Use ‘Em Up


It’s summer – at last – and fresh fruit returns triumphantly to grocery stores, farmers’ markets and roadside stands.  It all looks so good, and we’ve waited so very patiently over the off season.  The temptation is overwhelming, and soon we fill baskets, shopping bags and pockets with the returning bounty.  Upon getting home – no, upon getting to the car – the first bite reveals a lusciousness scarcely imaginable.

Then comes the sobering realization that we’re never going to able to make use of all that fruit before it overripens.  What to do?  It all looked so good at the store!  Fortunately, Bon Appetit anticipated such a problem, and  proposed a solution in its August 2018 issue, Plum-Cardamom Crumble with Pistachios.

Fully three pounds of plums are pitted, sliced and  go into a pie plate, skins and all (they soften nicely and give the crumble the striking red color you see).  Add a bit of lemon zest and a pinch of cardamom for an ethereal note, and the fruit is ready for the crumb topping.  Butter, brown sugar and a little more cardamom come together to build a topping that’s light, rich and sweet.  Finally, all is topped with chopped pistachios and goes into the oven.

What emerges is a perfect combination of sweet, buttery and salty, and manages to be both crunchy and gooey.  It’s best served quite warm from the oven.  Give it, maybe, several minutes to cool, then dig in!  Of course, the way to do it is to enjoy the warm crumble topped with whipped cream or, better yet, with vanilla ice cream.

That’s what crowned the dessert in today’s picture.  The ice cream was frozen when it first joined the crumble.  Pay careful attention to the verb tense – was.  Would you look at what that warm desert did to it?  All that creamy goodness oozing over the tangy fruit.  It’s a wonderfully delicious scandal, that’s what it is.

As “problems” go, though, it’s beautifully manageable – just eat the evidence.  The bigger issue, what to do with all that fruit, has been solved.  Fruit abounds, and crumbles await.  Oh, the problems of summertime!

*****

Plum-Cardamom Crumble with Pistachios

  • 3 pounds plums, pitted and sliced 1/3-inch tick
  • 2 teaspoons finely-grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (*1)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, divided
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely-chopped pistachios

Place the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°.  Toss plums, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt ant 1/4 teaspoon cardamom in a large bowl.  Let sit until juice begins to appear, about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, put the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/3 cup of brown sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cardamom in a food processor.  Pulse until just combined.

Add the butter and pulse until the texture is of a sandy consistency and begins to form lumps.

Pour the plums and their juice into a pie plate.  Scatter the topping evenly over the fruit, squeezing together lightly at various spots.  Scatter chopped pistachios over top.

Bake until juices are bubbling and crust is golden-brown, about 40 minutes.  (*2) Let cool several minute, then serve warm, preferably with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

NOTES:

1 –  As in most dishes, Meyer lemons are preferable, as their taste is slightly gentler and sweeter than is “regular” lemons’.

2 – Place the pie plate on a baking tray before you slide it into the oven.  Chances are, the fruit will bubble over some, and a baking tray is much easier to clean than is an oven.

88 thoughts on “Use ‘Em Up

  1. two large bowls of scandal please?

    You really have my taste buds drooling with this one Keith and you are 24 hours early … pleasant surprise! In a few months time when I see the first batch of plums at the farmers market I will try this one out … as I will actually have a stove – my first in 16 years 🙂

    You have fulfilled my culinary dreams with this one, fruit and ice cream offering that tantalising contrast of hot/cold; with the range of taste and texture sensations … who could ask for more ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Much appreciated Kate! Who could ask for more? Certainly not the likes of me, that’s for sure.

      At first, I was thinking of redoing the weekly photo, as a steam of melting ice cream hardly would make the cover of Food & Wine. Then I asked myself, what better way to convey the warm ooziness of fresh-from-the-oven cobbler? Besides, it’s been fairly hot recently, up to 35 (C) nearly every day, thwarting prospects for intact ice cream for the moment.

      Congrats on the stove, Kate! Most flattering you’d think of the recipe when plums return to the market. There have been other readers from South Africa, Oz and from Brazil,, though, to my knowledge, never has an entry so inspired the southern hemisphere before. Greatly honored!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Already there, Kate!

