Friday, August 26, 2016

Plum Torte

At last week's farmers market, Camas Swale Farm had these gorgeous purple plums, a welcome sight because I've been baking a lot of plum tortes from this New York Times classic recipe by Marian Burros.

The recipe starts with a standard cake batter of creamed butter and sugar. Then you pile on plum halves, sprinkle with a bit of sugar and an hour later you have the most perfectly moist cake infused with fragrant plum juices. You can serve it as a dessert or an afternoon teacake and with just a little bit of rationalization, as breakfast fare because of all the fruit. Be prepared to start baking your second one as soon as you cut into the first.

Marian Burros’s Plum Torte
¾ cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
 Pinch of salt (optional)
2 eggs
24 halves pitted purple plums
Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon for topping

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well. (I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract at this point.)

3. Spoon the batter into a spring form of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with (about) 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon. (I just used a teaspoon of raw sugar and no lemon juice or cinnamon).

4. Bake one hour, approximately, until the top is brown and a fork come out of the cake clean. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream.

5. To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Creamy Kohlrabi Slaw

Don't let the heat deter you from shopping at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, because the best antidote to hot weather is deliciously flavorful produce that requires no cooking. A case in point is this lovely kohlrabi from Camas Swale Farm. I love kohlrabi grilled or cooked in a curry, but it is also deliciously refreshing raw in a slaw. I salted it first to release some of the moisture, and then tucked it in a creamy dressing full of tarragon and chives. This was a great addition to a cold dinner of salads and smoked fish, a meal we'll be repeating until the temperatures drop low enough to imagine turning back on the stove.

Creamy Kohlrabi Slaw
4 kohlrabi
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives and tarragon (or experiment with other fresh herbs)

Trim the kohlrabi generously to remove any woody exterior, slice thinly and cut the slices into julienne. Toss the kohlrabi in the salt and leave in a strainer over a bowl for about 15 minutes to drain out the moisture. Meanwhile, mix together all the remaining ingredients in your serving bowl (if you like, save a few chives for garnish). Once a few tablespoons of moisture have been released from the kohlrabi, squeeze it to release additional moisture and then fold it into the creamy dressing. Garnish with reserved chives. Serve immediately or chill to serve later. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Roasted Pepper and Onion Toasts

Sweet peppers and onions don't get much prettier than these varieties from Camas Swale Farm at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market.

These long, red specimens seemed made for each other. My son has recently discovered that roasted red peppers are basically parent sanctioned candy, so they've been making a regular appearance at our dinner table.

A handy tool for deseeding and deveining these narrow peppers is one that might just be lurking in your cutlery drawer, threatening sleepy cereal eaters: the grapefruit spoon.

I roasted them together in the toaster oven (too hot to turn on the real oven these days) with a lot of olive oil and a few sprigs of marjoram.

We ate the resulting caramelized goodness simply piled on slices of toasted baguette. On a hot day, these toasts plus some cold gazpacho makes a perfect dinner.

Roasted Pepper and Onion Toasts
4-8 sweet peppers
1-2 onions
olive oil
several springs of marjoram or thyme
sliced bread

Seed and slice the peppers into 1 inch strips. Peel and slice the onions into eighths. Preheat a toaster oven to 450 degrees. Toss the vegetables in several slugs of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast in a toasting oven pan with the sprigs of herbs, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, until caramelized and slightly charred. Transfer the caramelized vegetables to a bowl. Rub the bread slices in the remaining oil in the pan, flip and drizzle on a little more olive oil if desired. Toast until lightly brown on the edges. Pile the caramelized peppers and onions onto the toast and serve.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Miso-Glazed Eggplant

This week Fair Valley Farm will be at the Fairmount Farmers Market with their pastured meat, along with gorgeous fresh produce of Camas Swale Farm and lovely flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company.

Our favorite eggplant recipe these days comes from the Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes cookbook and it's dead easy. Halve eggplants (Japanese or otherwise), bake them a bit (and you can do this in a toaster oven if it feels too hot to turn on your real oven), then slather with a miso and mirin paste and bake some more. This makes a substantial vegetarian entree, and is also a nice accompaniment to other Japanese-inspired dishes. With some Fair Valley Farm boneless pork chops, we made Melissa Clark's recipe for breaded and fried tonkatsu, which she points out is essentially the same and German weiner schnitzel, a dish of my youth. To round out the meal we had crunchy quick pickles (tsukemono) and sweet and sour zucchini.

Miso-Glazed Eggplant

4 Japanese eggplants or 2 regular eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp neutral oil
1/4 cup red miso
2 Tbsp mirin
sesame seeds

1. Heat the oven (or toaster oven) to 450 degrees. 

2. Slick the eggplant halves all over with oil and arrange them cut side up on a baking sheet. Roast for 10-15 minutes until they are just wilted, a very light roast. 

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the miso and miring in a small bowl.

4. Smear the cut side of the eggplants with the miso mixture and roast until the eggplants are tender and the miso is browned and bubbling, about 10 minutes longer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.