A Delicious Season- Plums, Melon, Watermelon…
It’s the end of August, and I know there are people out there already excited about the fall fruits and vegetables that are just around the corner. There will be pumpkins and squash and chestnuts all over town. But don’t miss what’s at the market, now! The very best plums (recipe for Triple-Plum Galette below), melons and every berry you could ask for. And what says summer more than watermelon juice on your cheeks and black pits to spit out? I found the most adorable mini watermelons at the market here in Zürich, just as sweet as their hefty versions we may be more familiar with, but just as juicy and fun to eat.
As for melons, I have always been loyal to the French Charentais or Cavaillon, their bright orange flesh reminding me of summers in France, al fresco lunches with piles of melon slices, so sweet and refreshing. However, when my market vendor told me about the “Rolls Royce of Melons,” the Italian Jolly, I certainly had to try. And disappointed I was not. So fragrant, every bite seemingly more flavorful than the last. It’s always a letdown to slice open a melon and find that it’s lacking flavor or realizing you should have been patient and let it ripen just a bit more. But just the opposite when you separate the two halves and the aroma lets you know all is good here. The only thing to do with them is slice open, take out the seeds and eat the whole thing with a spoon. That said, Deb’s melon agua fresca on Smitten Kitchen is quite tempting…
But right now at the markets, it’s all about plums! You may have noticed the excitement amongst food bloggers lately; everyone is sharing their favorites. And with reason. That’s what I am doing here too after all! David Lebovitz loves his Reines Claudes, those little green plums with red or yellow blush from France (also called Greengage), and Dorie Greenspan loves her Mirabelles, a yellow plum, tiny in size but big in flavor. I happen to agree with them both, and have had bowls of each in the center of the table. Never a bad time throughout the day to pop one in your mouth. I especially enjoy chopping up Mirabelles and adding them to fruit salads. Adds a rich taste of honey and completes the rainbow of colors from the other berries and kiwi. Or you could saute them with vanilla and pine nuts, as you can see in the beautiful photos on B Comme Bon.
I finally bought enough one day to not only savor pure, but also to use in a Triple-Plum Galette. I spread a cornmeal pastry crust with Mirabelle jam and on top of that laid out a mix of bright green Reines Claudes and purple plums. A mixture of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) and lemon zest added another level of flavor. It was fantastic, and I’ll have to do it again, perhaps with a different variety of plums- red plum jam and Mirabelles on top. You could even use multicolored pluots, a delicious cross between a plum and apricot with fun names like Dinosaur Egg. It’s a free-form galette and the choice of fruit is just as flexible as the pastry crust. Have fun with the recipe below, and make your own Double-, Triple- or even Quadruple-Plum Galettes!
Cornmeal pastry crust (makes enough for 2 galettes or 1 double crust pie)
1 1/2 (180 grams) cups flour
1/2 cup (75 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (85 grams) cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks (225 grams) butter, cold in small pieces
A few Tablespoons ice cold water
Whisk all dry ingredients together. Work butter in with hands until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle cold water over dough and rework until it just holds together. Put dough on a floured work surface. Divide in half and please each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten to form disks. Wrap and refrigerate one disk for at least 1 hour or up to one day before using. Place the other in the freezer for use at a later date.
8 Reine Claudes/Greengages
8 purple plums
zest of a whole lemon
juice of half a lemon
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Slice plums in half and pit. Put in a large bowl with other ingredients, toss to mix well. Macerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out pastry directly on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Put 1-2 spoonfuls of Mirabelle jam in the microwave for it to become more runny. Spread on pastry. Pile plums in the center. Sprinkle with sugar if plums were not too sweet. Carefully fold the pastry towards the center to create border around fruit. If pastry starts to fall apart, put galette in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before trying again. Sprinkle crust with sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) for 40 minutes.
Let cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream.