Showing posts with label plums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plums. Show all posts

Friday, August 28, 2015

Plum Torte

by Sheila Connolly

Apple season is almost upon us, so why am I talking about plums? Because they just appeared in our market, and they were so darn cute! So here's the last hurrah for summer.

Technically, these are prune plums—you know, those little ones that you can dry and eat, or that you can stew. When I was young, they were said to be good for the digestion, a theory my mother subscribed to. I was not impressed. But I don’t remember ever seeing the raw variety, which would have been a great size for a kid.

There are various recipes for these little cuties, but this one is fairly simple, and the hazelnut flavor goes nicely with the fruit.

Plum Hazelnut Torte

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.


1-1/2 pounds prune plums

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup hazelnuts
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla (you can add a little hazelnut extract if you have it)

Quarter and pit the plums (the pits come out easily). Coarsely chop half of them, put them in a bowl, and toss with 2 Tblsp sugar.

In another bowl, combine the remaining plums (not chopped) with 2 Tblsp sugar.

On a baking sheet or pan, in the middle of the oven, lightly toast the hazelnuts in a single layer (until you can smell them and they look golden—do not let them burn!). This should take 10-15 minutes. Cool the nuts, then grind them fine in a food processor. [Note: if you toast hazelnuts with the skins on, then rub them between your palms—let them cook first!--most of the skin will flake off.]

Whisk together the ground hazelnuts, flour, baking powder and salt.

In a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) beat the butter and the remaining sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla and the flour mixture until just combined (do not overbeat).

Drain the chopped plums in a sieve, pressing on the fruit to get out most of the liquid, and then pat them dry. (If you don’t the cake will be soggy and won’t cook through.) Stir the plums into the batter and spread in the prepared pan.

Drain the quartered plums the same way, then arrange them, skin side up, over the batter.

Bake the torte in the middle of the oven for 1 hr 20 minutes, or until it is golden brown and a tester poked in the middle comes out clean.

Cool the torte in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Remove the sides or rim of the pan and let the torte cool completely.

You can serve this with whipped cream if you like, or sprinkle some powdered sugar over it. It’s a moist tasty cake so it’s fine on its own.

A Gala Event (Orchard Mystery #9) is coming in just over a month! Just in time for apple harvest season, except the story takes place in December, when the harvest is done--no time for a wedding before that. 

Look for it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

By the way, my own orchard (all eight trees) is doing very well this year.

This is the Hudson's Golden Gem variety

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Welcome our guest, Erika Chase!

Erika Chase writes the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries for Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime.  The first book in the series, A Killer Read, was nominated for an Agatha Best First Novel award. The second book, Read and Buried came out late last year and Cover Story, #3 in the series, hit the shelves this month. Book Fair and Foul is due next year. In a parallel life Erika Chase is also known as Linda Wiken. A former mystery bookstore owner, she is also a short story writer and a member of The Ladies' Killing Circle. She has been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award, Best Short Story, from Crime Writers of Canada.  She loves choral singing and catering to her two Siamese cats.

Take it away, Erika!

* * *

What I enjoy most about summer cooking is the BBQ part. I practically live with this object of my obsession whenever the sun is shining, sometimes in the rain, too. And by my calendar, there are still plenty of good barbecuing days left.

So, when I got this invitation to do a guest blog for Mystery Lovers Kitchen – and thanks so much for thinking of me!! – I decided to go Southern and do chicken. Now, this is a recipe I’ve tweaked to suit my eating tastes and if there’s something that works as a better ingredient for you, then go for it. I think this would be a tasty menu choice for a book club dinner on Molly’s patio. On my patio, too.

It’s nice and simple – prerequisite #1, so enjoy!


2 c. chopped ripe plums (about 2 or 3 depending on size)
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp. chopped red onion
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
½  tsp. sea salt, divided

1 Tbsp liquid honey
½ tsp. ground cumin
4 chicken breasts


Stir together plums, jalapeño pepper, basil, red onion, lime juice, and ¼ tsp. sea salt in a medium bowl.

Stir together honey, cumin and remaining ¼ tsp salt in a small bowl. Rub chicken with mixture.

Grill chicken on a pre-heated BBQ until done, turning over partway through. (My chicken breasts were average size and I grilled for 8 min. each side)

Serve with the plum mixture. Garnish with a slice of lime, if desired.

* * *

Here's a tidbit about the latest in the Ashton Corner Book Club mysteries: COVER STORY
It's time to celebrate when book club member Molly Mathews's childhood friend moves back to town -- complete with a newly-published book. But as the Asthon Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society plan her book launch, Molly is attacked and the books are stolen, the publisher is murdered, and one of their own is taken into custory. The plot thickens when Lizzie Turner and the book club members sleuth themselves right into a counterfeiting ring and yet another murder. 
Molly Mathews hopes you'll enjoy reading COVER STORY and invites you to join the book club for their monthly meeting...and her charming antebellum mansion in Ashton Corners, Alabama.

Visit Erika at
on Facebook at her Author page
and @Erika_chase on Twitter