Monday, September 3, 2012

Not so "Italian" Plum tart

Remember that 4 lbs of plum? I finally dealt with them. I found a very interesting recipe by Ina Garten. It sounded great and I would be able to use up the last of the 1.5 lb of fruit by making 2 tarts! I love her show and found her very inspiring. I am a fan!!

I also love the flavor combination of almond and plum. I remember making a plum bread a few years ago with almond meal. I decide to replace 1/4 cup of flour with the almond meal and also adding a sprinkle of almond slivered on top, so that people will know there is nut in the tart.

It was not a complicated tart, pretty simple. It is very much a shortbread crust, the sweet and tart is wonderful. As I tasted the tart, something dawn on me - the texture crust is very similar to the crust we use in our Hawaiian mango bar!!! Except it has an almond flavor (well I added that..)

It was a little greasier than our classic bar and ours is less work too! May be I should try to make this again with our crust!

Note: I made 2 tarts here. Recipe is for one.

Italian Plum Tart
3/4 pound Italian prune plums, quartered and pitted
2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
2 tablespoons creme de cassis liqueur
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a sheet pan.
Place the plums, tapioca, creme de cassis, and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and remaining 1 cup of sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder.
With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until it forms small, dry crumbs.
Add 1 tablespoon of cold water and continue to beat for about 30 seconds, until the mixture forms large, moist crumbs.
Set aside 3/4 cup of the crumb mixture
pour the rest into the springform pan. With floured hands, lightly pat the dough evenly in the bottom of the pan and 1 inch up the sides.
Arrange the plums evenly on the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle a handful of almond.
Bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden.
Cool for 15 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and serve warm or at room temperature.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Indian spiced Plum Chutney

My sis dropped off 4 lbs of Italian plum at the house for me to "deal with". As suggested by dear friend and yoga teacher Momi, I made some plum chutney and I posted the picture on Facebook. I promised my friend Lori that I would post the recipe. It's quiet simple, just a bit of work with the prep and the canning. This is great with any curry dish or grill meat.

Indian spiced Plum Chutney

5 cups of Italian plum, stone removed and halved
1 piece of ginger about 1". Peeled1
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp garam masala
1 large tsp minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2-3 disk of Thai Palm sugar or 1-1.5 cup sugar
1 cup raisins
Grate the piece of ginger with the grater
Add the plums in a large stainless steel or non-aluminium pot
 Add cider vinegar and the ginger
 Add Garam masala
 Then garlic and red pepper flakes
 Bring to a boil, drop in 2 sugar disk or 1 cup of sugar. Stir till the sugar is dissolved.
Add raisin.  Reduce heat to a simmer and let it cook for about 1 hour,  stir constantly. Taste and check on the sweetness, you may need to add the last of the sugar or more. It all depends on the sweetness of the fruit. Cook for additional 10-20 mins till the chutney thicken and coat the back of a spoon.
Store in prepared sterilized jars. Process in a water bath to seal. Store in the fridge.

Make 2- 8oz jars



Indonesian inspired Coconut milk Banana bread

Once again I am not eating bananas fast enough, I had 5 big very ripe bananas that I just couldn't threw any more in the freezer since there were already a few bags of 5. I thought of making some Nonya kueh, kueh are cakes/ sweet snacks in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia region. These are the sweets I grew up with.  I remember my mother used to meet me at the airport when I used to pass through Singapore on my business trip. I used to plan my weekend home when I was in Asia. Mother would pick up a box of kueh. I could eat the whole box in the car from the airport to the hotel!!

As I was looking for a recipe I came across a banana bread with coconut milk recipe on the web. I decide to make some modification and add in some Nonya flavor to it. This is a great alternative to your traditional banana bread, very moist with a subtle coconut flavor. Reminded me of the banana coconut kueh made with rice flour with gula melaka (palm sugar). I wish I have some kaya, I may eat the whole loaf! Gula melaka is basically the same as gula jawa. You will be able to find the sugar in Asian stores that carry Indonesia products. If you are in Minneapolis, you can find it at United Noodle.

