Thursday, September 29, 2011

Because I have more than enough...

I wasn't kidding.  I am on a roll. A dangerous, plum induced, tart-crazed role. Someone stop me. Or, more appropriately, someone come over with an appetite big enough to consume what is churning out of my oven.  Lots and lots of tarts and spiced cakes that is.  I love tarts. Anything with the word tart in it is bound to be delicious. In fact, tart may very well be my favorite word.  Tart, tart, tart.  I could care less if used as a noun or an adjective, whatever the case, I'm down, I'm into it, I'm all about it.


This latest rustic tart is for my friend Marley. I made it for three reasons really. 1. I have a lot of plums and as I told you I am obsessed with tarts. 2.  I have A LOT of plums, a lot a lot. and probably most importantly 3. I wanted an excuse to go play with Ethel her lovely  dog. If ever there was a dog with a lot of panache...  So that's the reason-- I love Ethel, I love Marley, and I love tarts.  I only feel the need to give my reasoning here because soon you will have enough of my plum inspired desserts and you will wonder how it is and why it is that I continue to share them with you.  In the meantime though.... make this tart. Make it now. Share it. Eat it. Save some for breakfast. Whatever the order, just make it, you won't regret it.  It also happens to take about 10 seconds to prepare.. Just another great thing about tarts.

Rustic Plum Tart
adapted from Pure Dessert 
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tbl. cold cubed butter
1 egg lightly beaten
5 plums of any variety (tarter plums taste better in my opinion)

Combine dry ingredients together using a food processor on pulse mode. Add in butter and egg and pulse to combine.

Mixture will be crumbly and slightly yellow.  Press lightly into greased tart pan (removable botom helpful).

Arrange plums skin side up, pressing them slightly into crust to prevent them from rolling onto their sides during baking. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 375.  Serves 8.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Plums, and pies, and more plums

As I have mention before, this is my first year experiencing Northwest fruits. Cherries, peaches, strawberries, and need I mention blackberries and raspberries are all just better on this coast. It happens to be a fact. However, I was not ready for the plums. Not at all.  In all honesty, I didn't and don't really think of plums all that often.  I am sincerely sorry though, for not thinking of them more, because they are a highly highly underrated fruit. They may just be my favorite fruit.  What I also love about them is this year, they happen to grow in my back yard.  And by they I mean black plums, and zillions of them, happily ripening on the giant tree just outside the backdoor.  Happy plum season!

So now I have 11 gallons of pitted, sliced, and bagged black plums sitting in my freezer.  A dream come true.  As I have an abundance of plums, be prepared for an abundance of plum related recipes and posts. Even as I write this to tell you about the black plum lemon custard pie I made the other day, I have a spiced plum cake and a rustic plum tart baking in the oven.  Don't worry I won't bombard you. We'll take it one plum at a time...

I kinda made this one up on the spot.  The lemon filling is my lemon bar recipe with an additional egg, and the crust is my pie crust recipe with a little extra sugar, and the plums-- well, they are just the perfect company.

For the Crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

I used a food processor on pulse, which I find to be easier and more consistent than by hand mixing. Make sure you use ice cold refrigerator butter and DO NOT over mix.  Dough should be crumbling and hard to roll. Chill before rolling.

For the filling:
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice (Juice lemons in a juicer with rind on if possible, if not add 1.5 tablespoons of lemon zest)

For the plums: 
Quarter about 7 plums and macerate in lemon juice and a hearty sprinkling of sugar. The picture to the left is the amount I used for four pies and I still had some left over.  No worries though, they are delicious with yogurt or milk. Let sit while you make crust and filling.

Once you roll out the dough let rest in pie pan.  Make lemon custard filling by whisking together all ingredients until lightly fluffed.  Puncture small holes in bottom of crust and par-bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, fill bottom with plums, and lightly press into crust. Continue to bake for 5 minutes.  Then top with filling and bake for 30-35 minutes.  I found the plums still moved to the top of the pie, unlike I originally intended, but resulted in a nice color pattern.  If you want a layer of plums at the bottom I would suggest pressing them into the crust before baking, that way they don't roll over or rise to the top of the pie. Either way, I think you will be pleased with the color and texture of the black plums with lemon.  It is actually, and I don't want to brag, amazingly delicious.

As I mentioned I made four pies, three of which made their way to a rehearsal dinner party, and the other was cobbled without hesitation by my co-workers and roommates. With the amount of plums I have laying around I am almost positive I will be baking this pie again. In fact, I am entered into a pie contest in West Seattle at the end of October so you never know.  Until then stay tuned for plum cakes, tarts, and breads... Seriously, happy happy plum season!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shopping lists and cookies...

Over the past few months I have developed quite a little shopping list.  As with all wish lists somethings are inherently more useful, essential even, like the rolling pin I still don't own.  (Don't judge... we've all rolled out pie dough with a wine bottle before). Others, are definitely definitely less essential like the mini tart pans I want and the blow torch I will inevitably buy in a spontaneous fit of desire some day.  And some items on the list fall somewhere in the middle....

Silpats.  According to the website, the original silicone non stick baking mat, turns any surface into a non-stick surface (still according to the website...) Regardless, I now own two of them, and want nothing more than to bake piles upon piles of cookies.

Never mind my need for new baking sheets, I love these things.  Reusable, easy to wash, and if you take care of them they will probably outlast my ability to churn out cookie after cookie.

All I am saying is get ready for cookies. Lots of them. And scones.   These particular cookies, shown above, are a new one in my repertoire, however I am kinda obsessed with the flavor combination so I imagine they'll kick around for a while.
Banana Walnut Chocolate Ginger Chip Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart (sort of) 

1 cup A.P flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup mashed banana (chunks are ok... in fact prefered)
2 teaspoons vanilla extra
1 cup old fashioned oats
8 oz dark chock chunks
1/2 cup chopped (toasted) walnuts
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger

Bake at 375 for 10-13 minutes

In celebration of Silpats. Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

when life gives you lemons....


I think that is how the saying was supposed to go anyways. Why settle for lemonade when you can have lemon curd and shortbread as well?  I have to say lemon bars may be my favorite dessert. It's a tight race for sure, but they are most definitely my favorite of all things sweet and citrus.   The perfect balance of tart, sweet, and buttery. The trifecta of desserts. A Holy Grail. Triple threat.  Regardless of what you want to call it, they are AMAZING.

I have to say, I am pretty proud of these particular bars. They are fast becoming my go-to signature treat and let me say it's not a bad recipe to have up your sleeve. In my experience, people will do a lot for lemon bars. Including: put up your tent while camping, let you borrow their towel, and cook your brats.  Seems like a pretty fair trade to me...

Unfortunately, I'm not gonna share the recipe for these just yet as it is still in the fine tuning stages, but don't be surprised if it involves a Juicer, a barrel of lemons, and more eggs then you care to think about.

 Also, stay tuned because these little guys may turn into a rehearsal dinner dessert in a few weeks.  Imagine tart pans, lemon curd, maybe some rhubarb, and definitely a sage whipped cream.  Yep, sage...whipped cream..... There are some crazy things going down in my kitchen.  Happy last days of summer everyone!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

this is not altogether related...

Someday when I own my own bookstore/cafe/public venu, I will create an installation like this.  Floating books, good americanos, and warm pastries. What more could you want?