Plum Tart + Stir Giveaway

Plum Tart // Not Without Salt

“Being sick is supposed to come along with grand realizations about What Really Matters, but I don’t know. I think deep down we’re already aware of what’s important and what’s not. Which isn’t to say that we always live our lives accordingly. We snap at our spouses and curse the traffic and miss the buds pushing up from the ground. But we know. We just forget to know sometimes.” – Stir

Jessica Fechtor, the lovely and brilliant author of Stir, nearly died. What she did with that experience is part of what makes her so lovely and brilliant; she wrote a stunning book about life, death, recovery, and joy. Yes, there’s food in it too and we’ll get to that in a moment but what I loved about reading this book is that in the midst of teetering so closely to death and fighting her way back to life, she found her way through the mundane, mostly. The things that we so often take for granted.

“Being sick is like walking around with a microscope strapped to your face at all times with your own body squished beneath the slide. You don’t look away, at first because you can’t – you’re too sick – and then because you’re afraid that if you do, you might miss a symptom or a sign and die. That cooking shifted my attention away from myself was a tremendous relief. In the kitchen, I got to care again about the small stuff that’s not supposed to get to you, but does when you’re normal and well. Now, when the biscuits burned, it was my privilege to care. The twinge of annoyance as I whisked them from the oven was proof I was getting better.”

In the midst of the final stretch of summer, the one that seems the busiest, I am so grateful for the reminder to appreciate the beauty in the mundane. In the everyday tasks that we complete that feel heavy, annoying, and weighty and yet if for some reason those tasks, the ones that ground us, were taken away we’d miss them for the normalcy they represent.

Lately, Gabe and I have talked so often about how we can teach our kids gratitude and true appreciation for what we have without withholding from them. It seems as if, especially for kids, that the only way to appreciate what you if is if you don’t have it. The lunch you didn’t finish a couple hours ago sure looks better now when real hunger sets in. The toy I thought I didn’t want sure looks more fun now that it’s in my sister’s hands.

We have the ability to feed our children, clothe them, and tuck them into a warm bed every night and for that we are so grateful but how will they know that that is a gift if it’s all they ever have?

Plum Tart // Not Without Salt Plum Tart // Not Without Salt

Unfortunately or fortunately I think really the answer lies within us, the parents. I believe that we are their greatest examples of how to life joyfully which I think is the same thing as living with gratitude.

So back to Jess, and her words, of which I am very grateful because she reminds me to appreciate not just the big things that we all know are important – family, health, love, and all those wonderful things – but also and maybe especially the small ones.

Like the ability to go to the farmer’s market with my three littles, stopping to listen to each musician play their tune. The downtrodden faces when I deny them ice cream but say a resounding YES to stuffing their bellies with warm berries. And the sight of the rosy plum, speckled, tight skinned and sweet-tart.

At home I use a few simple ingredients to turn those plums into a tart. They wrinkle and slump in the oven, show off their flavor as they mingle with cool custard and rest along a buttery crust. I follow Jess’s instructions mostly except for the addition of almond extract because for some reason I have an aversion, and I remember our phone call. The one where we talked about this tart, the process of writing a book, being a parent and life.

It is with deep gratitude that I hold this book, read her words, enjoy this incredible tart, and get to live another day, filled with the beautiful mundane.

A winner has been contacted! Thanks so much. Jess has so graciously agreed to send one of you a signed copy of StirJust leave a comment to enter and I will pick a winner on Monday and coordinate the details (U.S. only please and thank you!)

Plum Tart // Not Without Salt

Plum Tart

Slightly adapted from Stir

Serves 8 to 10
Feel free to use 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract as Jessica recommends. I’m sure it’s lovely – if you like almond extract. :) Also, this really is suppose to be an Italian prune plum tart and oh how I do love those but could not find them so I opted for a different sort of plum and had incredibly delicious results. I couldn’t agree more when she writes in Stir, “Prune plums are nice enough straight from the tree, but really, they’re for cooking. heat emboldens them. They hold their form beautifully in the oven and emerge plump with juices, deep purple and sweet.” I think the same can be said for any type of plum and apricots too. I mean I don’t even bother with those unless they are jam or cozied up under a buttery crust.

 

Pastry:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes, like Maldon

 

Custard:

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch salt

10 – 13 Italian prune plums, or other variety, pitted and halved

 

 

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Generously butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan or springform pan.

For the pastry: In a large bowl stir together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Add the flour and salt and stir until just combined. Press this dough into the pan to form an even layer along the bottom and up the sides.

Bake the crust until pale golden along the edges and just puffed, about 13 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, just long enough so the custard won’t curdle once it’s poured in.

For the custard: Whisk together the sugar and flour in a medium bowl then whisk in the cream, egg, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until very smooth.

Place the plums cut-side down into the cooled pastry in two concentric circles, with one in the center. Pour the custard into the tart around the fruit. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the custard is just set and the top blushes with spots of golden brown. Cool before serving.

 

 

  • 152 Comments /
  • Permalink

Black and Blue Semifreddo with Toasted Oat Crumble

Black and Blue Semifreddo // Not Without Salt Black and Blue Semifreddo // Not Without Salt

Song of the Builders

by Mary Oliver

On a summer morning

I sat down

on a hillside

to think about God -

a worthy pastime.

Near me, I saw

a single cricket;

it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.

How great was its energy,

how humble its effort.

Let us hope

it will always be like this,

each of us going on

in our inexplicable ways

building the universe.

