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August 2018 Newsletter

I was on the receiving end of some DIY finger-wagging last month for not making something from scratch. I am cooking and baking 24/7, or at least it seems that way, so at one point, I shared a video on my Instagram Stories showing all the little projects I had going on in my kitchen all at once, most of them of the DIY variety. I hate throwing things away and try to use everything. But then you're starting another project, which involves more ingredients (and the possibility of more leftover odds-and-ends!), more cooking, and some cleaning

It's always good to remember that everyone has various stages of "being busy," and what's important to some isn't so important (or available) to others. I don't have kids, but if I did, I probably wouldn't be able to do 50% of the things I do. To all of you who have kids out there - I don't know how you do it. I can barely keep up with my own life, let along a gaggle of others.

There's a joke in the cookbook writer's world that at the end of the day, after testing recipes one after the other, all you want for dinner is frozen pizza or Lean Cuisine.

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I love cooking and baking, and am happy to tackle a DIY project. I make my own tart and pizza dough, mustard (sometimes), tonic water, and even though I live in the land of bread, I sometimes make my own bread.

I'm also anti-gaspillage, as they say in French, and am against food waste. I don't save my apple seeds to use as fillings for pillows, but save every plastic container that's ever crossed my doorstep. I use and re-use plastic bags and aluminum foil until they're in tatters. And I fill empty wine bottles, of which there are a lot of when you live in France, with - yup - homemade liqueurs, some of which use every part of the fruit tree, including the leaves. I am sure there's a use for the bark, but I'm not at that stage...yet.

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Speaking of fruit, and being such a stellar recycler of everything that passes through my kitchen, I found myself with a big pot of cooked fruit that was an experiment, which didn't go as planned. Yet I couldn't bear to toss it away because I realize how precious all those cherries, raspberries, plums, and apricots are (and rum! I think there was a whole bottle used in there...)

So I finally unpacked the slow cooker I got 3 years ago (which is next to my sous-vide machine, that I still haven't unpacked either...) and plugged it in when Cathy Barrow suggested I turn it into fruit butter.

I tried cooking the very thick puree on the stovetop for a few minutes, and the fruity mass gurgled and burped, sending huge splotches of searing-hot fruit paste all over the stove, and me, when I tried to get in there and stir it. After transferring it to the slow cooker, a quick 24 hours later, and a fairly substantial clean up of my stove, and kitchen, I ended up with two (little) jars of fruit butter.

Thankfully, that's one project I could cross off my list.

Now, it's on to the next...

- David


Plum Torte Recipe

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I made this plum torte with some prune plums (quetsches) that my friend's kids picked while we were in Burgundy last month. It adapted from the famous recipe from Marion Burros that has a cult-like following. It's super-easy to make and very adaptable; I used a 9-inch (23cm) tart pan but you could use a shallow cake pan, or springform pan, or a pie tin or plate to bake it in. The original recipe noted you could use any size baking vessel, from 8" to 10" (20-25cm) in diameter.

I also used the less-generous amount of sugar recommended in the batter, and some might still find it a tad on the sweet side, so feel free to use the tartest plums you can find. You could also add a handful of raspberries or blueberries, scattered in between the plums too.

If plums aren't available where you are, try it with nectarines, apricots, or peaches. Other adaptations are here.

3/4 cup (150g) sugar, plus more for sprinkling over the tart
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 115g) butter, unsalted, at room temperature
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
12 medium plums, or 18 to 20 small plums, halved and pitted
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Ground cinnamon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Butter a 9-inch (23cm) tart or cake pan, or pie dish.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, beat the sugar and butter until light and creamy. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then mix the dry ingredients into the butter, as well as the eggs, until smooth. (Don't overbeat.)

Spread the batter into the pan and place the plum halves, cut side down, over the batter, pressing them in lightly. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice, scatter additional sugar over the top, as well as some ground cinnamon, if you wish.

Bake until the batter is golden brown in the center, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature, on its own, with whipped cream or ice cream, and a fruit compote, if you wish.

plum tart

Links I'm Liking

Mango frozen yogurt recipe

Why you should never cook at home (Deb Perelman, NYT)

Why are restaurants so (darned) loud? (Vox)

When Amazon reviews are too good to be true… (NPR)

Edd found his Best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (The Boy Who Bakes)

Finally! A robot that folds laundry [Spoiler: The price...] (Foldimate)

Randy dolphin (no, his name isn't Randy...) ruins French beachgoers vacations (The Cut)

Free the animal crackers! (USA Today)

Zoë's Best Ever Chocolate Zucchini Cake Went Viral (Zoë Bakes)

Where all the brocantes (flea markets and bric-a-brac sales) are in Paris this fall, and beyond (Paris.fr)

Love this idea: Catalonia's Pre-Lunch Snack Hour (Taste)

Plum sorbet ice cream recipe-11

Recent Recipes and Posts on My Blog

I shared my all-time favorite Salted Butter Caramel Sauce!

The best of the season in one scoop: Plum Sorbet, which goes great with berries, too.

No visa needed to visit the Republic of Booza, the kingdom of stretchy ice cream that comes in a world of flavors.

No booze? No problem. You just need one bottle to make this one-bottle Scotch Cocktail with ginger and miso.

My Carnitas are a big hit in France.

Coming up next month: Crème brûlée makes a comeback...!

- dl

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