September, 2007

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For Want of a Tart Pan
Sep 25th, 2007



Come August and September of each year our neighbors become very generous with the produce. Apart from the expected deliveries of bulbous zucchini, we can usually count on receiving some tomatoes, Asian pears, figs, and plums. This year the figs didn't materialize, as despite our neighbor's best efforts (which included blowing a whistle every half hour all day long, wild clapping, and tying pieces of paper to his fig tree) a herd of small birds decimated the fig crop within a several block radius of our house. But the plums, the plums came in abundance. Apparently the birds are finicky, who knew?

So last week found me rifling through my cookbook collection for good plum recipes, and declaiming loudly to all who could hear me (my husband) about my lack of a tart pan.

"Why this looks good," I'd say, "if only I had a tart pan."

"Oohh, what about this one. Nope. Don't have a tart pan."

"Oh look, I could make this one... if I had a TART PAN!!!"

Eventually my declaiming and thumping of heavy cookbooks got so bad that Jim patiently suggested we go down the hill and make a trip to a local shopping pavillion as he needed some batteries and maybe while we were there I could look for a damn TART PAN and perhaps QUIT WHINING ABOUT IT!

Of course there was nary a tart pan to be found within a twenty minute radius of our house, but by the time I got home I had calmed down and remembered that I did in fact have a Bundt Pan (!) and perhaps there existed somewhere in the vast reach of the internet a recipe for plum something or other that did not involve a tart pan.

And that is how I came to make this cake. And it was good.



Ian in particular liked the frosting.



Who needs a tart pan anyway?


Spicy Plum Cake

2 cup pitted and quartered Italian plums, cooked until soft and cooled
1 cup Unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup Granulated sugar
4 Eggs
3 cup Sifted flour
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground cloves
1/2 tsp. Ground nutmeg
2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 cup Milk
1 cup Walnuts, finely chopped

Frosting:
1/4 cup Unsalted butter
1/2 lb powdered sugar.
1 1/2 tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa
Pinch salt
2 To 3 tablespoons strong, hot Coffee
3/4 tsp. vanilla


Prepare the plums and set aside.

Butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until mixture is very light.

Sift flour with spices and soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk.
Beat only to incorporate the ingredients.

Stir in cooked plums and walnuts.

Turn into prepared pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 1 hour, or until cake begins to shrink from sides of pan. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes before unmolding onto a rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting: Cream butter. Add sugar and cocoa gradually, stirring until well blended. Add salt. Stir in coffee, a little at a time. Add just enough to make the frosting a good spreading consistency. Beat until fluffy and add vanilla, then frost cake.

-http://www.azcakerecipes.com/spicy_italian_pruneplum_cake_recipe-823.htm
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The Best Salad
Sep 15th, 2007



Cooking Light's September issue celebrates their 20th anniversary, and they editors have compiled a list of their favorite recipes over the past twenty years in various categories. This is their favorite salad recipe, green and yellow beans topped with vinegary tomatoes, basil, and feta. I think calling it a salad is kind of arbitrary - I'm not exactly sure what separates a vegetable side from a vegetable salad - but regardless it's easy, makes good use of end of the summer ingredients, and had me tilting my bowl to slurp up the last of the vinegary dressing.

The only changes I made from the recipe as given below were to snap the beans into bite sized pieces rather than serving them whole, and substituting lemon basil for the Italian kind, just because that's what I had on hand. It's a great substitution though, providing both spicy basil and tangy lemon notes to the dish.

The salad goes well as a side for fish or roast chicken, and the leftovers are good for lunch with some brown rice or barley.


Green and Yellow Bean Salad w/ Chunky Tomato Dressing & Feta

4 cups water
3/4 pound wax beans, trimmed
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
2 cups chopped tomato
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp extravirgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese


Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook the beans in boiling water for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.

Combine tomato and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a bowl. Divide beans evenly among 8 plates. Top each serving with 1/4 cup tomato mixture. Spinkle each serving with 1 tbsp sliced basil and 1 tbsp cheese.

-Cooking Light, September 2007
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