California Eatin'

Stone Fruit Fun and a Skillet Plum Cake

Summer, Sweet | June 26, 2016 | By

Ok so its official the farmers market is full of just about everything you can imagine including the stone fruits.  My favorite thing this week are the plums.  So many varieties, the sweet and tart flavor are the perfect combination.   We also have a lot of pluots or plumcots.  They look like plums and are plum apricot crosses, but they are mostly plum.  They herald from Modesto California and they are delicious and not to be missed.  Read more about pluots and all the varieties you might see here.  This plum dessert was a little something special for my Italian sweetie as it had good bit of almond extract and went great with morning coffee.  I used Elephant heart plums which are larger, heart shaped, dark purple on the outside with dark red purple flesh-look for them they are amazing!  Read more about plum varieties descriptions from UC Davis here.

plum bowl

There is just something about baking anything in my cast iron pan that I just love.  This pan is such a work horse if you don’t have one get one and get to know them.  I will admit right out that I am not a baker, but I do bake.  As a cook, when I bake I follow a recipe to the “T” the first time and then tweak from then on out.  So this was not my first inspiration from the amazing Farm House Rules show recipes.  That Nancy Fuller is hilarious and grounded and the other day she made a rustic plum tart with ginger that looked amazing.  Her show calms me and soothes my hungry soul-not going to lie I am loving the super mom and grandma focus these days.   
One of the recent shows I caught talked about not catering menus to children every day.  Keeping birthdays special but exposing children to a variety of foods.  This is a hot topic and as a child nutritionist something I talk about everyday.  I like to call it food training and I speak of it as a job.  A job to transmit the joy and love of food-all foods to our children.  Creating the love of food starts at our own table.  So keep on keeping on with the great foods, sitting and connecting, and exploring the seasons and the markets together families!

Plum tart

This cake recipe actually came from a google image search and led me to Serious Eats and a recipe from Maria Del Mar Sacasa; 30-Minute Skillet Plum Cake.  This cake was a cinch to make, quick and delicious.  It is heavy on the almond extract but with plums that is really nice because they have a subtle taste.   This cake is perfect alone, but pairs nicely with a butter pecan or vanilla ice cream or yogurt.  Next time I will try it with peaches and vanilla extract-should be amazing!

A special thanks to “mother nature” my farm girl friend soon to be family for sharing her plums with me.  As a side note for the home orchardist, pluots are a great backyard orchard tree and you can read more about having them here.

Wonderful Winter Dessert: Pear Apple-Cranberry Crisp

Fall, Sweet, Winter | December 12, 2015 | By

apples pears orange zest

Winter weather is setting in here in northern California and warm cozy desserts to share with friends are on the menu.  My latest creation was a pear, apple cranberry crisp that was simple to make and my friends were just plain crazy about. 

Pear apple cran

A crisp is not a difficult dessert to create-and that is why I love them.  The truth is I had a bunch of Bartlett pears getting really ripe so I took advantage of them along with a big bowl of apples from the farmers market.  Combined with a little leftover thanksgiving hankering for cranberry and some dried cranberries from the pantry we had a dish. 

pan apple pear crisp

For many the ingredients for a crisp are at hand.  Seasonal fruits can be used for the filling and toppings usually include butter, flour and sugar combined with oats, nuts and spices.  I like to lead with the oats and include some wheat flour because nobody misses the white flour.  I also like to add in more nuts (there’s those a-monds again) and spices. 

apple pear crisp

The house will smell amazing and your friends will swoon.  Top with healthful plain or vanilla Greek yogurt or a scoop of REAL vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Pear Apple-Cranberry Crisp
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Ingredients
  1. 3 large Bartlett Pears
  2. 3 Granny Smith Apples
  3. 1 cup Dried Cranberries
  4. 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  5. 1 orange, zested and juiced
  6. 1/4 cup flour
  7. 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Oatmeal Topping
  1. 2 cups oatmeal
  2. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  3. 1/2 cup wheat flour
  4. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  6. 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and sliced (optional)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  9. 1 stick unsalted butter (cold)
Instructions
  1. Preheat Oven to 375 deg F
  2. Peel, core and slice apples and pears and place in a large bowl. To the bowl add the cranberries, orange juice and zest, lemon juice and zest, flour and spices. Stir gently to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl combine oatmeal topping ingredients except the butter. Stir to combine.
  4. Cut cold butter into slices and work with a pastry blender to mix into dry ingredients. The goal is to have little pieces of butter distributed throughout the mixture. Pour fruit mixture into 13"x9"x2" glass baking dish top liberally with oatmeal topping.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes over a baking sheet (to catch any bubble overs). Check and rotate and bake up to 15 minutes longer until browned on top and bubbling.
Notes
  1. Note: You can substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugars and feel free to use even less sweetener. I have even used tablespoons of maple syrup on a crisp when I was covering super sweet summer stone fruits.
  2. Some may substitute coconut oil for butter and that works well also.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Adapted from Ina Garten
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