Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Plum Deal

After making the plum upside-down cake last week, I was eager to cook with those golden little fruits again, and I had my eyes fixed on a recipe for a spiced plum crisp.

Of course, canning and preserving come first, so my baking plans kept getting pushed back day by day. And the pile of plums started to dwindle as I developed the habit of tucking one into my lunch each day.

By this evening, though, I couldn't wait any longer.

After making the pear-cardamom chutney and downing an almost completely local dinner of peach salsa with local tortilla chips, followed by a satisfying panzanella using the last hard slices of the neighborhood bakery's house bread, I returned to the cutting board to halve and pit the rest of the plums.

While the plums bobbed in a spiced wine mixture, I worked butter into the oats and spices for the topping. I ended up with just the right amount of plum halves to line a pie plate and more than enough oat topping to cover them all.

Half an hour or so in the oven was all it took to produce a beautiful dish:


I truly regretted not having some vanilla ice cream from the local dairy on hand as that would have been the perfect accompaniment. Instead, I drizzled a little whole milk on top, just to add a touch of creaminess. It wasn't nearly as satisfying as ice cream, but what can you do?

Still, knowing that the plums, the grains, the butter, and the wine were all locally grown or produced gave me plenty of satisfaction, as well as a happy mouth and stomach.

And that's a pretty good deal to me.


Spiced Plum Crisp

Mr. Clean sent me this recipe on a whim a couple of years ago, and I have no idea of the original source. (Care to chime in, sir?) It sounded awfully tempting, but until this year, I hadn't been able to find plums at the farmers' market. As you might guess, I modified the recipe, changing the spices to please my palate, using the white wine I had open instead of port, and substituting oats for flour in the topping. I can't complain! But do make sure you have good vanilla ice cream on hand... my only regret is that I didn't do that.

2 pounds fresh plums, pitted and halved (quartered if larger)
2 T maple sugar
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 T flour (I used spelt)
1/3 c port or sweet white wine
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c maple sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
8 T unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a baking pan (original recipe calls for 9" x 12" pan; I used a round pie plate but used fewer plums).

Toss plums in a medium-size bowl with the sugar, spices, flour, and wine. Layer plum halves, cut side up, in the prepared pan.

Mix together oats, salt, baking powder, sugar, and cardamom in a medium bowl. Cut butter into the oats (or work it in with your fingers) until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle topping over the plums and bake for 30-40 minutes, until plums are bubbling and topping is golden brown.

Spoon into serving bowls and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8

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