The KCET Food Recipe Contest: Plums, Pluots, Apricots

Photos by A. Rios/R.E.
The contest is now closed.
Our glorious California summer fruit season is in full swing, so KCET Food and the Hollywood Farmer's Kitchen are celebrating it with this month's recipe contest. The featured ingredients: plums, apricots and pluots!

A pluot, still a relatively unknown fruit, is a hybrid of a plum and an apricot. It's sweeter than a lot of plums, but firmer than an apricot -- we have Luther Burbank to thank for coming up with the mix, though he called them plumcots. There are now a number of varieties available throughout the season: The fruits are bountiful at Southern California farmers' markets now and for the next couple of months (the specimens in the photos are from the Malibu and Palisades markets), so buy local if you're able!

The creator of our very favorite recipe will win a gift basket full of goods made in Southern California, including:

  • Three bags of flavored almonds (ginger, coconut and rosemary) from Wasco's Fat Uncle Farms

  • A Hungry Tiger Hot Sauce t-shirt from Flavour Gallery in downtown L.A.

  • A jar of balsamic barbecue sauce from David's Unforgettables in San Fernando Valley.

  • A can of olives from Graber Olive House in Ontario.

  • Fresh pasta, lemon-artichoke tapenade, sun-dried tomato pesto and a jar of sun-dried tomatoes from Domenico's Foods in Beverly Hills.
No recipe is too simple or too complicated; as long as one or all of the three fruits are the primary ingredients, it's a contender. Just be sure to submit the recipe by 3 p.m. on Friday, July 27, 2012.

Leave it in the comments section below or email it to
Living editor Katherine Spiers
by the deadline. We'll spend the week with Chef Ernest Miller of the HFK cooking and tasting the submissions, and the winner will be announced at noon on August 2.

Happy cooking!

Eat better by following KCET Food on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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plum yogurt bread:

ingredients:
1.5 cups + 1 TB Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cups white sugar
1/3 cup egg whites
1 whole egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted Coconut Butter
1 medium pear, peeled and diced
4 fresh plums, diced

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees, grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In one bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Put the yogurt, sugar, egg/egg whites, vanilla, and coconut butter in another – whisk well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones gradually, whisking the entire time.

Fold the plums into the batter and pour into the loaf pan.

Bake for about 70 minutes (covered with foil for the last 15) or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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plum yogurt bread:

ingredients:
1.5 cups + 1 TB Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cups white sugar
1/3 cup egg whites
1 whole egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted Coconut Butter
1 medium pear, peeled and diced
4 fresh plums, diced

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees, grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In one bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Put the yogurt, sugar, egg/egg whites, vanilla, and coconut butter in another – whisk well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones gradually, whisking the entire time.

Fold the plums into the batter and pour into the loaf pan.

Bake for about 70 minutes (covered with foil for the last 15) or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Cotton Candy and Watermelon Pluot Salad
(see a photo here)

To make one serving, take one cotton candy pluot and one watermelon pluot -- both chilled -- and slice, and mix in a bowl. Squeeze a half lime over fruit. Add 1.5 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, preferably aged for a sweeter taste (or use a balsamic glaze or maybe a reduction). Mix and top with fresh mint leaves. For a twist, dash sea salt sparingly

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Recipe: Summer Desert
Serving 1
Ingredients:
2 Plums
1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Honey
1 Scoop Vanilla Ice Cream
Directions:
1. Wash plums, halve each plum, remove seed and cut each halved plum into 2-3.
2. In a skillet, heat butter. When the butter is melted, put cut plums into the skillet and cook until browned. Then place them on the plate.
3. In the same skillet, put balsamic vinegar and honey. Heat over medium low heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour the sauce over plums.
4. Put vanilla ice cream on plums and serve.

I put vanilla ice cream on top but vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt with honey/maple syrup/sugar or cottage cheese also work well.

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Lemon Apricot Walnut Bars
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon zest
1/3 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
2/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
12 oz apricot preserves (approx 1 jar)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest and cardamom. Stir in flour mixture, followed by oatmeal and walnuts.
Take two cups (about 2/3) of the dough and press it into an even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan. You can use a little extra to patch any holes, though the layer should not be too thick.
Spread apricot preserves into an even layer on top of the base.
Crumble remaining dough with your fingertips and sprinkle evenly over the apricot layer.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bars are lightly browned and apricot filling is bubbling.
Allow to cool completely in the pan, then lift out using the aluminum foil and cut into bars.

