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July 26th, 2011

Cookbook Travels: Plum Good

from Kate

I recently came across some plum recipes which intrigued me: a Plum Berry Crisp from Gourmet and a Plum Galette from Martha Stewart, pictured below. I’ve never made a dessert with plums and the Santa Rosa variety are currently making a big show at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. Whenever I find an unfamiliar item at the Farmers’ Market, I turn to Amelia Saltsman’s wonderful Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook for tips and ideas.

Amelia’s book has a perfect recipe for my first cooking adventure with Santa Rosa Plums, so this week’s Cookbook Travels will keep us close to home. Plum Crisp with Cornmeal Topping can be found on page 178 and here. Since I’m going to be serving this dessert at an outdoor picnic before a concert at the Hollywood Bowl — a favorite Los Angeles tradition — I’m going to vary the recipe a bit and make the crisp in individual ramekins for easier transport and serving.

First, the plums are cut and arranged so the pieces are packed together and ‘somewhat’ vertical. Then they are drizzled with warm honey and dessert wine and baked for 20 minutes.

While the plums are baking, the topping ingredients — which include crystallized ginger, lemon zest and brown sugar — are mixed. Using a pastry blender or fork, the butter is cut into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles course grains with some big lumps. The topping is then sprinkled evenly over the fruit and returned to the oven for 40 minutes. When the ‘lumps’ melt, they create the caramelized browning that makes the topping so tasty. The dessert is ready when the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling and ‘syrupy.’ The ramekin variation turned out well though I should note that it needed less cooking time once it went back into the oven and the fruit was maybe a bit more syrupy as it had a tendency to bubble over the topping. I served the plum crisps with ice cream, but you could use any variation of heavy cream. Delicious!

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