Here’s three dishes made with classic farmers’ market stuff, but worth a bit of extra effort. I wrote about them in the News, agonizing over how to make the most of my three choices. Making them on one morning for the photographer was a bit of a hustle – but it beats working.
Russ Parsons’ book “How to Pick a Peach” proved the best match on two of the recipes, a tomato tart built on supermarket puff pastry, and a plum cornmeal buckle. The green chile cheddar corn pudding is based on a standard formula, but mine is crunchy from additional kernels sliced from the cob.
Here’s how to get it done.
Inside: tomato squash tart recipe , green chile cheddar corn pudding recipe and plum buckle recipe, with up-close photos of the dishes.
Tomato and summer squash tart
Inspired by Russ Parsons’ “How to Pick a Peach”
Parsons’ recipe is for an all-heirloom tomato tart. But the tomatoes I’ve seen locally so far have been less than fabulous, making the squash a natural partner. Besides, it looks pretty.
A note about puff pastry: Don’t open the paper inner envelope until you’re ready to use the dough. It’ll start drying out in an hour.
1 package puff pastry sheets (from frozen foods section)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, sliced thin
2 large, fine tomatoes
1 yellow summer squash
Olive oil for drizzling
1 ounce pecorino pepato or similar cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Remove the puff pastry from freezer and defrost in the refrigerator for two hours.
With a sharp knife, slice the tomatoes as thinly as possible. Try for whole circular slices, or at least half-moons. Set the slices on a sheet pan, salt them well, and wedge something under one end of the pan to help the tomatoes drain.
Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil and onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are brown and sticky, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, slice the squashes thinly. Using the remaining olive oil, cook in batches over medium-high heat until slightly browned and softened.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Unfold puff pastry sheets. Beat egg. Using it as glue, join two sheets by painting an inch on the end of one sheet, and pressing the edge of the second sheet to it, gently smearing over the seam with a fingertip. Carefully move pastry to nonstick sheet (silpat) or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Scrape the onions onto the pastry, arranging for coverage. Place vegetables in rows of overlapping slices. Curl up the edges of the dough into a crust, cutting notches in the corners if overly thick. Paint the exposed dough with egg.
Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, and shave cheese over the tart. Place in oven, and bake until the pastry is dark brown and puffy, about 30 minutes. Shower with torn basil immediately. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Green chile cheddar corn pudding
2 cups grated corn and juice
Kernels sliced from 2 more ears
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour
1 7-ounce can roasted green chiles
1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter dish and dust with crumbs.
Grate corn into bowl. Add milk, sugar and salt and beat with immersion blender or electric mixer until frothy, about 3 minutes. Beat in 1 egg at a time, then the flour. Fold in chiles, most of the cheese and corn kernels.
Pour batter into baking dish. Scatter remaining cheese over top. Bake until browned and puffy, about 35 minutes.
My wife, Kathy, was eager to use some beautiful, plump red plums and baked them into a cobbler. The result was so juicy it could have been served in a glass.
We puzzled over what to do with the rest of the plums. It was Parsons to the rescue again, with a recipe for buckle. That’s a cakey, cornmeal-enriched cousin of cobbler, able to soak up all the plummy flavor.
The original recipe calls for pouring the batter into a 9-inch pie plate. My version expanded mightily in the oven, overflowing the dish. A more experienced baker would probably know exactly why that happened. All I can say is, you might want to use a bigger dish.
Cornmeal buckle with plums
From “How to Pick a Peach”
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 pound plums, pitted and cut up
For the topping, cut butter in eight pieces and put in food processor with sugar, flour and salt. Pulse until the texture of coarse crumbs.
For the buckle: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish, like a 9 by 13. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
In another large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter with the sugar and egg until the mixture is fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add half the milk and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the rest of the milk.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until well moistened. The mixture will be the texture of cake batter. Fold in the plum pieces. Pour into the pie plate and spread evenly. Scatter the topping mixture evenly over the top. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Serve warm.
If you have to, though, you can make this dessert a day ahead. Cover with foil overnight. If possible, warm for 15 to 20 minutes in a 300 degree oven before serving.