        A well-supplied local market, easy access to Amazon, and a few good cookbooks and magazines, and our travel plans already have been made. Just around he corner, Colombia, New Orleans, Belgium, Lebanon… Eventually, as the years unfold (they will) we’ll make it to Haiti, Taiwan, Ecuador, Austria, Washington State..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. lol I often had this problem when I was over there … learnt Bavarian rather than high German and every time I said I was Australian they were so sure I meant Austrian, obviously I got the accent ok 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. So what you’re telling me Kate, is that to a Bavarian, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nicole Kidman sound pretty much the same?

        Blindfold 100 people in Munich, ask each actor to say “auf Wiedersehen,” and watch the Munchners guess wrong every time!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. With that begins the latest global crime syndicate, Eliza. Guess who gets to be the supervillain in the next Bond film? I will have to shave my head, though.

        Because, you know, bald people…very sinister.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, no, Eliza. Not in disguise, but in work. Assembling that Thing we’re building in the underground lair. You know, the Secret Device.

        I figure, with the name tags, they won’t have to change clothes before they go out bowling. Straight to the lanes after the whistle blows each evening. How gloriously blue collar, right?

        As you know, happy henchmen are productive henchmen.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Let’s not be too Earth-centric either.

        Everybody knows the moon is made of cheese, so there has to be a planet out there made entirely of Plum-Pistachio Cobbler. Let’s find it.

        If the planet’s inhabitants give us any trouble, we’ll eat them.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Right? It’s so hard to believe there’s not even a Star Trek episode like that (as far as I’m aware).

        Then again, the crew of the Enterprise might have some trouble taking the moral high ground while eating a bunch of aliens… So of course they’re not going to document THAT encounter. 😝

        Liked by 2 people

      5. No, Rachel, I don’t imagine they would.

        See, some people just wouldn’t understand. Before getting too smug, though, they should imagine what it’s like exploring the universe with a growling stomach. Imagine, nothing to eat for days, then all of a sudden, a plum-and-pistachio-cobbler based planet. What would you have done?

        Plus, that would have thrown off the whole cadence of the opening introduction. “Space – minus one planet, the final frontier….”

        Nope, better just to pretend plum planet never happened, and to keep the script as is.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Inquiry discontinued due to lack of evidence.

      You know, Rachel, people around these parts talk about a food blog that filled these pages once. We can find no traces of its existence, though, save for a few photos and some scribbling. Nothing, not a soup, nary a stir-fry, remains to confirm its place.

      Sounds made-up, if you ask me. I mean, “Terrified Amateur?” Who would name their kid that?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Plum cardamom?!? LOVE. Really, this sounds like a combination made in heaven. I don’t typically use plums in desserts (peaches and strawberries are my main summer dessert fruits). This makes me want to change my ways.

    Fruits freeze so well that I don’t mind over-purchasing when they are perfectly ripe. They will always find a use somehow! 🙂

    The ice cream is really a necessity with a warm crumble, isn’t it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely, Summer! Besides, as mentioned elsewhere, just as well it melted when it hit the cobbler. At these temperatures, good luck getting ice cream to keep its shape anywhere.

      Even since I started using cardamom in many Thai dishes, it opened up a whole world of ideas. I know it added something extra perfect to a Persian Pistachio Baklava offered up a couple years ago.

      Completely agree about the fruit White nothing matches freshly-picked, of course, many of the frozen varieties come close. As you know, peaches reach perfection in 5…4…3…2…1…

      Prepare some for the freezer now, then wait to surprise and delight house guests (and yourself) come January or February.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I just created a big ice cream cake for my son’s birthday, so I understand the ice cream situation. Especially with limited cooling in the house, the slices had to be cut very quickly before being popped back into the freezer. It started dripping on us in no time flat.

        I feel like I have a recipe that uses cardamom coming up too, but I can’t recall how I’m using it at the moment. I know for certain that no plums are involved. I’ve been using Larousse Gastronomique to help inspire creative food combinations like you have here. There’s really an endless world of spice and fruit combinations to try!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Amen, Sister!

        As you observed in a comment string elsewhere, both of us are planners to the point of obsession. I’d say, between us, we have close to a thousand recipes slated. The hell of it is, that still only gets us to, what, .003% of all the flavor combinations out there?

        Resolved, then, that we both live to be 175, so that we can bump that number up to a full 1% before we move on to the Eternal Kitchen.