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Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds (see Notes)
1 total pound mixed apricots preferably Blenheim, Pluots and Yellow plums
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup diced red onion, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 to 1/2 red jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and cut into rings crosswise as thinly as possible
1 tbsp. coarse kosher salt
1/2 lemon, cut into thin slices
4 halibut or salmon fillets (6 oz. each and 3/4 in. thick)

Preparation

1. Put oil and mustard seeds in a skillet, cover, and heat over medium-high heat. They'll start popping wildly. When the popping sounds die down, remove from heat. Let cool slightly, uncovered.
2. Halve and pit apricots, pluots and plums; cut into 1/2-in. dice. Put diced into a large bowl and toss gently with lemon juice, onion, cilantro, chile, and mustard seeds with oil. Stir in 2 tsp. salt and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
3. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels and fill half-full with water. Add 1 tsp. salt and lemon slices. Heat water over medium heat until gently simmering. Add fish and cook, covered, until just opaque in center (cut to check), 5 to 8 minutes.
4. Transfer fish with a spatula to a platter and chill at least 20 minutes. Season with salt to taste and serve cold, with salsa.

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Baked Apricot Caramel French Toast

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups peeled, diced fresh apricots
12 1-inch thick French bread slices
6 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine sugar, butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until smooth and thickened, stir constantly. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour butter mixture into the dish. Sprinkle diced apricots evenly over butter mixture. Fit bread slices tightly into the dish, trimming if necessary. In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, vanilla and salt whisking together well. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate for eight hours. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Slice into sections and serve upside down. Garnish with whipped cream or whipped butter.

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Baked Apricot Caramel French Toast

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups peeled, diced fresh apricots
12 1-inch thick French bread slices
6 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine sugar, butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until smooth and thickened, stir constantly. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour butter mixture into the dish. Sprinkle diced apricots evenly over butter mixture. Fit bread slices tightly into the dish, trimming if necessary. In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, vanilla and salt whisking together well. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate for eight hours. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Slice into sections and serve upside down. Garnish with whipped cream or whipped butter.

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Plum Streusel Cake
This recipe is from my blog at www.petite-indulgence.com
So here is what you need for the dough/batter for a 9 inch spring form pan:

250 g Flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar (I prefer C&H superfine)

50 g butter, unsalted cut in small pieces

1 envelope of Red Star Yeast

200 ml milk, lukewarm

dissolve the yeast in the milk

1 egg, slightly beaten


In a bowl combine the flour, salt and sugar, then while mixing (I used the paddle attachment on my KitchenAid Artisan) add the little butter pieces, slowly add in the milk/yeast mixture and then the egg. Mix the dough well until all the butter pieces are well incorporated and the dough is nice and smooth.

Spread the dough in the prepared spring form pan and let it rise until it is double in size.

While the dough is resting you can prepare your "Streusel" and your fruit topping.


For the "Streusel":

40 g flour

60 g sugar

60 g ground almonds

50 g melted butter, unsalted


Mix the flour, sugar and almonds in a small bowl, pour in the melted butter and stir until little lumps form, set aside.

Fruit:

4 medium size plums, cut in eights


Once your dough has risen to about double the size, arrange your fruit on top of it in a nice pattern, top with "Streusel" and bake on the middle rack of the preheated 425F/220C oven for about 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool down and serve! But it also tastes fabulous right out of the oven! This works with plums, apricot and pulot

Enjoy!

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Whole Wheat Plum Crumb Bars
yield 1 9x13 pan

For the Bottom Crust

6 ounces/170g butter, melted and cooled
3.5 ounces/100g sugar
4.5 ounces/127g all purpose flour
4.5 ounces/127g whole wheat flour
3/4t salt
2t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º and line a 9x13 baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Lightly grease the inside of the pan.

1. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add in the melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir gently until a dough forms.
2. Pat the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Slide the pan into the oven and bake until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling and crumble.

For the Filling
The plums I used for this recipe were quite tart. The amount of sugar listed below sweetened them gently while leaving some of that lovely tartness behind, which was perfect. If you are working with sweet juicy plums, you might want to cut back on the sugar a bit.

1lb plums (I used a combination of red and black plums)
1.75 ounces/50g sugar
1/2t ground cinnamon
1t ground cardamom
2t vanilla extract
.5 ounce/14g flour

1. Pit and roughly chop the plums. Put them in a bowl and add the sugar, spices, vanilla and flour. Toss gently to combine. Pour over the cooled crust.

For the Crumb Topping

6 ounces/170g soft butter
3.5 ounces/100g rolled oats
2.25 ounces/64g all purpose flour
2.25 ounces/64g whole wheat flour
5 ounces/120g sugar
1/4t baking soda
1/2t salt

Preheat oven to 375º

1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flours, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add in the butter and use your hands to work it into the mixture until it holds together in medium sized clumps. Sprinkle it evenly over the plum filling.
2. Slide the bars into the oven and bake until the topping is golden brown and the plums begin to release their juices, 30-40min. Cool completely before slicing.

