Happy 4th of July, dear readers! I hope you had a weekend that was as relaxing and stress-free as mine was. I've been under an exorbitant amount of stress lately and haven't had the time to do much of anything, so I wanted to take this weekend to do everything I've wanted to do for the past few weeks. So, while the rest of the country was BBQing with friends or hitting up the beach, I slept late, watched two seasons of Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, went raspberry picking, treated myself to some intense yoga, cleaned my apartment, started packing, saw a movie and only hung out with a few people. It was wonderful to get away from a flooded inbox and constantly ringing phone. I know that things will be hectic again in a few short hours, but I'm relishing in the last moments of being on my own schedule.
I have to admit that I was most productive today. I watched a lot of Netflix yesterday. I think it was the grey skies--they made my mood melancholy and I didn't have the desire to finish any project I started. Today, even though I woke up late, I was filled with an unusual gusto. I didn't have to fight with myself to go to yoga and even pushed myself to do more intense poses that I wouldn't get to do in a beginner's class. It was nice to feel challenged. When I left class an hour and forty minutes later, I felt sweaty, accomplished and in need of fruit. yes, fruit. I rarely crave fruit, but I found myself standing in front of a myriad of nectarines, plums and apricots in Trader Joe's, trying to picture which would be most juicy and satisfying when I bit into it. I was only going to buy one piece of fruit to have as a snack on the way home, but my eyes caught a container of black plums and the image of beautifully arranged dark crescents on a sweet tart shell popped into my head and my plan changed all together.
A quick Google search later, I had a recipe from Ina Garten in hand [thank you iPhone] and was headed home to start my tart quest. I had visions of sugarplums dancing in my head...well, almost. I had never eaten a black plum before and didn't consider that the inside wouldn't be the same sunset orange and bright yellow of the plums I had grown up eating. When I cut into the first plum, I was shocked at the jewel-like crimson color hiding beneath a Tyrian purple exterior. When fanned out in rows around the shell, the finished tart looked like a glistening chrysanthemum after an autumn rainstorm. Simply gorgeous.
(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! 2001. As seen on foodnetwork.com)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
2 pounds firm, ripe black plum, pitted and sliced into thin crescents
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry cutter or by hand. 3. Once mixture resembles coarse meal (the butter pieces should be no bigger than peas), add egg. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.
4. Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. 5. Arrange the plums in the pan to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.
6. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. 7. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (adapted from David Lebovitz's Philadelphia-style vanilla ice cream recipe, from A Perfect Scoop)
2 C heavy cream
1 C skim milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 T vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean, scraped)
1. Combine half of the heavy cream, vanilla and sugar in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring slowly until sugar is dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and add the remaining heavy cream and milk.
3. Store in refrigerator until chilled.
4. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.
5. Store in refrigerator to harden before serving.
6. Serve along side black plum tart.