A Pretty Thing – Satsuma Plums
My mom Ellen told me about the Satsuma Plums and the depth of their great inner beauty which seemed to elude us for jam making purposes. I wrote about that a week or so ago when I talked about making plum jam. What happened was that the man at the Farmer’s Market in Culver City was out of the Satsuma’s that he had promised us. It was a big disappointment but we found some other pesticide–free, red-inside plums and jammed with those – my mom included. Well this past Saturday morning, my neighbor Sue Kaplan showed up with 10-lbs of Satsuma plums which she claimed were ‘pesticide free.’ She didn’t look me in the eye when she said it so I’m not sure it was true but I decided to go with it. If it was deception, so be it. Sue invited me to make plum jam with her and of course I wanted to, and since all of the equipment was already at my house after our last jamming session (we had been intending to make some more chutney experiments so Sue just left it at my house) we jammed in the Batch-33 kitchen (my house). Never mind that I had family in town from Oregon (my brother, sister-in-law and 1 niece and 1 of 2 nephews) and from Colorado (my brother-from-another-mother and my niece from him) and was about to start preparations for dinner for 12. . ..
Honestly, the Satsuma Plums are spectacularly gorgeous inside. My mom was so right about that. They’re like a deep magenta color. A beautiful, beautiful thing. We peeled skin for at least an hour and a half and then cooked them like crazy – I’m sure you know the routine by now (2 cups fruit, 1 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp lemon). Cooking time was probably 1 ½ hours. All the jam recipes say to cook for like 20-minutes or until 200 degrees but that never seems to result in jam. We now just cook the heck out of the fruit/sugar/lemon mixture. We netted 12-jars of the pretty stuff. My mom came for dinner with the out of town family. I offered her a jar but she declined and said she’d make her own. I'm sure hers will be better than mine. . ..
I held out a few of the plums for a tart for dessert.
And I made it with a tart crust recipe that came from my childhood friend Disa Fink, who now lives in Denmark. (I’ve written about Disa before. She and her husband live on a farm in Denmark and have an amazing garden and a well-known micro-brewery called Wintercoat which is also a concert venue for up and comer musicians of a certain type. Check it out at wintercoat.dk). The measurements for the tart crust are in grams (that’s how they do it there) so pull out that scale and push the button for grams. It’s a delicious tart crust and well worth the effort. Also it makes 4-crusts so you can freeze what you don’t use.
Tart Dough (from Disa Fink in Denmark) Makes 4 crusts and freezes well
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
500 grams of flour (about 4 cups)
125 grams powdered sugar (about 1 ½ cups)
325 grams of butter or vegetable margarine (just shy of 1 ½ cups)
125 grams ground almonds (this is optional and the unpeeled variety is just fine – about 1 ½ cups)
a pinch of salt
a tsp of vanilla or “a little ground vanilla” or vanilla sugar
2 eggs beaten
Directions: Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl with your hands (or a fork if you must) Cut the butter/margarine into little bits and rub it all together until the mixture is like coarse cornmeal with pea-sized lumps of butter/margarine. Beat the eggs with the vanilla and stir into the dough with a fork and then crumble together lightly with fingers until the dough sticks together.
Divide into 4-pieces, flatten into round discs so it’s easy to make tarts. Place on parchment and then wrap and freeze until you want to make a tart.
Roll out the crust on a piece of parchment to a 16” circle. Slice the Satsuma Plums into ¼” slices (half-moon shapes) and throw in a little sugar (about ¼ cup) or not. Throw in a little flour (about ¼ cup) or not. If you added sugar and/or flour stir it all together. Plop the fruit into the center of the rolled out crust and then fold the edge of the crust over the fruit. Place the tart, on the parchment, on a foil-lined baking sheet with sides (the fruit is super juicy and runs all over the place). Bake at 375 to 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the crust is a pretty brown. Serve warm or room temperature. You can use any fruit for this tart. Super versatile.
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