This is one of my new favorite summer desserts.

Poached Apricots with Lavender Cream
Ingredients

For Poached Apricots

6 Apricots, or your fruit of choice (cut in half and pits removed)
2 Cups Ginger Ale
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Strips Lemon Peel
1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract

For Lavender Cream

1 Tablespoon Dried Lavender (make sure you use edible lavender)
2 Teaspoons Lemon Zest
1/2 Cup Half and Half
1 Tablespoon Honey
8 Ounces Mascarpone Cheese

Garnish

Crushed Pistachios (or Almonds)
Lavender Flowers

Instructions

For Poached Apricots

Set the apricots aside.
Add the ginger ale, sugar, lemon peel and almond extract to a small saucepan.
Heat pan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and bubbles are forming. (Stirring occasionally.)
Add in the apricot halves and make sure the liquid is barely boiling, leave them like this for 3 - 4 minutes. (You just want them soft, not falling apart mush. The time you need could vary a little depending on how ripe your fruit is, so keep an eye on them.)
Turn off the heat and leave the fruit in the poaching liquid. Let them cool in the poaching liquid.

For the Lavender Cream

Bring the half and half just to a simmer (small bubbles appear at the edges of the pan) and remove from heat.
Add the lavender, lemon zest and half and half to the warmed half and half. (Stir to combine everything.)
Let mixture cool to room temperature.
Strain the cream mixture, to remove the lavender and lemon, into a medium size bowl.
Add the honey and mascarpone to the cream mixture.
Thoroughly blend these together either with a whisk or stick blender. The mixture is going to be creamy (thick liquid) and not like a whipped cream.
Put the lavender cream in the refrigerator and chill thoroughly (at least 4 hours).
Dish out some of the cream into each dish.
Top with 2 halves of apricot.
Garnish with crushed nuts and lavender flowers.
Serve.

Quick notes

You may have some lavender cream left over. It depends on how generous you want to be with the cream when you're dishing it out. You'll get roughly 1 1/2 cups of lavender cream from this recipe.

You can save the poaching liquid and use it to poach more fruit (which, if you are making a large bowl of this you'll need more fruit than the 6 in this recipe) or reduce it down further and use it as a syrup.
Variations

Feel free to use whatever fresh fruit you prefer for this recipe. Or maybe no fruit at all.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

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Apricots in a Creamy Bed Tart
Ingredients:
For the pie crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting and rolling
½ cup cold butter diced
About ¼ cup cold water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
For the pastry cream:
4 egg yolks
½ a vanilla bean or 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups of milk
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon sifted all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons of sifted cornstarch
Apricots in vanilla light syrup:
3 cups of apricots in a bowl, sliced and without seed
1/4 cup honey
Preferably 1/2 a vanilla bean or 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 cup water
1 beaten egg white
And 1 tsp. sugar
Directions:
To make the pie crust, in a large bowl mix the 1 cup of flour, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. of sugar. Add the ½ cup of diced butter using a fork to combine the butter with the flour mixture until it’s crumbly. Add a tablespoon of the ¼ cup of water, then mix and repeat until the water is gone. Knead the dough with your hands. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and place your dough on the sprinkled flour surface. Add flour to the rolling pin and roll out your dough turning the dough constantly until finished rolling. Move the pie crust to a 12 inch pizza pan or large cookie pan big enough for the pie crust and set aside.
For the pastry cream, heat the 1 ¼ cups of milk in a saucepan in medium heat along with the 1 tsp. vanilla extract, but if using the ½ a vanilla bean cut in between and drop only the inside (seeds) into the milk until milk starts to foam. Meanwhile in a bowl, stir the 4 egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar until well combined. Then, add the sifted 1 tablespoon of sifted flour and 1 ½ tablespoon of sifted cornstarch and stir until well combined. Once the milk is done (at foaming point), gradually add it to the egg mixture, whisking. Pour back this mixture into the saucepan and heat again, keep whisking until mixture starts to thicken. Once thick, transfer to a bowl and set aside. It should be smooth with no lumps.
For the apricots in vanilla light syrup, if using the ½ vanilla bean, cut it and remove seeds. In a clean saucepan, combine the 1 cup of water, ¼ cup honey, and the removed vanilla seeds. Heat until hot, mixing constantly, but not until boiling or near boiling. Once done, drizzle over apricots and set aside.
Spread the pastry cream in the center of the pie crust leaving about 2 1/2 inches all around the edges. Brush the egg white around the 2 1/2 inch pie crust edges. Strain the apricots and place them in circles over the pastry cream. Fold up the 2 1/2 inch edges of the pie crust over the filling and sprinkle sugar over the top of the folded edges. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden and the apricots are browned and have crispy edges. Remove from the oven, let cool, cut in triangles and serve!