Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Squash Fries

You are surprised to see a squash post. So am I. This is perhaps the only way, outside of pie, that I have ever enjoyed squash. I had a similar dish with my friends Meredith and Curtis a month or so ago. Meredith liked it so much I tried to reproduce it for her bridal shower. It went over spectacularly, and what's more, I thought it was a pretty decent way to get the squash to go down! I will not make it again, however, until I have a good knife. I cut myself twice and spent forever reducing the squash to steak-fry-shaped pieces.

Squash Fries with Chili Cumin Salt and Maple Sour Cream

2 lbs butternut squash, halved, seeded, and peeled
2 T olive oil
1/2 c sour cream
2 T maple syrup
2 limes, wedged

Preheat oven to 425. Cut squash to half-inch wide fries. Coat with olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender and crispy at the edges. I even like them quite brown at the edges, about 35 or 40 minutes. Meanwhile, stir some maple syrup into sour cream to make a dipping sauce, and mix the salt with the spices. Sprinkle some of the spiced salt over the squash fries and squeeze some lime juice over them, pretty liberally.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Plum and Ginger Crumble

I still had plums, so I turned to the same source: The New York Times. This recipe is actually described as a modification of the Plum Torte I made a few days ago. This is clearly phylogenetically correct-- if Marion Burros says it is, whose recipes they are, we see that it is-- but I think that we, as consumers, ought to think of it as more of a riff on the original recipe than a variation. Anyway, I really really liked this. The black-blue plums took on a gorgeous red color when baked in this crumble, and the topping became like delicious cookie. This dessert has really complete and vivid flavor. I served it with little scoops of vanilla ice cream. Yurm.

Plum and Ginger Crumble

12 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
2 T brown sugar (it says light, I used dark)
1 1/2 T plus 1 c AP flour
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
2 heaping T finely chopped candied ginger (yep, I really heaped them)
3/4 c sugar
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 large egg, well-beaten
1 stick butter, melted
Vanilla ice cream, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place plums in bowl. Mix brown sugar, 1 1/2 T flour, 1/4 t cinnamon, ground ginger, and candied ginger together and mix with plums. Arrange plums, skin side up, in ungreased 9 inch pie plate.
3. Combine white sugar, baking powder, remaining flour, and remaining cinnamon and salt and mix well. Stir in egg. Rub together with fingertips to combine ingredients and make a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle over plums. Drizzle butter evenly over top.
4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm, plain or with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Plum Torte

On Saturday I went out into the glory that is Western New York in the fall. My friend Heidi and I went up to Lake Erie and then turned generally westward into ruralness. We found a roadside stand with much fresh produce and I bought a pumpkin, a yellow-fleshed watermelon, and a bag of prune plums. Well, I don't actually like plums. But they looked so darn enticing on that roadside stand, so Williams Carlos Williamsy. I chose to make with them the very famous "plum torte" that was published for 15 consecutive years in the New York Times-- their #1 most requested recipe. Turns out the cake was lovely. Memorable? I am not so sure that it was memorable. It was also not as beautiful when baked as it was before it was baked. It is rather plain. But among all this I suppose we find its virtues-- versatility and simplicity, perfection of proportions rather than presentation. Other virtues, and what virtues they are, are its ease of preparation and how lovely the batter looks and feels when you spread it into the pan! Like fluffy silk.

Plum Torte

1/2 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar, plus more for topping
1 c AP flour, sifted
1 t baking powder
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
12 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
1 t ground cinnamon, or more to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Whisk together dries; add to creamed mixture. Add eggs, beat well.
3. Spoon batter into an 8,9, or 10-inch springform pan (I used a lightly greased pie plate). Place plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with 1 t cinnamon, or to taste. (I used a couple of tablespoons of sugar mixed with the cinnamon for even distribution.)
4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes (40 was enough in my oven). Remove and cool to lukewarm, remove sides of pan, and serve.