plums

Hot and Fruity Barbecue Chicken

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Around this time of year, when BBQ season is in full gear (at least where I live), you might be in need of a new barbecue sauce.

It gets a little boring to flavor chicken and fish and whatever else you put on the grill the same way over and over.

Besides, with so much fresh, local fruit available, it’s the perfect time for a peach/nectarine/plum based sauce.

So, here one is. It’s a little jazzed up with chili pepper, but is not overly spicy.

Hot and Fruity Barbecue Sauce

  • 4-5 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled

  • 2-4 ripe plums

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 serrano pepper (or other small chili pepper), deseeded and chopped

  • 1-1/4 cups ketchup

  • 1/3 cup orange or other fruit juice

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup honey

  

Remove the pit from the peaches, chop the flesh and place it in a bowl. Cut the plums in half, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh. Add it to the peaches. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute. Add the garlic and chili pepper and cook for another minute. Add the fruit, ketchup, juice, cider vinegar and honey. Stir to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Cook over low-medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thickened. Let cool. Puree in a food processor. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste.

Makes about one quart

 

 

Plum Streusel Cake

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Even though it happens every year, somehow I am always sort of surprised that the Jewish holidays come in such a jumble. We celebrate one holiday on top of another and are busier than ever, observing and celebrating.

Not to mention — LOTS of food. 

I don't want to even count the calories.

And there's still Sukkot to come. 

This year I didn't make my usual Plum Torte for Rosh Hashanah. I needed a change of some of my menu items.

But I still can't resist those once a year Italian-style prune plums (President/Empress plums), so I decided to use them for this Plum Streusel Cake. It turned out to be one of my favorites during the holiday.

If you are still looking for a fabulous dessert for Sukkot -- try this one. Btw, you can make this with any variety of plum. But plum season is almost over, so do take advantage while you can.

 

Plum Streusel Cake

Streusel:

  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Place the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and mix until well blended. Pour in the butter and blend it in. Let stand for 4-5 minutes, then crumble the mixture using your fingers. Set aside.

Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup milk

  • 6-8 Empress plums, sliced, pit removed (President plums, 10-12 Italian prune plums)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make the streusel and set it aside. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon peel in the bowl of an electric mixer. In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones and stir only to combine: do not overbeat. Turn the batter into the prepared cake pan. Top with the plum slices. Cover with the streusel. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the outer ring from the pan and let the cake cool completely.

Makes one cake serving 8

Sweet Soaked Summer Fruit

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A few years ago I learned how to make khoshaf, a Muslim (primarily Egyptian) version of compote -- what my grandma called "kumput," (which she made by cooking dried prunes and apricots with sugar, lemon and cinnamon). Kumput was delicious, but sometimes a bit mushy.

Khoshaf isn't cooked -- you pour simmering, seasoned, sweet syrup over the dried fruit and let it macerate for a while. The fruit becomes tender but never gets soggy.

The khoshaf was such a success that I never went back to "kumput."

So, I figured that the soaking/macerating method would work on fresh fruit too.

I was right.

This simple dish -- cut up fruit steeped in a seasoned, sweetened syrup -- is the perfect ending to a meal on a hot summer day, especially when you want a dairy-free dessert. Of course you could always top the fruit with ice cream or whipped cream. But sorbet would be fine too.

I like it plain, as-is, with a small amount of boiled-down, thickened syrup.

 

SOAKED SUMMER FRUIT

  • 2 pounds stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots), approximately
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean, broken
  • 2 orange slices, about 1/4-inch thick
  • 4-5 slices crystallized ginger

Cut the fruit in half and remove the pits. Cut the fruit into bite-size chunks and place in a dish deep enough to hold the pieces plus liquid. In a saucepan, combine the water, honey, vanilla bean, orange slices and crystallized ginger and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Pour the contents of the saucepan through a strainer over the fruit. Let soak for at least 2 hours. Serve as-is or strain the fluids, boil the fluids for 6-8 minutes or until thickened, and pour over the fruit (or let cool first).

Makes 8 servings

 

 

Plums - as Crisp, not Torte

A few weeks ago I spotted Italian prune plums at Fairway. It was 96 degrees out, in the middle of a heat wave, and here I was looking at the first culinary signs of autumn.

But there they were, the plums, and of course I bought several pounds of them.

My thoughts went immediately to Plum Torte, the iconic Rosh Hashanah dessert. I make one every year.

But those plums are too good to reserve for just one holiday.

So I made these Italian Prune Plum Crisps.

Crisps are a more homey-style dessert than a stately looking Plum Torte. However, I think they are just perfect for the holidays. Easier too.

Or, why not serve both?

 

Plum Crisp with Oat Streusel

Filling:

  • 36 Italian prune plums
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking or rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the plums, brown sugar, lemon juice and flour in a baking dish. Set aside. Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and mix ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients with fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Place the oat mixture over the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is crispy and brown.

