Tag Archives: Plums

Asian-Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

Asian Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

I think most of us in the US would agree that peaches tend to be the heavyweight champions of stone fruit season. But if that’s indeed true, then I’d say that plums are the minor league champs, and deserve their day in the spotlight. And I for one get very excited when these underrated champs reach their peak high season! My local grocery store has them on full display, right there on the sidewalk, both black and red varieties looking proud, plump, and delicious.

black plums

I knew I wanted a savory application for the beauties, and thanks to me buying twice as many corn tortillas than I needed last weekend, tacos began to make a lot of sense. (Due to the excess of corn tortillas, we’ve actually been eating a LOT of tacos around here lately).

plum pico de gallo

I must admit, I’ve never before warmed to the idea of “fusion tacos” – but, well, when you’re eating as many tacos as we have been lately, the idea starts sounding better and better. So that’s where Asian style duck tacos come into play. These are reminiscent of a Peking duck. They marinate in a basic Chinese style combination of garlic, ginger, soy, and hoisin.

Asian Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

The plums actually stand in for, rather than accompany, the traditional tomatoes used in pico de gallo, which gives the salsa a fruitier and very bright taste. Its texture is maybe *slightly* softer than traditional tomato-based pico. But the plums complemented the duck beautifully. I hope y’all will enjoy these!

Asian Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

Source: adapted from Dos Caminos Tacos by Ivy Stark

1 large (1 lb.) duck breast, trimmed of excess skin and fat, patted dry
½ cup red wine (I used a pinot noir)
½ cup soy sauce
2 tbs hoisin sauce
½ tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
1 chile de arbol, crumbled or chopped
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, sliced
¼ medium red onion, coarsely chopped
Slight pinch of kosher salt
4-6 corn tortillas, warmed
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

½ lb. ripe plums (can be red or black variety), pitted and diced
¼ cup finely diced fresh cilantro
¼ medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tbs finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 serrano chile, minced (seeded if you want the salsa to be less hot)
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp sugar, optional
Kosher salt, to taste

Place the duck breast in a large, resealable plastic food storage bag. In a small mixing bowl, combine the red wine, soy sauce, hoisin, lime juice, peppercorns, garlic, cinnamon stick, chile de arbol, ginger, and onion. Pour over the duck breast and close the bag. Massage the bag so that the duck is completely coated in the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Get the duck out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking so it can come up to room temperature.
Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat and let it get as hot as it’s going to get before you start cooking the duck.
Meanwhile, remove the duck from the marinade and wipe off any excess. Using a VERY sharp paring knife, score the skin on the diagonal in one direction, then rotate the duck and score the skin on the diagonal going the other direction, so you have a cross hatch pattern all over the skin. Season very lightly with kosher salt. Place the duck in the cast-iron skillet, skin side down. Cook until the skin is crackly-crispy and the fat has rendered. This will take about 15 minutes total, and you may need to adjust the heat upwards or downwards, depending on how well the fat is rendering. You want it hot enough to do its thing but not hot enough to burn the duck or cook the inside meat too quickly. Periodically you will need to carefully remove the duck with tongs to a cutting board and drain off the rendered fat. If you don’t do this, you’ll be pseudo deep-frying the duck by the end and it will taste greasy.
Once the fat is rendered, flip the duck breast over and cook on the meat side until its internal temperature reads 130 F, about 10 more minutes. Remove the duck to a plate, loosely tent with foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
Prepare the PLUM PICO DE GALLO: combine the plums, cilantro, red onion, garlic, mint, serrano chile, lime juice, sugar if using, and salt. Taste for seasoning, as you may need to add more salt. Adjust as necessary.
To assemble, place the duck on a clean cutting board and slice as thinly as possibly across on the diagonal. Place a few duck slices in each tortilla, then spoon on a helping of plum pico de gallo. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. Serve the leftover pico de gallo with tortilla chips if you wish.

Summer Plum Gin Smash

Summer Plum Gin Smash 116

In the spirit of using up seasonal summer stone fruit while we still can, let’s have a cocktail! This drink…. I have no words. First of all, this cocktail contains gin. And may I just say, I don’t like gin. I rarely make a drink with it, you can’t pay me to order gin and tonics when I’m out on the town, and I firmly believe that doing a shot of gin is one of the circles of hell that Dante had fully intended to write about, before his publisher must have stopped him from doing so. (It’s the only explanation I can think of, anyway…).

summer plum gin smash 109

But you know what? This may be the best cocktail I’ve had all summer. Seriously. I don’t say that lightly. It has gin in it! Did I mention how much I dislike gin? I took one sip and simply didn’t care. This is beyond delicious.

