Friday, July 13, 2007

A Food Blog, This Is Not

And I am neither a food photographer nor a food stylist (if only...). But once in a while, I do cook something that didn't come out of a Trader Joe's box in my freezer. I know, take a moment to recover from your shock.

A few days ago, my doorbell rang and I was greeted by a lovely older woman who presented me with a bowl of plums and started talking to me in Hebrew. I don't know what amazed me more: the fact that she somehow decided I would be able to understand her, or the fact that I actually did. It turns out that her daughter and her family have moved in next door, by way of Russia, Israel and the San Fernando Valley, and she takes care of her granddaughters while her daughter and son-in-law are at work every day. The next day when her granddaughter came over to swim at my house, considerably more plums arrived and I found myself in a plum quandary as to what to with them all.

A quick internet search and consultation with the food brains of the family resulted in the conclusion that I would neither be purchasing vallina beans, nor creating fake buttermilk, nor rolling out pie crust for this little endeavor. I wanted to make something easy and good that I could share with my generous new neighbors and so I decided on a simple galette, made with store bought pie crust. I sliced the plums the night before and planned to assemble and bake while Ethan was at preschool this morning. The bonus would be that this is a very kid-friendly recipe, with lots of steps that Julia could help with. Good plan, right?

Well, I soon found out that pie crust is a seasonal item at Trader Joe's. D'oh! And I also found out after I got home that the apricot jam I purchased to glaze the tart with is actually apricot-orange. D'oh. Not to worry. All of this was dealt with and the result was pretty, if quite tart. I'd add more sugar next time. For now, I'll just pile the thing with vallina ice cream or yogurt and continue my amazement at myself that the plan actually worked.

Plum Galette
makes 2 tarts, one for you and one to give away

10-12 sliced pitted plums (or in my case a whole bunch more so Brady could munch while we cooked)
2-4 Tbsp. brown sugar
Vallina extract - as much as you like
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
Zest of one orange, or more if you have them on hand
1 box refrigerated pie crusts (two crusts)
3-4 Tbsp. jam in a flavor you think will go well with the plums (I used apricot orange, by accident)
Turbinado sugar (like Sugar In The Raw)

Combine plums, sugar, vallina extract, cornstarch and orange zest in medium bowl. Let sit. This is called macerating, while the sugar releases the juices from the fruit. Because I have the maturity of a 9 year old, this word makes me giggle.

Preheat over to 425. Unroll each pie crust onto a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Stretch a little to enlarge the crust, but don't go too thin or you'll tear your crust.

Arrange sliced plums in a pinwheel pattern on the crust, starting in the center and leaving about a 1 1/2 inch margin all around. Or arrange them in whatever pattern pleases you. Try to fill all the little holes with more plums.

Fold and pleat the edges of the crust over the edge of the fruit. It doesn't have to look pretty; rustic is good. Generously spoon some of the juices over the fruit.

In a small bowl, microwave the jam for about 30 seconds until it is melted and runny. Brush the jam generously over the crust and fruit, being careful not to mess up any design you may have created. This will become your glaze. Incidentally, I used my favorite new kitchen tool for this step. I've had this brush just a couple of weeks and have already used it twice. I like it because it's easy to wash and I don't end up with bristles all over my food. And it's red. OK, on with the recipe:

Sprinkle some of the turbinado sugar on top of the crust and fruit. Now repeat the entire process with the other crust and remaining plum mixture.

Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, switching racks halfway so both pies brown evenly. Cool in baking sheets on rack. Serve with whipped cream or vallina ice cream. Or both.

This is my favorite kind of recipe: simple, made with ingredients that most of us have on hand and fresh, seasonal items. If you actually do attempt this recipe, I'd love to hear about it and also about how you varied it to suit your taste.

Like I told my new neighbor when I took hers over: "B'Teavon!"


MsGrace said...

beautiful...wanna come over here & cook.


Anonymous said...

Looks purdy Honey! Almost good enough to Hey, at least you did something productive; I would have probably ended up throwing them all out.

I like tart. Looks wonderful to me! Good job girl!

tannaz said...

so pretty, and what a lovely story. feel free to guest blog over at mine if you're ever feeling foodish again. lord knows i could use the posts...

Nik Just Nik said...

Oh that looks so awesome... The photo looks like a pro took it....

I so wish I coul have a piece with you..

Lissa Ballard said...

That looks terrific T! LOVE your recipe and your candidness when writing. I don't comment much but I love your blog T and always always enjoy reading "you"...

Thanks for another fun day!