Friday, July 23, 2010

Fun with Farmer's Market Fruit

I have always been a big fan of farmer's markets, and I am loving the fact that this year they started doing a farmer's market right outside of my office building every Wednesday! It makes it so much easier to get to a market every week, especially if we are away on the weekend, and I find that I am often stopping by several different markets to pick up different things during the week. DC folks, if you don't already know where your nearest market is, here is a listing of all the ones run by FreshFarm markets (not totally comprehensive, but a good start).
Amazingly, I have been finding that this summer, I have been able to grow nearly all the vegetables we need, so my farmer's market purchases have trended more towards fruits (well, fruits and green beans, as my beans this year have again not been so successful).  I have been loving snacking on fresh apricots, which have such a lovely delicate flavor compared to dried ones.  I am a huge peach and nectarine fan, and have been enjoying trying the different varieties as the season progresses.  Berries always feel like a splurge to me but this week I got blackberries which I have been eating in my cereal each morning.  Growing up going to Maine each summer I really can't get on board with the big (relatively) bland blueberries that we get down here in the mid-Atlantic, but the abundance of other delicious fruits makes up for it pretty well!

I have been eating up the fruit as a delicious snack, but with such an abundance I have also been enjoying trying out some fruit recipes.  In addition to the two shown below, I made peach ice cream from The Ultimate Ice Cream book, which I had made last summer and it was really yummy once again.  I have found the book to be really comprehensive and all the recipes we have tried have turned out really well.  Although, I have recently been tempted to get another ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop.  Is it bad to want to own two books of ice cream recipes?

For a coworker's going away party today, I made a recipe from my mom, a plum torte.  It looks fancy (I think) but is actually really easy to put together, and very tasty.  You make it in a springform pan, here is mine after I took off the outside ring today:

Plum Torte
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4-5 plums (underripe is OK, mine were overripe which was OK but not ideal)
  • more sugar and lemon juice (lemon juice optional) 

Butter and flour 9" springform or deeper than usual cake pan, and preheat oven to 350°.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add the flour to the wet ingredients in several additions, mixing after each, and then adding the vanilla and mixing until it is smooth.   Spread the dough (which is fairly thick dough) to cover the bottom of the pan.  Cut the plums in half and arrange them around the pan, cut side down.  Sprinkle pan with sugar and lemon juice if desired. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour (I baked mine an hour and it was a bit on the done side); as it bakes the dough rises up around the plums and kind of encases them.  You can serve it plain or with vanilla ice cream.  Cut and serve from the pan--don't try to take the bottom off the springform/remove it from the cake pan.

Finally, the last fruit recipe that I have to share is a savory dish and super easy and delicious. I am pretty sure this is a Mark Bittman recipe, but I originally was served this at a friends and have made it several times since.  It's just a variation on a classic tomato basil salad where you add peaches to the mix... and dressed with a simple drizzle of olive oil and plenty of salt.  For mine, I had yellow pear and red carmello tomatoes from my garden, green and purple basil also from my garden, and then white and yellow peaches from the farmers market.  Yum!

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