Makes 6-8 servings.

 

 

 

Honey Poached Plums

When my kids come for a few days I buy a ton of fruit. And then usually have to shop again during the visit to get more, because there's none left. 

When my kids don't come I buy much less fruit but never run out of it. In fact, the fruit I buy frequently sits there in the fruit bowl, washed and waiting. Then gets too soft for actually eating out of hand and winds up in a banana bread or cold, summer fruit soup or some other recipe that works well when fruit is past its prime.

Like these plums. They looked so good when I bought them. Alas, they were not as compelling this week as the chocolate covered cherries or the chocolate covered almonds or the NoMoo Cookies I bought.

However -- when I poached them in a little honey, added a few cardamom pods and some orange peel, well, then the plums seemed more like real dessert and therefore more welcome. Especially when drizzled with boiled down poaching juices and accompanied by yogurt (plain, mixed with some of those boiled down juices) and chopped, roasted almonds.

So the fruit did get eaten after all. No leftovers.

 

Honey Poached Plums with Yogurt and Roasted Almonds

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 slightly crushed cardamom pods (or use 2" cinnamon stick)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange peel
  • 6 large plums
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

Place the honey, water, cardamom pods and orange peel in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the pit if possible (if not it will be easy to remove after poaching). Place the plum halves in the poaching liquid. Mix in the vanilla extract. Let rest until the liquid cools, at least 2 hours. Remove the plums and set them aside. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil over high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes or until thickened to the consistency of maple syrup. Let cool. Place 2 plum halves per person on dessert plates. Mix a small amount of the boiled down liquid into the yogurt and spoon some of the yogurt next to the plum halves. Drizzle the plums with the remaining poaching liquid. Scatter the nuts on top of the plums and yogurt.

Makes 6 servings

 

 

 

 

Plum Crumble with Coconut and Bread Crumb Crust

I saw the most beautiful Empress plums at Fairway supermarket and couldn’t resist them. Empress are the ones that look like giant Italian prune plums and they’re sometimes called President plums. In my opinion they are the best variety for pies and crisps.  I bought several pounds because they have a short season and frankly I was surprised there were any left.   Got my freezer packed with a plum pie and a plum cake plus a couple of plum crumble/crisps, including this one:   Plum Crumble with Coconut and Bread Crumb Crust      Filling:     2-1/2 pounds Empress plums or Italian prune plums  1/3 cup sugar  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon  1 tablespoon lemon juice  2 tablespoons all-purpose flour     Topping:  6 tablespoons unsalted butter  2 cups fresh bread crumbs  1/2 cup grated coconut  1/3 cup brown sugar  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon  1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg  pinch of salt        Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and halve the plums and remove the pits. Cut the plums into pieces. Combine the plums with the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and lemon juice and mix well. Stir in the flour and place the fruit mixture into a baking dish. Set aside. Make the topping: Melt the butter and set it aside in a bowl. Place the bread crumbs in a bowl. Add the coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the melted butter. Mix to coat the crumbs. Sprinkle over the plums. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crusty. Serve warm or at room temperature.     Makes 8 servings      

I saw the most beautiful Empress plums at Fairway supermarket and couldn’t resist them. Empress are the ones that look like giant Italian prune plums and they’re sometimes called President plums. In my opinion they are the best variety for pies and crisps.

I bought several pounds because they have a short season and frankly I was surprised there were any left. 

Got my freezer packed with a plum pie and a plum cake plus a couple of plum crumble/crisps, including this one:

Plum Crumble with Coconut and Bread Crumb Crust

 

Filling:

 

2-1/2 pounds Empress plums or Italian prune plums

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 

Topping:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated coconut

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

 

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and halve the plums and remove the pits. Cut the plums into pieces. Combine the plums with the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and lemon juice and mix well. Stir in the flour and place the fruit mixture into a baking dish. Set aside. Make the topping: Melt the butter and set it aside in a bowl. Place the bread crumbs in a bowl. Add the coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the melted butter. Mix to coat the crumbs. Sprinkle over the plums. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crusty. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Makes 8 servings

 

 

Plum and Pear Crisp

Something old, something new.   
 No, not a wedding item. Just a plain old dessert. Plum and Pear Crisp. Because I wanted to use the last of the late summer season’s prune-plums and the first of autumn’s new pears. I just happened to have some of both on hand. 
 Such a homey, comforting way to transition from one season to the next. 
     