Somedays I do miss my childhood Island home of Singapore... guess I need to make plan to go home soon.

Coconut milk Banana Bread
5 very ripe banana
250ml (1 small can of coconut milk)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup  Gula jawa or brown sugar, reserve 2 leaping teaspoon, set aside
3 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350*F. Spray or grease 2 9x5 loaf pans
Mash 5 ripe banana in a large bowl
Add coconut milk
Stir in eggs
Then oil
Add in 3/4 cup less 2 tsp sugar. Mix well
Add flour, baking powder, baking sode and salt. Fold in the dry ingredients till everything is moistened. It will be lumpy.
Divide the batter into the 2 prepared pan.
Sprinkle each loaf with a tsp of the reserved sugar
Bake for an hour, till a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center
Let stand for 10 min. Invert and ready to serve!
Wrap tightly and store in the fridge or freeze the 2nd loaf.

Make 2 9x5 loaves.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

English meets Hawaiian Potatoes and green bean salad

I was in the mood for some Hawaiian comfort food.  It would be deluxe mac salad for me. In Hawaii, Mac salad is mainly overcooked macaroni, shredded carrot, mixed with a mayo mix. Everyone has a different recipe. Mine is simply mayo with mustard, dash of Hawaiian salt.  Now what make it deluxe? When there is potatoes in with the mac, that's deluxe. According to one of the Aunties, back in the days on the plantation, potatoes were imported in. Only the plantation owner could enjoy the classic potato salad. The workers loved the flavor, but could afford the potatoes. The local adapted the recipe by putting in overcooked macaroni, that would have the texture of potatoes! How smart!!! For those special occasions they would put a potato or 2 into the salad as a special treat! Now you know the story. The locals love the salad so much and it is only of the stable in any plate lunch in Hawaii, you will get 2 scoop of rice, 1 scoop of mac salad!!

With my new "day" job, I didn't sign up for CSA this year. I knew I would have issue making it to the pick up point every week. I missed my weekly surprise greatly. However this also brought me to venture more to different farm stands. I was on my way home from the country and discovered a small farm stand next to a potato farm. I picked up some beautiful potatoes and green bean. The potatoes are so flavorful. I am going back to pick up more in the next few weeks and cellar them for the winter. The green beans are very vibrant too. I want to make something that will highlight their freshness vs taking it away.

Growing up in a British colony, my childhood diet was a mixture of English and Southeast Asian food. Heinz Salad cream was a stable in household. I was so excited that it is now readily available in the grocery stores here. I like the flavor better than mayo and at times I would mix the 2. Though the years, if I am making mac salad for non-Hawaiian, I would use Salad cream instead. Yes, I broke the rule @@

Remember I just told you about those beautiful green beans. They are calling me. I am inspired to make variable of a Nicoise inspired salad here. It's very simple. The protein here is a simple cut up rotisserie chicken breast from the store, you can use cooked tuna or to keep it vegetarian, you can mix tofu and eggs together. There is not much cooking here and you can make it ahead and toss it together before serving.
Potatoes, Green bean and chicken salad
4-5 Yukon potatoes. Cleaned, boiled, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 cup of fresh t green beans or asparagus. Cleaned and cut into 1.5" pieces. Quickly blanched and drained.
1 fully cooked rotisserie chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes.
1/3 cup Heinz Salad cream

1 tsp honey Dijon mustard
Hawaiian red Alaea salt and pepper to taste
Black sesame seeds
Fried shallot

In a small box, mix the salad cream with mustard. Set aside
In a large bowl, toss potato with green beans.
Add chicken
Add Salad green mixture. Toss well.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set ahead in the fridge to chill and let the flavor blend.
Line the serving plate with lettuce leaves, place the salad on top.
Garnish with black sesame seeds, fried shallot and a sprinkle of Hawaiian salt!
Serve 2-3 as main course or 4 appetizer size salad