Where we’re from.

November 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

Shane and I had the opportunity to meet some new people a couple of weeks ago, some really fantastic people, we’re feeling pretty lucky.  In getting to know them over burgers, beer and a certain triple layer chocolate cake I got to thinking about the question “Where are you from?”.  I realized it’s so much more than the place you were born or even raised, in my case anyway because where I was born or the places I grew up tell you nothing or everything about who I am. Our commonality may begin in a similarity found there but it may end there too.

My mom’s a gypsy of sorts, she’s always moved to her own beat and let her feet fall wherever the wind took her.  There was never a lack of judgements being made by those who witnessed what I saw as magic.  Sometimes people couldn’t hear the beat she moved to or feel the wind that breezed through her, but she’s always moved forward for her, for us, and I’ll be forever grateful.

I’m from a lot of places, places where there were blackberries plump for the picking come August, my fingers stained with the juices from those picked for jam and canning jars bubbled away in there sterilizing bath; as the late summer sun went down cherry trees cast shadows on my back racing through sprinklers.  Barbecues and bodies swaying, winding up to calypso drums; smoke filled rooms with lots of laughter, winding down to Marvin Gaye. I’m from places where it was okay to cry when you were frustrated, mistakes made and learned from were fashioned into brooches and worn like a badge of honour, never shame.  A place where I heard “Tish, talk to me” as much as I heard “I love you”, really they meant the same thing.  There were road trips in the sunshine, sleds in the snow, beach days and sick days we weren’t really sick.    Our movement gave me steady legs and a strength not found in standing still, my roots are in the motion.  I’m from a place that tastes like home canned peaches but since I don’t have any of those left from last year and I didn’t get a chance to do any this year, my mother in-laws canned plums will stand in.  They’re actually pretty similar to the cherries we canned from that same tree that cast long shadows in our back yard.  Make these and maybe you’ll get a glimpse of where I come from, a place where we took the time, take the time.

I made these turnovers over 2 days, not because it was entirely necessary, I just started late in the day and rushing just wasn’t an option.  Besides, warm, buttery crispness oozing with the bubbling juices of wine colored plums and a steaming mug of coffee  just seemed perfect for a Saturday morning spent with my mom, both of us curled up and cozy in her bed, watching old 80’s movies.

Please don’t be intimidated by the process, it’s really not that difficult.  It is messy, time-consuming and a bit of an upper arm workout rolling that dough, stiff from cold butter.  But I promise if you set aside an afternoon, or like I did start the day before you want them for a late breakfast you will not regret it. Once the smell starts invading your kitchen and nestles somewhere in the back of your mind, even if the place or places you grew up didn’t smell like spiced plums and buttery pastry, where you are now could , and right now is as much the place you’re from as the past is.

 

Canned plum turnovers

Puff pastry, from Annie’s Eats whose pastry recipe estimates 12 turnovers, I got 16.

  • 3 cups  flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (I used salted because that’s all I had)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp  ice water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Plum filling

  • 2 1/3 c canned plums strained and roughly chopped, syrup reserved.
  • 2/3c reserved syrup
  • 1/2tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean or 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1Tbs cornstarch
  • 2Tbs water

 Cinnamon sugar topping, adapted from Annie’s Eats.

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

To make the puff pastry: combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, add about a quarter of the butter cubes and cut in with a pastry blender (you can use two butter knives if you don’t have a pastry blender) until the butter is in dime-sized pieces.  Add the remaining butter and toss to coat the cubes with flour, use pastry blender (or knives) to cut up the butter but leave bigger chunks. 

 

Brian takes care of any jumpers.

Combine the ice water and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Add half the liquid to the flour and butter mixture, and toss just until combined.  Keep adding the liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough kinda clumps together with your hand.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface.  Don’t freak out, it will be dry and really lumpy, and about as far from dough like as it can get…patience, it will work.

Use the heel of your hand to push the dough together into a loosely held together 8×4(ish) rectangular log, you want it to be falling a part a bit still and full of knobby lumps of butter. When you start rolling it you end up with layers of butter between layers of dough.  When it bakes the water from the butter evaporates and that’s what “puffs up” the puff pastry…just in case you were wondering.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured large piece of parchment paper and roll into a 15 by 10 inch rectangle. It will be stiff and cracking at the edges, but again, patience. Resist the urge to mix in the butter clumps, those flecks and streaks are important.

Fold dough into thirds then in half, roll out into a rectangle again, fold into thirds then in half again but don’t roll it out, wrap in saran and pat it into a 6×5 square and refrigerate at least 1 hour, I left mine over night.

On a lightly floured counter roll the dough into a 20×15 inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, trim and cut the dough into 6  squares then cut the squares into triangles, place 6 on each sheet.  Don’t worry if some aren’t perfect, those can be the ones you taste test.  If you haven’t already made the filling put the dough in the fridge while you do.

To make the filling: Roughly chop plums and place in a bowl.  Pour reserved syrup into a pot.  In a small bowl mix cornstarch and water, pour into pot of syrup.  Add nutmeg, scrapped vanilla bean and pod to pot and simmer over medium heat until thick, remove from heat and let cool.  Remove vanilla bean pod then add thickened cooled syrup to plums and mix well, set aside.

To assemble: Spoon 2 Tbs(ish) filling onto triangle.  Just experiment with what works as far as filling placement, you can see in my photos what ended up working for me   Moisten edges of triangle with water, then fold longest edge of the dough over to make a smaller triangle, making sure edges line up and overlap. Dont be afraid to pick it up and pinch and prod at it until it works.  Generally you wouldn’t want to handle puff pasty too much or the butter starts to melt, but if this is your first time making it, as it was mine, it’s not the end of the world, and next time you make them you’ll have a better idea how to handle them the least and get even flakier pastry. Crimp dough together with a fork, refrigerate filled turnovers 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir together until mixed well.  Brush or mist the turnovers lightly with water (I just used my fingers) and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Bake until golden, about 30-35 minutes rotating pans half way through baking. Let them cool on a wire rack,  serve warm or at room temperature.

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