Oh, sigh! It felt so good to be back to a normal(-er) routine this weekend. After taking care of work deadlines on Saturday, I gave myself Sunday off to just take it easy and relax. And by "take it easy and relax," I meant "get back in the kitchen and behind the camera and make a mess in the kitchen and studio without bothering to clean up at all." Also known as "baking and photographing with reckless abandon." And yes, it felt very good. So, so good.
Of course a day of baking and photographing must first be preceded by a trip to the farmers' market, where I wandered slowly from stall to stall, stopping whenever people handed me samples (it's better than Costco, I swear!), snacking on fresh seafood ceviche (yes, one of the local farmers' markets here has fresh ceviche--be jealous), and, lo-and-behold, running into fellow food photographers/bloggers (yes, the SF Bay Area is so crawling with foodies that you literally can't walk out of your house without tripping over food bloggers). I was on the lookout for apricots, but it seems as if during my work-imposed hermitude from the food world, apricots had gone out of season. Sad. But! I did stumble across plenty of beautiful plums that would nicely substitute in my intended plans.
[click on photo for a larger image]
One of my favorite stands for getting fruit is run by this lovely old grandmother figure, who is so awesome that she's the reason I buy fruit there in the first place. (The same woman who sold me these persimmons.) She takes such great and wonderful pride in her crops that she usually insists on picking your fruit for you so as to insure that you have the best selection possible for whatever use you specify. Today, though, she was busy offering samples to a few other shoppers, so I ended up picking my own plums. Upon presenting them to her for weighing, she said to me, "You have a good taste--you picked perfect plums!" Ah! I'm taking that as a huge compliment.
[click on photo for a larger image]
Anyways, this is the recipe that I had in mind originally for apricots, but I have to say, I think that it came out even better with the multi-colored varieties of plums that I brought home from the market. And by "even better," I mean, that these honey thyme roasted plums are most likely one of the most delicious things that I've made in a long time. Seriously. When the plums came out of the oven bubbling intensely in their own juices, and then with the warm honey drizzled on them, all soft and sweet and slightly earthy from the thyme leaves... it was divine. Sigh.
To go with the plums, I finally got to break out a recipe that I've been meaning to try for ages, modifying it with a little bit of herb infusion: thyme-flecked sable breton. It's not often that I bake with salted butter, but this shortbread was so well worth it: buttery, crumbly, herb-y, with just a light sprinkling of coarse sugar on top. Its crispiness makes it a perfect companion to the soft plums, and it also makes a very nice vessel with which to soak up the plum juices left on your plate at the end. :-)
Anyways, I'd call this a very successful day off. I'm also very glad that I have a few more plums and some more sable breton dough squirreled away so that I can relive the weekend just a bit sometime during the week.
Welcome to Monday!
Read on for recipes....
Thyme-flecked Sable Breton
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
makes one 9" round or two 6" rounds
1 cup (140 gr) AP flour
1 1/4 tspn baking powder
1 - 1 1/2 tspn fresh thyme leaves
10 Tbspn (5 oz.) salted sweet cream butter
2/3 cup (130 gr) sugar
big pinch salt
1 large egg
1. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and fresh thyme leaves. Set aside.
2. In a mixer bowl, cream the butter on medium high until soft. Gradually add the sugar and salt and continue to beat on medium for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Add the egg and beat on medium for another 2 minutes.
4. Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour mixture, just until combined. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least three hours or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9" round tart pan (or two 6" round pans) and place on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Non-stick tart pans will not need buttering.
6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and press a thin layer down into the bottom of the tart pan. Do not press the dough up the sides. Using a fork, prick the dough in several places. Return to the refrigerator or freezer to chill briefly if the dough has begun to soften.
7. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
8. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Let cool for a few minutes and then turn the the shortbread out of the pan. Let cool completely right side up on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, cut the shortbread into wedges.
Honey Thyme Roasted Plums
6 plums of different varieties
fresh thyme, about 5-6 sprigs
1-2 Tbspn honey
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut the plums into halves or quarters. Arrange in one layer in a baking pan.
3. Strip fresh thyme leaves onto the plums, and sprinkle lightly with a few big pinches of sugar.
4. Bake the plums in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling. Remove from oven.
5. Warm the honey in the microwave or on the stovetop. Brush lightly over the plums.