It feels like fall. Cooler temperatures, lower humidity, the frequent presence of breezes. Today it rained all morning, but a cool rain. Not the humid tempestuous storms of summer. And everything seems quieter. On summer nights, the streets in my neighborhood are alive with shouts and conversations and people walking home from bars. This seems to be fading away into a more serious season. A realignment before winter.
It’s interesting to me how much my thoughts about food connect with the weather. They’re inextricable. What I’m eating inside in my kitchen is somehow linked to how the outside world makes me feel. Part of it, of course, is the availability of seasonal produce at the markets. That largely dictates what I make. But it’s also a mood. Tonight I wanted comfort so I made pasta from fresh plum tomatoes. Just garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, and basil, plus salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. It turns a bit colder and I want tomato sauce and carbs.
I also want to put things in pie crusts. In the last week alone, I’ve made a plum galette, a mushroom galette, and a tomato tarte tatin. It’s fall, we’re getting serious, we need baked butter. Or, I do. And the galette is the perfect pie shape, in my opinion. I love the free form, forgiving nature of it. Throw the filling in, wrap the sides over it, and throw it in the oven. It may look like there are a lot of steps to this recipe, but the pate brisee recipe is the easiest thing you’ll ever make. And really, the tart is only a matter of toasting the hazelnuts and cutting the plums. If you get ambitious, you can also make the plum jam, but luckily, I had Matt’s homemade jam in my fridge.
The plums lately have been amazing. Delicious. Gorgeous. Make this before they leave the market and we’re eating cabbage all winter. Make this before things get too serious.
from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2003
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
Pate Brisee (recipe to follow)
1/2 c. finely ground toasted hazelnuts
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tbsp. salt
1 & 1/2 lbs. ripe plums, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. plum jam (recipe to follow if you want to make your own)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in lower third. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pate brissee to 1/8 inch thick, in a roughly circular form. Transfer to a parchment-lined springform pan. You really have a choice here. You could make a rectangular galette on a baking sheet if you so desired.
In a bowl, combine flour, hazelnuts, brown sugar, conrstarch, and salt. Spread to cover the middle of the dough, leaving a 3-inch border all around.
Arrange plums in a circular fashion so that they undulate out from the center. Again, you can alter per shape and look desired. Sprinkle plums with granulated sugar. Fold dough to enclose edges; brush dough with egg wash. Chill 30 minutes in refirigerator.
Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 400 degrees. Bake until pastry is golden brown and plums are softened, about 30 minutes. Before serving, heat jam in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until melted. Let cool a few minutes, then brush evenly over fruit.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse flour and salt. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15 seconds. With machine running, add water in a slow, steady stream; process until dough just holds together. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Wrap well and chill at least 1 hour in refrigerator.
This dough recipe was enough for two tarts for me.
Matt’s Plum Jam
from the brain of Matt Wheeland
3 lbs. firm plums, cut in half and pitted
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
7-1/2 cups sugar
1 (3-ounce) package commercial pectin
Place plums, water, and lemon juice in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil while stirring often. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft. You should have 4 to 5 cups of fruit at the end, and you can base your pectin and sugar needs on that.
Stir in the sugar. Return heat to high and bring back to a rolling boil while constantly stirring. Add pectin and return to a boil while stirring. Continue to stir and boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Let sit for 1 minute, then skim off any foam.
Pour even amounts into sterilized jars, leaving 1/8-inch of space at the top. Wipe rims and seal with sterilized lids. Process in boiling water for 5 minutes.