread rice mixture in buttered 10-inch round or 13x9-inch baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees until lightly golden, about 1 hour.

6 servings. Each serving:

268 calories; 364 mg sodium; 50 mg cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams protein; 0.45 gram fiber.

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