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You’ve got the standards done. Now, hmmm, the dessert that no one has had before. Or the dessert that reminds you of Thanksgivings past. Or just the easy dessert that you can make with the help of willing small hands (that’s the Free-form Apple Pie). Three options:
Here’s to happy memories in the Thanksgiving kitchen!
In my family, pecan pie was not really our thing. Dad made something called Chess Pie, and we fondly referred to it as “pecan pie without the pecans” — which we did not miss at all.
On a troll through Grammy’s marked-up cookbooks, though, I found a recipe for pecan pie that caught my eye. Why? No corn syrup. Most pecan pies are held together with a minor bucket-full of light corn syrup. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m a fan of having my sweetness taste like sugar.
A few weeks ago The Washington Post ran their annual Top Tomato Recipe contest. The editors carefully cautioned contestants that there were plenty of good tomato soups and fresh pasta sauces in the world, so entries in those categories better be darn good.
I had no intention of jumping into a crowded category.
Tomato’s a fruit, right? And there are a bunch of other ripe fruits at this time of year, in fact, oodillions of ripe stone fruits and berries, right? So what about a dessert, with tomato balanced by other, sweeter fruit? I set to work.
I figured that Grammy, who always served sliced tomatoes sprinkled with both salt and sugar, would be behind me in this. There are no tomato desserts in her collection, but her tomato conserve loudly proclaims that tomatoes can shine as a sweet.
My first attempt was horrifying. Our friends Klaudia and Peter were generous. “Glmmph, interesting,” they mouthed through fiercely dry cornbready topping. I had dreamed that a cornmeal cobbler crust would be a nice touch. Not so: The heavy and dry topping completely overpowered the fruit. And I had only used peaches and tomatoes, a combination that tilted too much toward acid.
The next try was workable: Add in plums for uncomplicated sweetness and juice, and scale the topping back to a nutty crisp. A bit more tweaking and I was ready to send in the recipe — a mere 17 minutes to go before deadline.
Several weeks later, the call came: My recipe was selected from 158 entries as a finalist. I still smile to think of it. And I am proudly wearing my Top Tomato 2010 shirt for more baking.
Tomato-Peach-Plum Crisp (aka Three-Fruit Crisp)
- 1 pound tomatoes, washed, cored and sliced into thin wedges (about 3 cups)
- 1-1/2 pounds mixed peaches and red plums*, washed, peaches peeled and both fruits thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup pecans
- 5 tablespoons salted butter, sliced into half-inch pieces and well-chilled
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes and stone fruits. In a small bowl, mix granulated sugar with cornstarch; add into fruit mixture and mix well. Pour fruit mixture into a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan.
Put flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and pecans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse the mixture three or four times, until the nuts are finely chopped. Add chilled butter, and pulse three or four times more, just until butter is chopped. (If you start to see clumps, stop. You’re headed for cookie dough.)
Spread topping evenly over fruit. Put pie plate on a cookie sheet wide enough to catch drips, and place the sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until topping is lightly browned and fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or room temperature.
*I use about 1 pound of peaches, ½ pound red plums.
Recipe and photographs copyright 2010 Garside Group LLC