Tag Archives: plums

This is just to say, I have eaten the savoury plum tart

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We are not romantic people, Mr Gander and I. You will not find a bunch of roses on my desk on a certain February morning (dark chocolate is a totally different matter).

Yet, we buy each other little gifts any time of the year. We hold hands in the street. We laugh at each other’s silliness, but are also considerate, even sweet.

Maybe the first sentence should be, we are not conventionally romantic, pink hearts and teddy bears kind of people. Instead it is the kind of affection that goes ‘to the level of every day’s / Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.’ (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

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Which brings me to this savour plum tart. It won’t leave you in a sugar coma. It is savoury, creamy, the caramelised onions setting off sweetness from the plum slices and the crispy tart shell – all of which makes the tart well worth savouring slowly.

It is equally graceful with warm caramelised onions and plums, or at room temperature when the slivers of basil comes to the fore. You will want to come back to this again.

Kind of like a good relationship – right?

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Wanted: one egg, for an almond plum tart

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The egg went AWOL while I made a plum almond tart.

The egg rolled under a bunch of herbs, apparently under the impression we were playing hide and seek. It didn’t make a sound while I whizzed the almond mixture together, or while I pressed it into a tart base. It was only after the tart became gloriously golden and puffed in the oven that the egg peeked around some parsley leaves with a discreet Jeeves-like cough.

Oh hello baker, did you want me 40 minutes ago?

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We didn’t take the almond tart to a picnic (I made some muffins instead, wholemeal, with banana-date jam, chocolate chips, peanut butter). But it seemed a pity to have a tart go to waste, so with suitably gallic shrugs, we dug into it that night.

The tart was … surprisingly good. Loose, moist, messy crumbs clinging to sweet, tart, squishy plums. A marriage of shortbread and almond torte. A concoction of ground roasted almonds, raw sugar, cocoa nibs, cardamom, rose water and lime zest.

I’m not advocating that you leave the egg out of pastry from now on, but I may have found a new favourite crumble topping.

I made the tart again last night with pluots, and remembered to add the egg (woot!). The resulting tart looked much more like an almond torte or a simple frangipane, and still had those deep dimples where the plums / pluots sank into the almond mixture. Work colleagues ate all of it within 2-3 hours – so I don’t have a photo of the real tart (and didn’t get a slice myself, hrmph), but I think that means the tart was a success.

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Autumn, bringing plum blueberry yeast cake

How does autumn tangle
everything so elegantly, as when crimson
replaces the decorous sheen of green?
Such willful ambiguity. I walk steadily.
The soft retreat of chlorophyll asks useless
questions.

Christine Klocek-Lim, Strange Violet Behind Trees (2009)

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I read my obligatory share of poetry at university, but always preferred the hard-edged cutting edge gritty hyper-realism of modernist and post-modernist fiction (who says the academia is impervious to passing whims and fashions?). Christina Rossetti’s nightmarish Goblin Market was fascinating, but generally poems were … elusive, at once capable of too little and too much meaning. Slippery words with many ideas.

Now, I seem to have less time for uninterrupted leisurely reading, I read on the plane, the bus, while waiting for the plane or bus. Unexpectedly, I stumble across a poem like Strange Violets, whimsical, quiet, just a teeny bit dreamy. Like autumn should be.

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For a while, we’ve seen signs of autumn making its way into our city. Even in the heart of the city, I’ve seen small changes in the trees in Hyde Park, the flowering plants in the neighbourhood, and have felt the sneaky previews of a cool breeze. There has been an influx of new season fruits in our markets and shops. I first woke up to fresh fig season (at the time of the episode of dried figs coming out of our ears). And walked into the grocers to crates of plums, grapes, and the last of the summer nectarines and peaches. The stone fruit tempt us with the delicate furs on their skin, honey sweet smell, and promises of lush juices that run down our chins. Then there’s fresh green olives, new apples, dragon fruit, and (for a very little while longer) such a range of berries that I want to feast on berries and nothing but.

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