Summer plum gin smash 113

Fresh summer plums get muddled all to hell, then mixed with good gin and thyme, and lemon, and then the drink is strained into glasses where it sits all pretty and pink and out of this world fantastic. Did I mention I don’t like gin?

Summer Plum gin smash 128

So if you saw this and were tempted to pass because you too do not care for gin, then well, you don’t really have much excuse to not make this. It’s one of the best cocktails I’ve tasted, even with all that gin in there. Enjoy!

Summer Plum Gin smash 124

{One Year Ago: Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks}
{Two Years Ago: Spicy Coleslaw, Pulled Pork Sliders, Cherry Sorbet}

Source: slightly adapted from Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails by Eric Prum and Josh Williams

3 cubes cane sugar
4 small summer plums, pitted and quartered
4 small sprigs of thyme (plus extra for garnish)
2 shots gin
½ shot fresh lemon juice

Add the cane sugar cubes, plums, and thyme sprigs to a cocktail shaker. Muddle the ingredients in the bottom of the shaker until thoroughly crushed and the sugar has mostly dissolved.
Add the gin, lemon juice, and ice to above the level of liquid and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
Strain the mixture into martini glasses, chilled if desired, and garnish with some thyme leaves or sprigs. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 drinks.

Plum Poppy Seed Muffins

plum poppy seed muffins 044

Ahh, stone fruit. Those delicious, juicy, sweet things with a maddeningly short growing season. So many stone fruits to choose from, and so little time to enjoy them. Last year I was all about the peaches, so this year I vowed to be more about plums and nectarines. Maybe next year is apricots? But then what about pluots? It gets complicated….

plums 002

Next year can be figured out later; today we shall have these tasty muffins with lots and lots of plum chunks. And poppy seeds too, just for good measure.

Plums 009

These muffins are not savory per se, but they are not high on the sweet factor. Over the years it seems that muffins have inched closer and closer to cupcakes, some so much so that the lines of distinction have grown exceedingly blurry, and oftentimes muffins seem like little more than an excuse to eat cake for breakfast.

Plum Poppy Seed Muffins 038

Not today, my friends. These muffins are taking a stand and declaring themselves to be MUFFINS, and muffins alone. They are emphatically stating that they will not tolerate being confused with their distant look-alike cousins. These are decidedly breakfast food, and they are well aware that we shouldn’t be consuming tons of sugar first thing in the morning.

Plum Poppy seed muffins 051

That said, they are quite delicious, with a soft and impossibly moist texture, studded with ripe plum chunks that pop, and just a hint of sweetness. Enjoy while plums are still in season!

Plum poppy seed muffins 042

{One Year Ago: Nutella Zucchini Muffins, Purple Jesus, Peach Sour Cream Pancakes}

Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

6 tbs unsalted butter
1 large egg
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tbs poppy seeds
2 cups pitted and diced plums, from about ¾ lb of whole plums

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin. Set aside.
First step is to brown the butter. Cut the butter into chunks and add to a stainless steel small pot or skillet. Place over medium heat and let it melt. Once it’s melted completely, the butter will start popping and bubbling and sputtering – this is the water evaporating out. You will see the butter turn a nice brown color and there will be little browned bits hanging out at the bottom of the pan. Once the sputtering and popping has died down to a minimum, shut off the heat. Let it cool slightly.
Add the egg and both sugars to a large mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Now add the butter, including those browned bits floating around, plus the sour cream. Whisk to combine. If your butter is still very warm, drizzle it in slowly while constantly whisking.
In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and poppy seeds. Add to the sour cream mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not overmix, and a few lumps are okay. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the plums.
Use an ice cream scoop (helps to grease it lightly first) to evenly distribute the muffin batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rest the muffins in the pan for about 2 minutes, no more than 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and let them cool completely. Store any leftovers in an airtight food storage container.

Italian Prune Plum Crisp

Italian prune plum crisp

Thank goodness for the lovely Ina Garten, because if it weren’t for her, I might have never known about Italian prune plums. They are a special kind of plum with a terribly short growing season, lasting only a few weeks at the end of August and the beginning of September. Thanks to her, I’ve now tasted them. And they are indeed very special and wonderful.

