Though there have been so so many special ones, some that come to mind are my friend Joe's birthday party in West Virginia last fall, a cookout 'n' honky-tonk show at the Dollhouse this spring, all of our Portland, Maine Thanksgivings, and almost every NELP dinner. Another one to add to the list, was a very magical communal dinner for which I made this whole what plum crumble tart (and also the tomato-ricotta galette! Which is NOT a pizza).
This communal dinner was hosted by the incredibly wonderful, totally hilarious, creative genius and all-around wonder gal Morgan Hungerford West! Among many other projects that I try but can't totally keep up with, Morgan writes Panda Head blog, and publishes the corresponding magazine. For the upcoming fall issue, she and her Panda Head Mag partners put together a communal dinner for some of the magazine friends and contributors. I can't say TOO much because you'll want to see the full photographic and written treatment in the mag, but I will say that it took place at a rustic local restaurant that we've been wanting to go to (during off-hours) with a long farm table, that there were many many large jars of various types of homemade pickles, homebrew that didn't even taste like homebrew (more like a delicious IPA!), and an incredible spread of GOOD FOOD. And I mean it that way--perfectly prepared homemade food brought by all of the guests and hosts, nothing too fancy or showy, just really really well-done delicious dishes.
There were also lovely place settings--including a communal reading and little buttonhole sewn napkins, good records (the DJing was also communal), and really cool people who were excellent conversationalists! (I think we were sitting amongst a group of butchers, bakers, and candlestick maker--LITERALLY?). So maybe I said too much. But hopefully that leaves you wanting more, and you can find it in Panda Head Magazine's Issue 7. In the meantime, here's something I can tell you more about--that plum tart.
Whole Wheat Plum Crumble Tart
Adapted from The Kitchn, tart crust from Dorie Greenspan
Makes a 9-inch tart, though an 11-inch tart is pictured
For the crust:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
9 Tblsp. unsalted butter, cold & cubed
1 egg yolk
For the crumble:
3/4 c. oats
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
1 lb. plums, pitted and sliced into halves or quarters, depending on size
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
For the crust:
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse to incorporate until the mixture resembles cornmeal and peas. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the dough begins to form together.
2. Roll out the dough and pat it into your greased and floured tart pan. Freeze the tart shell for about 30 minutes while you assemble the rest of the tart. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it tightly over the tart shell. Partially bake it (no need for pie weights) until golden in color, approximately 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil, gently pushing down any part of the crust that has puffed, and bake for 3-5 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature while you prepare the tart crumble & filling.
For the crumble & filing:
1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flours, sugars, cinnamon & salt. Stir in the melted butter and form small clumps with your hands.
2. Toss together the plums, 1 Tblsp. sugar and 1 tsp. lemon zest and arrange over the bottom of the crust. Scatter the crumble on top of the plums, leaving some of the plums visible (you want to see that deep purple color!)
3. Bake about 40-50 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the filling begins to bubble. Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.
Above you can see the plum tart in its natural habitat a.k.a. the Panda Head communal dinner dessert table, though I snapped this pic before an incredible wild blueberry pie appeared out of nowhere! And just so the tart isn't totally overshadowed by its surroundings, you should know that it is a really wonderful dessert for the end of plum season--the whole wheat crumble adds a nice texture and heartiness without being overly heavy (or hippie) and provides a sweet balance to the tart plums. This will definitely be a standby of the season for me, hopefully at many communal dinners to come.