Word of the day: plumdom.
Dough fat of the day: olive oil.
Writer and NPR alum Frank Browning explains all below.
Wild Plum and Pear Tart
(From Frank Browning)
2 lbs small wild or seckel pears, cut in half, skin, stems, blossoms and all
25 or so round blue hedgerow plums (or any other tart plum you can find); the quantity depends upon the size of your pie/tart
1 teaspoon of freshly ground cardamom seeds
3/4 cups raw cane sugar plus a tablespoon of plain white sugar
Cut the pears in half and simmer in just enough water to come one-third of the way up the fruit; simmer gently until the plums are soft, then press the cooked pears through a food mill to separate the flesh from the stems, seeds and skin. (If they’re wild, there may be worms; don’t worry about it–they’re cooked and dissolved.) Turn the pear “sauce” into heavy bottom pot, add the cane sugar and the ground cardamom seeds. Simmer slowly–about 20 minutes–stirring regularly until thickened. Set aside and cool.
Cut and seed the plums in half and lay them out in a flat pan or bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Let them rest an hour or so to draw out some of the juice.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the pie pastry in the pie pan and pinch the edges. Turn the cooled pear butter into the pie and smooth out. Then place the plums, skin side up, in rings starting at the outer perimeter until the pie is full. Place the tart on a low rack in the pre-heated oven. After 10 or 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 300 degrees. The lower temperature will avoid burning the crust while drying out the excess plum juice. After 30 more minutes, wet your finger in cold water and touch one of the plums to feel if it’s fully cooked. (I once new a New York chef who tested everything that way–even bubbling hot honey; he claimed the cold water on the finger protected him from burns, but you do it at your own risk.)