Improvising

I hosted a small dinner party on Saturday where I planned to make a dinner that really highlighted what was fresh at the North Carolina Farmers Market. I picked up some plums, raspberries and blackberries, as I planned on making a plum tart served with berries. I bought some great looking tomatoes and basil for a basic mozzarella and tomato salad. When I got home, every damn thing started to go wrong.

The tomatoes were not that good. In fact, they were a little mealy. But they had decent enough flavor. So I pureed the tomatoes and strained them in a cheesecloth, collecting the tomato “water.” I then cooked the tomato water, reducing it by two-thirds. I added a bit of salt and served this essence of tomato with the mozzarella and basil and just a drop of aged balsamic vinegar. It was a really great starter for our meal and very light.

The other problem was the plums — they were way too hard to just plop on top of a tart, so I decided to poach them briefly in some riesling. I got distracted for a few minutes, and before you knew it, those plums had disintegrated. Ugh. Rather than making a plum tart with berries on the side, I reversed things, making a classic fresh berry tart with pastry creme (glazed with some wonderful blackberry-rosemary jelly I had in the fridge) and served with a plum-riesling gelato. I ran my plum mush through a food mill and made ice cream out of it. Frankly, this worked out better than my original plan, as the gelato was incredibly creamy, tart and just damn good.

So, when life gives you stewed plums, just make ice cream out of it!

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3 Responses to Improvising

  1. who says:

    nice work. being good in the kitchen (in my opinion) is being able to adapt and recover. also, the fact that you can make gelato at home is very impressive.

  2. Alan says:

    I too am impressed by your ability to improvise. To me that’s the sign of a good cook – when things go sour it’s the ability to deal with things as they are and to make the necessary adjustments.

    And many times, what you end up making is better than what you were planning on making to begin with.

  3. We may have to start calling you the “Culinary MacGyver”.

    “All I have is this half of a Hershey bar and a pack of chicken wings…Ah, if I can find some chiles, I’ll make Mole Wings!” 😉

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