Black and Blue Semifreddo // Not Without Salt

After enough pleading Grandma would agree to let me go visit Grandpa in the barn. I didn’t grow up on the farm so visiting the cows was thrilling, until she made me wrap plastic bags around my shoes so I wouldn’t get them dirty. For some reason that was enough to stall my trip out to the barn to visit Grandpa while did his morning milking.

I’ve grown up since then and relished the opportunity to go get my shoes dirty and visit some cows a couple weeks ago. The city horizon faded into rolling hills dotted with barns; some run down and out of use and others, like the ones on the Werkhoven Dairy, filled with milk-producing cows.

While on the farm we learned that cow is queen. Andy Werkhoven along with his son and daughter spend their time managing the comfort and care of their cows. Ultimately every decision they make is for that purpose because if she isn’t happy they are out of a job. “The more comfortable cows are, the more milk they make. There is no drug in the world that will produce more milk if it’s not a healthy or comfortable cow.” And in farm life, where the margins are so slim, every drop counts.

Black and Blue Semifreddo // Not Without Salt

Black and Blue Semifreddo // Not Without Salt

Black and Blue Semifreddo // Not Without Salt

I walked away from our farm tour with my mind reeling. From the great lengths they go to care for their cows; large airy barns with a calculated mix of grains and corn, sand beds for better aeration that get cleaned every time the cows go to the parlor to get milked (three times a day), to the astonishing science behind their digester project where they take the waste from the farm and turn it into something good.

“The anaerobic digester utilizes manure from the cows and co-digests pre-consumer food waste to make energy (enough to produce electricity for as many as 300 homes), thereby keeping the air and water clean, protecting salmon streams, keeping the dairy operating and creating Grade A compost.”

For me, the most poignant part of this trip was to have a deeper appreciation for the cream, thick and pale yellow, I pour into my coffee every morning. For the butter I slather on bread with great abandon and the whole milk that cools our oatmeal or softens our cereal.

The day after our trip I found myself in a familiar spot; the grocery store. Standing in front of the milk case I stood in awe and admiration for what was in front of me. As a mom of three young milk drinking children I so often grumble at the price of a gallon of milk. That day I reached for the gallon produced by a local dairy and appreciated it deeply because I know the care, the cost and the passion that went into it.

Black and Blue Semifreddo // Not Without Salt Black and Blue Semifreddo // Not Without Salt

Farming is an incredibly difficult job, one that must be fueled by passion because there’s no fame, no accolades, no large paychecks coming to the hands of the farmer who operates a small family dairy but we need them desperately.

I started this post with Song of the Builders by Mary Oliver. It’s been running through my mind over the last few weeks when I call into question the value of my day to day work. Whether it’s putting away the dishes, again, loading yet another load into the laundry, writing up a recipe, or snapping a photo of my lunch. When the “whys?” whisper in my ear I reply, “I’m building the universe.” Because in some way I am. We all are.

These farmers are too. Behind the plastic carton that carries our milk is a family who passionately cares for their cows and puts all of their effort into every drop because they too are building the universe. We rarely think about calf nutrition, corn crops, cooling down the herd in this crazy heat we’ve been having, where the waste goes, but the farmers do.

When Shauna asked the farmers at the end of our day with them; “What’s the one thing you want us to tell everybody?” They responded, “Drink milk and appreciate where it comes from.”

Consuming dairy has never been hard for me. As a granddaughter of a dairy farmer I’ve rarely shied away from cream and butter but now I hold it with higher esteem, appreciating its value and all that happens in order to ensure that my coffee is sufficiently capped, my cookies are crisp with butter and my summer berries have a billowy cream-filled bed to land

Black and Blue Semifreddo // Not Without Salt

This post was sponsored by Washington Dairy. As always, the words, images and recipes are mine.

If you are interested in learning more about the Werkhoven Farm or more on Sustainable Farming check out these great links for more information:

Sustainable Land

Cow Care

Werkhoven Dairy

The Digester

Black and Blue Semifreddo with Toasted Oat Crumble

 

Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups blueberries

2 cups blackberries

zest and juice from 1 lemon

4 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extracto)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

 

 

Lightly spray a loaf pan with pan spray and line it with plastic wrap. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat add 1/2 cup sugar in an even layer. Watch it closely as it melts and caramelizes. Carefully stir the sugar as the edges start to melt. Continue to caramelize until all of the sugar is melted. It should be a deep copper color and will smoke a bit. If some of the sugar starts to get too dark you can remove the pan from the heat, give it a stir and then continue to cook.

Add 1 cup of each of the blueberries and the blackberries. This will make the caramel seize and harden. Reduce the heat to low and cook until all of the caramel has once again melted, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in the remaining berries.

Set this aside to cool.

In the bowl of a mixer whisk the 4 eggs until they lighten. On medium high speed slowly pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to whip until very light, frothy and about tripled in volume.

Whip the cream with the vanilla seeds or extract to soft peaks.

Add the slightly cooled berry caramel mixture to the cream and mix using the whisk. Add the eggs and mix, again with the whisk, until just combined. Take care not to knock too much of the air out.

Add this to the prepared loaf pan and freeze for 4 hours or until firm.

Crumble

1 cup flour

1/4 cup oats

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 stick/ 6 tablespoons cold butter cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and sugar, Add the butter and blend until the mixture holds in small clumps when squeezed.

Add the crumble to the baking sheet. Pinch together some of the dough so there are some large pieces in there too.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve the semifreddo on a bed of crumble.

Cap with whipped cream if you’d like.

  • 16 Comments /
  • Permalink