The full moon is rising, a sizzling summer is around the corner, and fresh seasonal fruits are part of nature’s best. This week in the produce section at the store I was greeted with plums — sweet and tart. True, they are not cheap right now but I’ve been craving a plum tart, a rustic free-form tart called a crostata is an Italian type of open pie like an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich. This fruit tart is sort of like a French galette but they can be rectangle shaped — like the one I chose to create this mid-June week as spring is coming to an end.
As a post-graduate student and struggling writer, I cleaned homes for the affluent folks in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of my favorite clients was an Irish woman in her 90s; she lived at Nob Hill in an fourth floor apartment overlooking the bay. One foggy morning when I arrived at 8 a.m., we shared tea as she scrutinized the bag of plums from my neighbor’s plum tree. She made homemade plum tarts for us while I dusted, vacuumed and changed her bed with clean sheets. Once baked, we chatted in her living room amid the breathtaking panoramic view.
She shared tales about her job as an accountant, late husband, and health woes. I told her I was afraid that I couldn’t make my health insurance payment and was going to lose coverage. I cared but not too much because I felt invincible. At the end of the day when she paid me, the check was enough to cover my insurance. I dedicate this recipe to her, another guardian angel that was there for me in time of need as I was for her.
Pretty Plum Rustic Tart
1 store-bought premium pie crust or make your own
5 plums (firm work best like apples), sliced in wedges
8 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon rind
1/8 cup organic strawberry preserves, melted
Line a rectangular pan with parchment paper. Unroll refrigerated single pie crust. Simply shape into a rectangle (it is very easy to do this). Fold edges so they are thick but not perfect to give your tart a rustic look. Fill with plum slices in rows and layer. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon rind. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes till crust is golden and fruit is bubbly. Remove and spread top with preserves and sprinkle top with confectioners’ sugar. Cool. Place in fridge to set. Slice in nice sized rectangles. Serve paired nicely with all-natural vanilla ice cream, real whipped cream, or plain. Serves 8.
A plum tart, like this one, is vibrant in color. Because the store bought pie crust came with two, I made an apple strawberry tart (these berries and Granny Smith apples are now easy on the pocketbook). I used raw sugar, cinnamon, and froze the rectangle masterpiece for a warm summer day. These pastries boast a European flair, are easy on the eyes, and can be served for breakfast or dessert with gourmet coffee. I savored the plum treat at night on the deck under the big, bright moon; it took me back to the charm of San Francisco. Each bite of tart was like enjoying the exciting city lights and calming majestic mountains. It’s this semi-homemade pastry that is preparing my mind for a trip to Europe where food of both worlds will feed my soul.
Motto: Fresh fruit is sweet and comes with memories of heart and home.
Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. Her website is www.calorey.com.