Vail Simply Seasonal: Palisade plums are perfect autumn fare
Vail, CO Colorado
The crisp Colorado climate is perfect for growing nearly all stone fruits, and the Western Slope town of Palisade is host to orchards of many. Pears, apricots, apples, cherries, plums, peaches and nectarines all benefit from the cool summer evenings and hot, windy days. The trees go dormant in winter, bloom in early spring and bear fruit from May through October.
Plums are a natural deciduous choice for the home grower. They are reliably prolific and demand less care than most fruit trees. In addition to the delicious harvest, the trees are a graceful touch to the home landscape.
Most plums fall into two categories – Japanese or European. The Japanese-American varieties produce large, clingstone fruit during late summer. They tend to have juicy yellow or red flesh and skin colors that range from crimson to black-red.
European plums are blue or purple with golden yellow flesh; they are freestone varieties. They tend to be more tart and less juicy than Japanese. These are the plums that are dried to what we know as prunes.
High in carbohydrates, low in fat and calories, all plum varieties are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and fiber. They can be eaten fresh off the tree, cooked in savory dishes or baked into desserts.
“With the onset of fall and hunting season, a plum glaze is a perfect match with game birds,” said Avondale’s Executive Chef Jeremy Kittelson. “Try this recipe for duck, cornish game hens, or squab.”
In desserts, the delicate flavor of plums works well with savory complements. Larkspur’s Pastry chef, Mark Metzger offers an elegant take on the homespun ‘crisp’.
“Adding blue cheese and a pinch of sage to the crumble is a delicious combination with the fruit,” he said.
2 inch stalk lemon grass
1/2 inch piece peeled ginger
1 Tablespoon minced shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cardamom pod
1 1/2 quarts plums, halved and pits removed
2 Tablespoons pomegranate juice
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
Tie first seven ingredients in a sachet, then place it in a saucepan. Place remaining ingredients except lime and fish sauce in the pot and simmer on low until plums are very soft. Remove from heat. Add lime and fish sauce, puree until smooth. Adjust consistency with water if too thick. Use as a basting liquid for game birds or pork. Yield: 2 cups
Plum nectarine crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white sugar
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In mixer place flour, sugar, salt and cold butter. Mix until butter is the size of a pea and add yolks, vanilla, red wine vinegar. Mix until almost incorporated then continue by hand off the mixer until uniform. Wrap in plastic and let rest in fridge for 30 minutes. Roll dough to 1/8″ and fit into a 9 inch pie shell sprayed with cooking spray. Line the crust with parchment, fill with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes at 350° or until light brown and dry, set aside.
Plum- nectarine filling
3 cups chopped plums skins off (about 8-10 plums)
3 cups chopped nectarines skins off (about 5-6)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons corn starch
1Tablespoon lemon juice
Toss all filling ingredients together.
Brown sugar crumb
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sage
6 ounces melted butter
1 ounce blue cheese, melted
Melt butter, let cool. Mix butter with blue cheese. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together to fully incorporate. Pour in melted butter and cheese and mix together until crumbly.
To assemble add filling to pre-baked pie crust. Top generously with crumb and bake for 20 minutes at 350° or until the fruit filling oozes and bubbles over the edges. One 9″ pie.
Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, (larkspurvail.com) at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale, (avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market driven menu.