        Just think of it Summer. No more COVID-mob shortages. No more waiting for Amazon to leave a package at our front doors. Want to use three pounds of saffron in this recipe? Have at it. Money means nothing all of a sudden.

        Glance out at the table as the stockpot bubbles away on the stove. Is that your husband joking over appetizers with St. Paul and Margaret Chase Smith? And Einstein’s listening attentively? How’d he manage that? Back yo the soup, Summer. Julia Child wants to show you a trick she learned in France.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Agreed, though Julia seemed to delight in glopping on butter, almost daring the health-obsessed to bat an eye. All for Art, nothing for Science.

        Meanwhile, you show everyone how to enhance flavor, and to maximize umami, all while keep things reasonably healthy. In fact, majorly healthy most of the time.

        “Sure,” you say. “let’s celebrate this meal, but let’s also ensure there will be many more meals for decades to come.”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes she was, I believe. In fact, when she did shows with her friend Jacques Pepin, she had half a head on him. Same thing with most others.

        Of course, she got a lot of exercise pounding things with that rolling pin! Quite often, I recall her thumping making other countertop items dance.

        “There! Now that’s good and flat…”

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Ooooh Julia would be unhappy… I just learned that the rec about moderate alcohol intake and health benefits was rescinded in the latest Dietary Guidelines. I had a feeling that would be coming along eventually, maybe not so soon though.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Really, Summer, do you reckon she’d be unhappy? I definitely recall a glint of delight in Julia’s eyes when she defied the Butter-Is-Bad people.

        If booze now joins butter on the No-No list, that’d be just another nose Julia would love to tweak. The cuisine rises above it all.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. True! I remember reading an article from the 90s where she was talking about eating 2 tablespoons of saturated fat per day. It was kind of a funny statement to make since it doesn’t really make sense (butter, olive oil, etc are all a mix of unsat and sat fats) but you could tell she was having her fun. lol

        Liked by 1 person

      8. That really is funny, Summer! You’d figure someone as talented and as intelligent as Julia, especially someone whose life was food prep, would have no problem grasping the concept of saturated fat. Sure, there may not have been much mention of the stuff for the first couple decades Julia cooked, but in the five decades after that?

        Unless she meant to write “2 cups” or “2 gallons,” and the editor didn’t catch it.

        Or maybe, just maybe, that was Julia’s way of showing such things really weren’t important to her. It’s all about the art, and the joy it gives people.

        Let the scientists obsess over numbers.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I think the 80s and 90s were particularly difficult decades to be promoting French food. There was a lot of demonizing fat and promotion of things like fat-free Snackwell’s. I think our current times are a bit better for people promoting cooking at home and less of the overly processed foods from the store.

        I mean, the 2 tablespoons of butter for the entire day is a completely reasonable amount for some in my opinion. I probably average half that but I use a lot of olive oil too.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Admirably opined, Summer!

        I think, in decades past, people didn’t consider food in nuanced terms. Thus, you either foreswore all butter, or you downed it by the stickful while watching Arsenio.

        It took years, really, for people to catch on to the intelligent way you prepare food. High quality, always. Indulgence? Sometimes, but in balance and in moderation. Delight both your taste buds today, and your doctor, next week.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Summer, you’re too kind! If you want the tagline, it’s yours. Obviously it sprang into being with you in mind.

        After all, you pay close attention to what goes into your creations, and you take great care to keep everything in balance. Meanwhile, I use flours, butters and sugars willy-nilly, and I fry, saute and wok with abandon. You’ve influenced me, certainly, but I’ve so far to go yet.

        And please, I don’t want to put you on the spot. The last thing I want to do is to repay your kindness with mortification. “Oh God, now he expects me to use this line?”

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I probably shouldn’t switch it again since I just did a few months ago. If I were to change it, your idea is a great one 🙂

        Your site is all about the enjoyment and poetry of food. I think inspiring people to create at home is good for the soul. I would not hesitate to use the word healthy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Thanks much, Summer!

        I don’t know about you, but when I assemble a post, it’s my first time attempting that particular recipe. Almost always, if fact, that particular dish.

        So far, I’ve ben lucky, in that everything has turned out well. Still, I usually have no idea what I’m going to write until after the meal has been prepared and photographed.

