Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bringing It: Rosh Hashanah Plum Tart

Dear Mouse,

Happy New Year!

Let it be known that I started writing this post as soon as I walked in the door  from the family dinner where I served the item to be discussed below. I think that's a first.

"... the late August abundance of italian prune plums, which i find better cooked than eaten out of hand."
                                    -Sarah Leah Chase, Nantucket Open House Cookbook

(Longtime readers will recall that the above words signify The Boo's unhealthy  obsession with said Chase cookbook, since she committed them to memory upon first reading Chase's "Purple Plum Crunch"   recipe (yes, republished by Ina) years ago. She now cannot mention, eat, or think  about prune plums without muttering this phrase inanely like some kind of fruit mantra. Oh, and lest she forget, The Mouse also likes to helpfully repeat it every time plums come up in conversation (surprisingly often). It's like that South Park when Cartman can't even think of the song "Sail Away" without having to sing the entire thing...? Anyway.)

As I mentioned in my last post and will probably repeat, I am Super Excited to greet Fall. And  I'm just going to keep it real for a second and say I'm maybe more excited than usual this year because, for me, the summer of 2012 .... sucked. Yep.  Winter/spring was great (work! love! income!). Then, come June, all of it, in the words of the great Eddie Izzard, "slowly collapsed, like a flan in a cupboard."
(He was talking about the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but that's basically the same thing as my life.)

Fortunately, I'm a big girl now and I recognize these droughts for what they are: droughts. End of career and personal life? Probably not. Hard? Yes. But there's always a choice. I could have spent all summer lying on my floor complaining to the fan.  Or,  I could do what I did: lie on the floor 60% of the time, and spend the rest in Spiritual Boot Camp. I read kind of every helpful Text I could get my hands on. I went on Yoga Retreat (Thanks Mom!) . I talked to various Advisors.  I - yes - cooked. And..

I re-enrolled in "Shouting Aerobics"!

...which is totally not what it's called but it makes me giggle every time I say it to myself.
And when you're sweating through 60 -75 minutes of cardio while also shouting positive statements like a New Age Cheerleader ("I GIVE! MY BEST! THE REST I LET GO!!"), you feel A) AMAZING, there's no way around it... and B) SO RIDICULOUS that it helps (at least the first time) to keep a little NYC snark on hand for balance. Whatever gets you through the squats.

                                                         Best Plum Tart (pre-cooking)

I think I really thought I was so out of shape that if I went back to class I might actually die. Like, I just flat-out couldn't and wouldn't make it. Then I did. And THEN, after not dying,  I had two Big Thoughts. One was "I am capable of more than I think"...  and,  right on its heels: "... and I should be acting like it more often."

Attention Must Be Paid: The Mother's showstopping version of  Beatty's Chocolate Cake (L), (so light and fluffy yet so deeply chocolatey!) and your take on Smitten Kitchen's Apple Charlotka ("more apples than batter") (R), both of which graced the Rosh Hashanah table. (Why don't I have a picture of The Aunt's cheesecake? Too busy eating.)

What if, I thought, I really, actually, did my best, in everything I do? What if I brought my best game to every task, no matter what, even if my best isn't that amazing on everything?  What would that be like? I decided I am going to spend this Fall finding out. Or, as I put it to Mr. Poet at our lunch the other day:

" I'm making a plum tart for Rosh Hashanah... 
and it is going to be the Best Damn Plum Tart I can possibly make! "  

                                                                   Here it is.

We clinked our (second round of) bloody marys together, and I went off to buy 14 italian prune plums...whichifindbettercoookedthaneatenoutofhandohmygodicantstop.

The experience was a great mix of improvisation and careful attention to detail. I went basically with Dorie Greenspan for both the filling (layer of jam, layer of plums, walnuts and sugar on top) and the crust (her Sweet Tart Dough). But I threw in a little cassis liqueur as homage to Chase. And I mistakenly bought an 11.5-inch pan when the recipe is meant for a 9-inch pan. ("Oh no don't burn it!" - alarmed Mouse Text.) But I decided I would just refrain from preheating too long, and then watched it like a hawk. It worked out great - I like a thin crust.  

Moral of the story? Success! The crust did not burn or tear. The plum juice did not ooze excessively. And it was consumed - almost entirely! - by our discerning family!  And I felt GREAT for having given my all to something and done it to the best of my ability. On one level, you could say it's just a small thing that doesn't have anything to do with Big Life Issues. On another, it makes me realize again how everything, actually, IS connected ... because the feeling of Kicking Ass in one area just makes you want to Bring It in others. A good reminder to always Give Your Best ... then, the Rest You can  Let Go. 

Happy Fall (again),

The Boo

The Boo's Best Plum Tart



Make Dorie's "Sweet Tart Dough" (scroll to bottom of page for recipe). Follow her instructions exactly except the part about the 9-inch pan. For this recipe, you want my happily wrong proportions (11.5 - in tart pan with removable bottom). Crust-making-phobics (of which I am one) will note joyfully that you don't have to roll it out -- just press it into the pan with your fingers and chill that s*t for at least 30 minutes.


12-14 italian prune plums (ok if they're large you'll use fewer, I think I had about 10 in there. If you have extra, roast them and put them on your oatmeal, your chicken, anything.)
1/4 C plum jam (I used Sarabeth's "plum and sour cherry spreadable fruit", but my tart was quite tart. If you like things sweeter, maybe use regular sugary jam)
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp chopped walnuts
A splash (2 tbsp?) of cassis liqueur if you have it
1 tbsp cornstarch

Halve and pit the plums and put them into a bowl. If they're big plums, maybe slice each half again. Toss with cassis and cornstarch and set aside.

Mix walnuts and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.

Take out chilled tart shell and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a silpat, or whatever.

Spoon jam into chilled tart shell and spread across bottom. 

Arrange plum halves or slices in concentric circles on top of the jam, starting at the outer edge of the shell and working your way in.

Scatter sugar/walnut mixture over the fruit.

Cover in plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. 

Now, maybe with like 5 minutes to go, preheat the oven to 425. 

Remove plastic wrap from tart! (I almost forgot to do this), and put baking sheet with tart on it in oven for 20 minutes. (at 10 minutes give it a glance and check speed crust is browning).

After 20 minutes, take it out, tent it loosely with foil (to keep the crust from getting too dark) and put it back in for another 10.  It's done when the crust is a lovely golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. 

Let cool for at least 45 min, then remove outer ring of pan and slide the rest (with bottom) onto platter, Serve warm or at room temp.    

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a walking qvell

overjoyed and overwhelmed at the blessing of my daughters - every day I send my gratitude up above and hope they are up there unable to say it out loud but sending their joy in you both back here - Loretta and Jack - do you see this? amazing, right?

I love these posts - perfect confluence of generations of passion for the art of cooking the love of sharing, the gift and passion for language, and music, poetry sprouting all around and flowering here and now
oh girlies divine enjoying it all