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Today is National Eat Your Jello Day. It’s a big sale day (with a mathematical sounding name that sadly has nothing to do with math, other than perhaps, economics) on a HUGE shopping site. Side note: just bought my first Kindle, WOO!
And it is this guy’s birthday. I kind of have a big squishy spot in my soul belonging to the marvelous sparkle angel that is
Richard-Simmons-2
Richard Effing Simmons.

This sweet glitter doodle is 65 years awesome today, and I just realized that he has been a celebrity my entire life. He had his own show when I was quite small, has been a resident ofPort Charles, and built a healthy living and eating empire that thrives today.

I have largely ignored his principled approach to eating to establish my own pastry regimen, but whatever. My parlor trick is that I can nutritionally justify pretty much any food. That said, I think if I handed Richard one of these, he’d be pretty pleased. Plums are low glycemic index, high fiber, and heart-healthy. Red wine is delicious. And it has antioxidants. Gelatin is protein-rich. Ta-da! Nutrition!

Red Wine-Plum Gelee`
yield: Four 3/4 cup servings

1 1/2 pounds Santa Rosa plums, halved and pitted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine
A pinch of ground cinnamon
A small pinch of salt
1 cup water
1 Tbsp gelatin
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2 tsp sugar, to medium peaks

In a medium pot, simmer the plums with the sugar, red wine, cinnamon, salt and a 1/2 c. water over medium heat until they are tender but not falling apart.

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Just a simmer, NOT a boil

Just a simmer, NOT a boil

Remove from heat.
Strain out all the plum chunks and reserve the juice. Puree the plums until no chunks remain. Pour through a fine mesh sieve (you may need to force a bit of it through). Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cooled juice and allow to bloom for five minutes. Return to low heat, and gently stir until the gelatin is completely melted.
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Stir in the pureed plums and remove from heat.
I need a sweater this color

I need a sweater this color


Pour into glasses and chill, covered, in the fridge until set, about 3 hours.
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Top with whipped cream and fresh plums and eat with reckless abandon.

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Well Hey there! It’s been a minute since the last post, hasn’t it? Have you ever noticed how fast time flies when things slow down? That’s what it’s been like over here.
What’s been keeping me busy, though, are all the plums growing, falling, and collecting in my yard. There are…lots…of plums. It’s a nice dilemma. One that lends itself to visiting the neighbors with gifts in hand, discussions on what to do when you’ve reached saturation point with jam and need some new ideas.
There's way more where that came from

There’s way more where that came from


I’m getting a lot of good ideas, and I’m starting with this one. This plum cake is plucked from David Lebowitz’s Ripe For Dessert, which I made a couple of teeny changes to. It reminds me of the kind of cakes my grandmother would make- not too sweet,redolent of her Austrian heritage, and filled with the best of the season’s fruits. Blueberries were her thing, plums are mine.

Plum Cake

1/4 c warm whole milk
2 tsp. dry yeast (not instant)
1/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp, cut into small pieces
6 medium plums, pitted and cut into slices
1/2 c. raspberries
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 c. sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and side of a 9″ springform pan.

Place the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and sprinkle the yeast on top. Stir and allow the yeast to dissolve a bit. Add the first 1/4 c. of sugar and stir well, then add the vanilla and eggs. Continue to mix until the yeast and sugar are completely dissolved and the eggs are fully incorporated.
Add the flour and salt and beat on medium speed for a minute. Add the chunks of butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat for an additional minute.
Pour the dough (it will be very sticky and soft) into the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

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If after 2 hours the dough has not spread into the edge of the pan, dampen your hands and press into the corner and side. Sprinkle the raspberries on top of the dough, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edge. If the fruit is too close to the edge, it could stick to the pan and burn in the oven. Arrange the plums on top of the berries.
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Sprinkle the lemon juice on top of the fruit, then sprinkle the sugar evenly atop the fruit and exposed dough. Just as David Lebovitz states in the original recipe, it looks like a lot of sugar. Keep on sprinkling.
I know it looks like a lot. TRUST.

I know it looks like a lot. TRUST.


Let the cake sit, covered, for an additional 1/2 hour, to allow it to rise one more time.
Remove the plastic and bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the center is golden and slightly firm.
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Allow the cake to cool a bit before removing from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature, and eat with reckless abandon.

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Just because…

I have a ton of those little French plums hanging out in my kitchen
They won’t last forever
Summer is nearly over and I’m feeling a little wistful
I’m hungry
I’m seeing these all over and I want to join in

So… buckles. I don’t think it’s just me, these are kind of everywhere lately. If you’re unsure what a buckle is, it’s sort of the middle ground between a cobbler and a coffee cake. Perfect for when you don’t quite have enough fruit to fill a pie or cobbler, and don’t necessarily want a lot of cake.

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It is, among other things, National Just Because Day, a day that gives one a reason to not have a reason. I have plenty of reasons to make what I’m making today, but I think “just because” fits with how I’m feeling right now.

You know, just because.

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French Plum and Raspberry Buckle*

Cake Batter:
3/4 (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Small pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

2 c. French plums, halved and pitted (if these are unavailable, apricots, small plums, or more berries
can be substituted
1 c. raspberries

Sugar Topping:
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cubed, very cold
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter an 8″ pan and set aside.

For the batter:
Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula between each addition. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then add to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined. Fold in the fruit- very gently- then pour into the prepared pan. Spread evenly and set aside.

For the topping:
In the bowl of a food processor (or with a pastry blender), pulse all of the ingredients until a fine cornmeal-y texture develops. Sprinkle evenly atop the cake.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a deep golden color forms on top and the middle of the cake springs back when gently pressed.

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the pan and serving. Consume with reckless abandon.

*Borrowed heavily from a recipe found in this book here, which is one of my most all-time favorites.

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