        Thanks too for the compliment about what I prepare being “healthy.” For what it’s worth, you have inspired me to pursue, on occasion, practical alternatives to flour and sugar. Not nearly to your level, but still, much more frequently than once was.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Haha, I usually do each recipe at least twice prior to posting! I like to make tweaks and ensure the directions I wrote are easy to follow.

        If I didn’t have the health spin, I think my website would be bad for my health! I don’t know how recipe developers manage if their specialty is cake, candy, etc

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Lest outsiders become too bedazzled, Summer, we do put our thumbs on the scale when selecting recipes that appeal to us.

        Thus, with the eagerness that grants, and confidence over the ingredients, we’re on the glide path.

        Don’t know about you, Summer, but there aren’t many ideas that begin with “I hate that, and I can’t stand those, but I’m going to try this anyway.” Sure, occasionally, we gain a newfound appreciation for certain ingredients, but the overall structure already is there for everything to come up Milhouse.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Oh, yes. I only make what sounds good to me to eat! Lately I’ve been focusing more on using good key words (what others are looking for). That said, I can’t bring myself to make certain things that I would probably rank well for. It would be tricky to put a healthy spin on “frozen tater tots in air fryer,” for instance. lol

        Liked by 1 person

      17. Ha!

        And all this time, I though you were posting dishes you thought I’d like. It certainly has worked out that way. You mean, it’s not me, it’s the key words?

        Sob.

        Much more mortifying is realizing my own tastes coincide with mass yearnings. Ah, h***, no!

        Liked by 1 person

      18. The whole key word thing has inspired some funny conversations here in regards to what people might like and be looking for. You’re only getting the healthier angle on my site… trust me, I could go in a very different direction with things that would probably become popular! lol

        If you like what I post, you’re tastes are probably more similar to mine than the general population. There is some filtering going on because I can’t really bring myself to post certain types of recipes. lol

        Liked by 1 person

      19. Our tastes coincide much more often than not, Summer. To that point, just since I started following the blog, at least a dozen times you’ve featured something that’s on my own Future Entries list.

        After the initial Dammit! moment fades, I ask myself why I’m vexed. Do I worry you’d think I’m copying you? Well, truth be told, I am, as you certainly have had a positive influence. Plus, I plan to come at things from a different direction anyway.

        There’s plenty of food to go around, and cooks dream up each 1,001 different ways. Still, I will be possessive about one item, all preemptive-like, djon djons. It took me some doing (perhaps even a voodoo spell too) to acquire them. Don’t steal my thunder on this one!

        You take the show to such healthy destinations, Summer, one of these April Fool’s Days or other, you ought to make an entry on something completely unexpected, like a Twinkie, or a Happy Meal. Of course, you probably wouldn’t get very far beyond the first paragraph before, “You know, I have no idea what’s even in one of these things. I give up…”

        Liked by 1 person

      20. Haha, I should do an April Fool’s Day prank like that. I could make something that looks like a Twinkie but is something else entirely. That would take some work!

        Since you plan years in advance, I’m not surprised that there is overlap! I wasn’t planning a djon djon recipe in the near future, so I guess it’s all yours!

        Liked by 1 person

      21. Seriously, Summer, I was kidding about the djon-djons. Even when you feature them, my attempt almost certainly will be from another direction.

        As for the “Twinkie,” how about an egg and almond flour exterior wrapped around coconut cream with a little honey and a bit of potato starch for a thickener? How about, “April Fool’s! Not Really, Though. The Original Is Dreadful, but This Actually is on the Healthy Side?”

        Ha – that’d fix peoples’ wagons!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Keith, please stop! I’m dieting. You had me at plums and Meyer lemons, brown sugar and butter. I can’t say I know cardamom, but the thread of responses here makes up for that. Always a fun trip over here to TA—again hardly amateur—more like Truly Amazing! Tantalizing Appetites! Taste à la mode!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, so kind, Crystal!

      I respect your discipline in sticking to this diet, but you may not be considering all the factors. For one thing, how many calories have you burned already just dreaming about the cobbler? Those alone should buy at least a bowlful. If you add in the effort your stomach’s made growling, you can throw in a scoop or two of ice cream.

      Now, if you go ahead and make this in your kitchen, why, that’ll get you the whole pan just for yourself. Sorry, Kody, wedding vows go only so far,

      As for a key ingredient, I think you’ll like cardamom. So many splendid applications, in both the savory and in the sweet. You might find them in better-stocked supermarkets, particularly in a metro as large as is Houston. Or, you can order them online – I know The Spice House always has what I need.