     
    Plum and Pear Crisp  

 Crisp top 
 2 ripe pears (Bartlett, Comice or Anjou) 
 10-12 prune plums 
 1/3 cup raisins 
 1/3 cup sugar 
 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
 1 tablespoon lemon juice 

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the Crisp top and set it aside. Peel, core and deseed the pears and cut them into chunks. Place them in a bowl. Cut the plums in half, remove the pit and cut the halves again into halves. Add to the pears. Add the raisins, sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss the ingredients and place in a baking dish. Cover with the Crisp top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is crispy and browned. Makes 6 servings 

 Crisp top 

  
 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
 
 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
 
 1/3 cup chopped almonds 
 1/2 cup brown sugar
 
 1/8 teaspoon salt 
 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 

 In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, almonds, brown sugar and salt and mix to combine the ingredients. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients until they are crumbly. Spread evenly over the fruit.

Something old, something new. 

No, not a wedding item. Just a plain old dessert. Plum and Pear Crisp. Because I wanted to use the last of the late summer season’s prune-plums and the first of autumn’s new pears. I just happened to have some of both on hand.

Such a homey, comforting way to transition from one season to the next.

 

 

Plum and Pear Crisp

Crisp top

2 ripe pears (Bartlett, Comice or Anjou)

10-12 prune plums

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the Crisp top and set it aside. Peel, core and deseed the pears and cut them into chunks. Place them in a bowl. Cut the plums in half, remove the pit and cut the halves again into halves. Add to the pears. Add the raisins, sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss the ingredients and place in a baking dish. Cover with the Crisp top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is crispy and browned. Makes 6 servings

Crisp top

1/2 cup old fashioned oats


1/3 cup all-purpose flour


1/3 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup brown sugar


1/8 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, almonds, brown sugar and salt and mix to combine the ingredients. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients until they are crumbly. Spread evenly over the fruit.

Purple Plum Crisp

To me, small purple plums mean autumn. I always associate them with September, when the bins in the supermarkets fill with these and the first leaves on the trees begin to yellow out. When Rosh Hashanah is near and Jewish cooks everywhere in America are planning to bake a holiday Plum Cake.

There are plums all summer long of course. Red ones, black ones, green ones. But Italian prune plums, small and purple, are always the last, a harbinger that the season is about to change.

But it’s only August now! Is everything just rushing by for me?

Is it rushing by for you?

Or are these plums here early because of the weather?

Or maybe we’re just lucky.

Whatever the reason, I caught the first binful a few days ago and bought myself several pounds of these. They’re the best plums to bake with because they’re not as sweet as eating-out-of-hand kinds and besides, they are freestone, which means the pit comes out easily, so they’re a cinch to cook with. And, of course, you can do a whole lot with them beyond Plum Cake, although that recipe is always part of my fall repertoire.

Here’s my first recipe of the next season, a fragrant Plum Crisp. 

Purple Plum Crisp

  • 2 pounds Italian prune plums
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons minute tapioca
  • crust:
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup bran flakes or raisin bran flakes
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and dry the plums, cut them in half and remove the pits. Slice the plums into smaller pieces. Mix the plums with the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and tapioca. Place the fruit mixture into a baking dish and set aside.

To make the crust: Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Crush the bran flakes slightly and put them in a bowl. Add the oats, nuts, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the melted butter. Mix until the dry the ingredients are covered with the melted butter. Place the cereal mixture over the fruit. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the crust is crispy and golden brown.

Makes 6-8 servings

Poached Plums, a Quick Dessert for the Holidays or Whenever

Italian style prune plums are now bountiful at the market and I am thrilled about that even though whenever I see the first batch I know that summer is really over.

These plums are just okay to eat our of hand but give their all if you cook them. Fortunately, you can make them into some fabulous dessert in less than 20 minutes. So, even though tonight is a holiday for me, I am off to the local farmer’s market at 10:00 this morning to get a few pounds and poach them.

Prune plums aren’t around for long. Only through September. My Mom used to love them, especially if they were stewed and served with a thick syrup. Her mother served that dish frequently when we came to visit and my mother always wondered how she could find the plums to cook. It wasn’t until years went by that my grandma confessed she just opened a can of Del Monte’s.

I also LOVE stewed prune plums. Plain or with ice cream or sorbet. Here’s a recipe. You can see how easy it is and how good this is as a last-minute dessert. It’s easy for me to find lemongrass, so I use that as a seasoning, but orange or lemon slices make a nice substitute. Here’s the recipe from my book, Hip Kosher.

By the way, if you have the time, strain the poaching fluid and boil it down until it is thick and syrupy. Great “sauce” for the plums.

Clove and Lemongrass Poached Plums

1/2 cup sugar

16 whole cloves

outer leaves from 1 large stalk lemongrass OR 1 slice fresh orange or lemon

2 pounds Italian prune plums

Place the sugar, 1-1/2 cups water, cloves and lemongrass leaves in a large saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer the ingredients for 10 minutes. Add the plums. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the fruit skins split and the plums are tender. Let the plums cool in the syrup. Serve plums plain, with some of the poaching liquid (strain it first) or with ice cream or sorbet. Makes 4-6 servings

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