Italian prune plums

Italian Prune Plums

First off, they’re smaller and more oval shaped than regular plums. Secondly, they are less sweet – much less sweet, in fact. The only recipes from Ina I’ve found using them are desserts, but upon tasting them, I started scheming what I could do with them in savory dishes. I think they might hold up to being grilled quite nicely, in fact. We shall see… sometime…

Italian prune plum crisp, before baking

And since I am now opening up my mind to crisps/crumbles, despite the fact that I remain firmly ensconced on Team Cobbler, I really, really enjoyed this. This would be a perfect dessert for someone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, as the Italian plums aren’t the least bit cloying. It’s certainly one of the least sweet desserts I’ve ever had. And if you can’t find these Italian plums or miss the season, you could sub in regular plums. Though in that case, I would back off on the amount of sugar called for by a little bit. Enjoy!

Italian Prune Plum Crisp

A few recipe notes: these plums are so easy to pit. Most of them came out just using my fingers; use a small cereal spoon for the stubborn ones. Secondly, the crisp topping as written made a little too much. You could back off the recipe by a third if you wanted and that would probably be fine. Lastly, cassis is black currant liqueur. If you don’t have it and don’t want to buy a large bottle for only six tablespoons, I definitely understand. I had some so I did use it, but if I hadn’t found a bottle of it in my liquor cabinet, I probably would have gone with a combination of fresh squeezed lemon juice and water, or maybe another fruity liqueur, depending on what I had lying around. Let me know what you think in the case of substitutions!

Italian Prune Plum Crisp

{One year ago: White Chicken Chili}

Source: slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten

3 lbs. Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered
1 ½ cups brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of kosher salt
6 tbs crème de cassis liqueur
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and diced

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 9×13” glass baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine the plums, brown sugar, flour, salt, and cassis. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, oats, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and stir lightly to coat. Then use your pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture. The mixture should be crumbly and the butter should be the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the plums.
Place the baking dish on top of a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the plums are bubbling and the top is browned. Let cool for about 10 minutes at least. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Plum Pecan Pancakes

Plum Pecan Pancakes

When I stopped to take inventory on which summer produce items I hadn’t properly cooked or baked with this season, plums, along with raspberries, came up woefully short. So a week ago at our weekly Sunday brunch, I decided it was high time to fix that faux-pas. Enter these pancakes. I LOVED them. Sweet plums, crunchy pecans, perfectly cooked pancakes – what’s not to love!

sliced plums

making plum pecan pancakes

making plum pecan pancakes

I also realized that when it comes to stone fruits, peaches are my go-to, which makes sense. Peaches are supremely popular in Texas, and they were far and away the most frequently consumed stone fruit of my impressionable childhood. But when I took my first bite of these pancakes, I forgot how much I adore plums, and how they often become overshadowed by peaches. This stone fruit season may be ending, but there’s always next summer. So, you have my full blessing to hold me to it – next summer, there will be more plums!

plum pecan pancakes

A recipe note: the original recipe said to slice the plums, then add them to the pancakes before flipping them, exactly like I did with these amazing peach pancakes. I tried that on the first batch, and it didn’t really work. The plums didn’t adhere and become part of the pancake batter; instead they fell off, or stuck to the griddle, and just generally looked like a hot mess. So I discarded the first two pancakes, and folded the sliced plums into the batter. Worked beautifully! That’s what I would advise you to do from the get-go. You could either chunk the plums into smaller pieces, but plums are so small anyway, that I found that unnecessary. They really did work just fine sliced. Enjoy these!!

Plum Pecan Pancakes

{One year ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream}

Source: adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, August 2007

3 plums, pitted and sliced
4 ½ tbs sugar, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the griddle
¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Maple syrup, for serving

In a medium bowl, toss the plum slices with 1 ½ tbs sugar and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tbs sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter until combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Add pecans and whisk until just incorporated. Add the plum slices and fold into the batter.
Brush a nonstick griddle or skillet with butter and heat over medium to medium-low heat. When it’s hot, pour puddles of batter, about ¼ cup each, onto the griddle. Cook until golden brown on the bottom and bubbles start appearing on the top. Flip and cook about 2 more minutes, or until cooked through. Test with a toothpick in the center of a pancake. Repeat with the rest of the batter; don’t forget to grease the griddle with more butter between batches. It may be necessary to adjust your heat level as you go. Serve with maple syrup.