      Like

      1. Maybe, Crystal, maybe not.

        Writing about them certainly gives you a workout, though. Just with this response, and the thought you gave it, you offset enough calories for another spoonful. See? this cobbler’s coming together more easily than you thought possible!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. There are few things better, in my opinion, than going to a farmers that is fully stocked with all kinds of freshly harvested goodies. And you’re so right. It’s easy to go overboard. It’s a very tasty problem to have, isn’t it?

    This actually reminded me of my dad. 🙂😥 We always had plum trees growing in the yard as he absolutely loved them. I’m quite fond of them myself but long after all of us had had our fill of plums for the season he would still be eating them like crazy… those trees sure did produce a lot of plums!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful recollections, JoAnn! Perhaps your dad, somehow, inspired the article.

      Another of plums’ selling points is the trees’ magnificent springtime flowering. Those colors are extraordinary, and are a great resource even if they didn’t produce fruit later in the season.

      At first, I was reluctant to feature plums, as most people don’t think about them when contemplating summer’s bounty. Still, one of the blog’s animating missions is exploring forgotten culinary passages, so why not?

      Speaking of farmers’ market bounty, didn’t you mention a while back another coconut entry is on its way? Don’t deny us our coconuts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Coconuts, yes. I’ve been so distracted lately with so many things 😕 Need to get back to my coconuts! 🥥🙂

        I had forgotten about the flowering of the plum trees in springtime. I think I remember one having these pretty white flowers and another having purple flowers. It’s been a long time ago now though!

        I think it’s a great choice to feature food items that don’t get nearly the amount of attention they deserve!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yes, JoAnn, definitely with the purple blooms! There’s a house in the neighborhood with a row of them stretching up and over a hill. Come April, magnificent! To the point that, it makes me change the daily commute, at least for the few weeks the plums are in flower.

        I definitely agree that unjustly-neglected food items can inspire fascination. So too does something that’s magnificent, yet exotic. For you, though, a local crop. Quite a life-trek, JoAnn, from the Land of the Potato, to the Land of the Coconut.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sounds like a beautiful commute!

        I never think about the potato being one my favorite foods as it’s such a staple but it really is, especially with how I grew up 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It is, JoAnn. Pity the commute ends in the office half the time. The trip home, though, much more satisfying, start to finish.

        You know, I always thought of Idaho being to potatoes what Florida is to oranges. Plus, potatoes are so wonderfully adaptable, they take on the essence of whatever tops them, surrounds them or underlays them. Kind of like the Zelig of vegetables.

        Is that…Woody Allen on your plate? “Florida? Let me tell you. They have bugs down there as big as Volkswagens.”

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Always better to be going home from work than to be going to work.

        Potatoes is definitely the staple of Idaho. They are very adaptable and you can’t grow up on a potato farm without attempting to eat a raw potato at least once… not a good experience at all 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      6. No, JoAnn, I concur. Seriously? How?

        Well, in kindergarten, the teacher wanted to show us how two things could look the same yet taste different, so she peeled and cubed an apple and a potato and had us taste each. , The potato came second – what a devastating way to conclude the experiment.

        Drawing to a much more pleasant experience, I believe McDonald’s acquires from Idaho most of the spuds for its fries. As you spent years on a potato farm, is it possible, just possible,, one of the potatoes your family grew ended up in the fries (and sundries) my father brought home for the family one afternoon or another?

        Don’t answer that question. The reverie the illusion inspires is just too thrilling not to be true!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Wow, no offense but your K-teacher sounded like she was a bit on the weird side… then again I would guess most are.

        Not sure about French fries… but I do know for sure that a lot of our potatoes ended up in Lays potato chip bags… 🥔😋

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Lays, huh, JoAnn? Well, I’ve been known to partake of those too.

        Thus, the original speculation is preserved. Eighth birthday party, and a few bags of chips opened for the kids. Who knew, as the years became decades, the grower and the consumer would meet?

        I can sense an ad campaign coming on. If Lays is willing to spend the $$$, the story even may make the Super Bowl halftime show.

        Which everyone will watch, then will conclude Lays just wasted $3.1 million.

        Liked by 1 person

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