Oh, summer!

The season of bounty, where fruit is bursting with juicy ripeness and everything is in abundance. It is here. Summer summer summer. Please excuse me while I do a silly dance with my bags overflowing with goodies from the farmers market. Sweet corn is so perfectly crisp and ripe and sweet that it doesn’t need any cooking at all. Tomatoes of all colors, shapes, and sizes are falling out of farmers’ boxes and into people’s mouths, dribbling that wonderful tomato goo down chins old and young alike. And the squashes, oh, the beautiful zucchini and summer squashes which will make many a summer dinner, simply rubbed with salt, pepper, and olive oil and slapped on the grill. Plus, I harvested my first non-cherry tomato today. It was an absolutely perfect Goose Creek tomato and it was stunning just sliced and sprinkled with fleur de sel.

Goose Creek Tomato
Goose Creek Tomato

As if all that weren’t enough to send me sailing away on a cloud of bliss, the stone fruit is incredible right now. I got some pluots at the market today that are so juicy and ripe they feel as if they’re about to burst. Like you could prick them with a needle and they’d just ooze plum-apricot goo all over the place. There’s absolutely no hope of actually cutting them up, but that doesn’t bother me. I’ll just stand over the sink with a bowl of pluots, in a race with the juice running down my arms. I will get you before you fall in the sink, you unbelievably sweet drizzle of goo!

Gorgeous Plums

On Friday, I rode my bicycle from my parents house out to Chino Farm and picked up some beautiful plums and pluots, among other things. For dessert, we ate a delicious plum crumble adapted from one of Ina Garten‘s recipes. It was heaven with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream (yes, from that book) melting alongside. Absolute yum.

Plum Crumble

All this stone fruit is the result of the same weather that made citrus lovers crazy this year: California’s January freeze. The cold winter and the warm, dry spring are giving us more, juicier stone fruit weeks ahead of normal. So go out there and get some!

Plums

For lunch today, I used the corn I got this morning to make a wonderful frittata. Now I know that it’s over 90 degrees where some of you live, and I’m sorry for mentioning turning on the oven. But here in La Jolla it’s only in the low 70’s, and a corn frittata is just perfect for showcasing this great fresh corn. Kernels of crunchy-sweet corn are set off by a light egg custard and brightened by fresh basil. It is summer simplicity at its finest!

Corn and Basil Frittata

This frittata is sweet and creamy like corn pudding, but much better for you since there’s no cream in sight. I love to make frittatas year round, but the summer is the best time. Vegetables are strutting their stuff and you can just toss them in the pan, pour the light custard over and bake for a few minutes, and voila, instant dinner! Feel free to swap out the corn and basil for other seasonal veggies, or even “beef” it up by adding cheese (gruyere is great) or prosciutto.

Corn and basil frittata

2 tbs olive oil or butter
1 yellow or brown onion, diced
4 ears of fresh sweet corn
6 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup basil leaves

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute the onion in the fat in a 10 to 12 inch nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, until soft. Shuck the corn and cut the kernels from the cobs. Taste a kernel or two. If it tastes a little starchy, add the corn to the pan with the onions to cook for a few minutes. If it tastes crunchy and sweet, add it just before adding the egg.

Meanwhile, lightly beat the eggs and mix in the milk and salt to taste (about 1/2 to 3/4 tsp should do it). If the corn is not in the pan already, add it now and stir to combine with the onions. Slowly pour the egg mixture evenly over the arranged ingredients. Raise the heat to medium and cook for a minute (without stirring) so that the bottom forms a bit of a crust. Meanwhile, roll the basil leaves into a cigar and cut crosswise into thin strips (i.e. chiffonade). Sprinkle over the frittata. Grind some black pepper over the top and then transfer the entire skillet to the oven and bake until set, about 10 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

Plum Crumble
Adapted from Ina Garten’s wonderful book, Barefoot in Paris

3 pounds plums, cut in half, pitted, and cut in 1-inch wedges
1/3 plus 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.In a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish, combine the sliced plums, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and 1/4 cup of the flour and toss well.

For the topping, place the remaining 1 cup of flour, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and the salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add the butter and work with your hands or a pastry blender until the butter is the size of peas. Add the oats, and work it with your hands until it’s in large crumbles. Add 1/2 cup of the almonds and mix well.

Spread the topping evenly over the plums, making sure the fruit is covered. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting alongside.

Serves 8.

3 Comments

  1. Posted July 16, 2007 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, what a pretty tomato. It’s so nice to see a tomato that’s red all the way through.

  2. Posted July 16, 2007 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Well, it should be. I picked it less than five minutes before eating it! This is the first time I’ve tried to “garden” since I was in middle school and my family had a garden. It’s been an interesting experience so far.. my tomatoes certainly could be healthier and more productive, but really I can’t complain, given the circumstances!

  3. Posted July 17, 2007 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    yumyumyum!!!!


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