The markets continue to overflow with the abundance of what some people call one of the five “seasons,” when summer produce continues to be available, and fall produce has arrived as well.
The fruit stands have not one, but three different varieties of pluots, a tasty fruit that is a cross between an apricot and a plum. It stands to reason that since there are a number of colors of plums, such as red, purple and green, there could be pluots in those same colors.
Pluots can be used in cooking pretty much like plums are. They not only are good fruits to eat out of your hand, but they add so much to a variety of dishes. Sliced and added to a salad with a salty cheese such as feta and some sharp greens like arugula is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them. Finish with a vinaigrette dressing and you will dine handsomely.
I recently made a plum sabayon gratin, a dessert, which sounds a bit fancy but is really quite easy to make. For those of you like some of my friends, who tell me I have just strung a whole lot of words together that they have no idea about, a sabayon is a whipped dessert made of a sweet wine, some sugar or honey, and egg yolks, and cooked over simmering water.
It is magical how so few ingredients can be spun into something so ethereal and special. A gratin is something created in a shallow heatproof dish, and cooked by one of several methods to be brown on top. If you want the full recipe, just email me.
Winter squashes of many varieties are in the markets now, and they are so delicious. Butternut or delicata squash are two of the most popular now, and both are very good choices. But if you can find red kuri (or curry) or Hokkaido squash, or Kobacha squash, definitely give them a try.
I like to seed and then peel the squash with a sharp potato peeler, and then proceed from there. A helpful hint for removing the seeds is to use a melon baller, a butter curler, or a citrus sectioning knife, if you have one of those tools.
One of my favorite ways to cook it is to cut it in ¼-inch thick slices, coat the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and roast them in a single layer at 375 degrees until deep golden brown, flipping once to be sure you get both sides brown. The slices are good on their own, and grand with a drizzle of something with a little zest, like nice balsamic or pomegranate vinegar.
There are still fresh berries in our farmer’s markets — strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, all organically grown and delicious. We are so blessed here in California to have such wonderful produce, that sometimes we overbuy, and then what? What happens is we have things in our refrigerators turning bad and moldy.
Here is my helpful hint to stave that off. When I bring berries home I immediately process them as follows:
1. Fill your lettuce spinner half way with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for every quart of water. I usually have 2 quarts, so two tablespoons. It’s okay to eyeball it — no need to break out the measuring devices.