The Beginning of the End


Well, that’s not meant to sound so ominous.  It’s just that summer is finishing and fall is nearly begun and maybe it’s my favorite time of year for seasonal eating.  I like the idea of late-summer tomatoes colliding with autumn squashes and those types of transitional pairings.  Plus, I have a creepy cold-weather lust.

September always seems to be about eggplant for me, how to vary it and use it up while it’s fresh.  My first time growing eggplant this year and they are truly cheery and fecund, but how to keep up?  I can count on one hand the folks I know who truly adore eggplant.  I’m one, but even I can grow tired.  Yesterday, I chopped a good bit of eggplant, sauteed it in olive oil, added it to the end of a homemade, simmering garden tomato sauce, and served that over fat egg noodles.  Voila!

I’ve noticed that local apples are beginning to show up at the market.  Apples are so easy to just eat by the hand, but I always get into baking mode this time of year, and what better fruit than the apple?  At the Saint Paul Farmers Market you’ll a few good apple vendors selling their fruit in those crisp, paper bags.  Try some new (or heirloom) varieties this year, there are always new ones popping up.  I’ll leave you with a tried-and-true apple dessert recipe.

Happy eating and happy baking!

Caramelized Fruit Skillet Tart

Serves 8

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

3 cups fruit (chopped into 1/2 inch cubes) such as pineapple,

apple, pear, nectarine, mango, banana or any berries

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup whole wheat flour (or additional all-purpose flour)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ cup white sugar

1 large egg

¾ cup plain, whole-milk yogurt (or buttermilk)

Turn on the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the middle.  Melt the butter in a large (10-inch) skillet, with an ovenproof handle, preferably nonstick, over medium heat.  Swirl the butter in the skillet until it turns nut-brown, then pour it into a medium-large bowl.  Without wiping out the skillet, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom.  Top with the fruit in an even layer.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Add the white sugar to the browned butter and whisk until thoroughly combined.  Whisk in the egg, then yogurt.  Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ones and stir only to combine.

Pour the batter evenly over the fruit in the skillet.  Slide the skillet into the oven and bake about 35 minutes, until the tart is golden brown and springy to the touch at the center.  Remove and let cool 10 minutes.

Invert a plate over the skillet, then, holding the plate and skillet firmly together with towels or pot holders, invert the two in one swift movement.  Remove the skillet, and the tart is ready to serve.