Monday, September 6, 2010

foraged beach plum and strawberry crisp

So this weekend was my first one without wires in over 5 weeks. I celebrated by heading out to Long Island with Nathan. There, we spent time with our respective families and enjoyed ourselves out on the water. In addition to sailing in Northport Harbor with my dad, we also got to take a motor boat out to Fire Island, which was surprisingly beautiful. It really felt like it was miles and miles from anything. Gorgeous.

Here we are out on the beach. The surf was incredibly rough courtesy of the otherwise utterly unimpressive Hurricane Earl, so we couldn't go swimming, but it was still awesome.

That first photo is just a small sample of the mind blowingly beautiful view. What you can't see is that the small, scrubby looking little bushes on either side of the walkway are actually laden with these tiny and tart beach plums. They look a little bit like overgrown blueberries, and are sweet with a tangy bitter aftertaste. Nathan and I had never seen them before, but we foraged a few handfuls, which we transported in my camera case, and took home to bake with.

Like the friendly Fire Island natives who assured us that these strange fruits were edible, my mom knew exactly what the beach plums were, and that they are most commonly made into jam. I like jam, but I don't use it all that often. Instead, I decided to make a nice beach plum crisp for dessert.

Here is the recipe, which either my mom or I clipped from Newsday years ago, although it says it was distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate. Anyway, I was only able to forage a small amount of beach plums, so I had to scale everything way down. We had only enough for four very small servings, so it must have been less than half the amount. I did not adjust the ratios in the written recipe, because I don't think I could accurately represent them. The great thing about crisps is that it's not a real topping, but just a crumbly topping that basically toasts on top of the fruit. It's very hard to mess up.

I also made a few substitutions with the ingredients, so I made those adjustments. The topping called for half butter and half oil, but my mom insisted on all butter, which worked perfectly. I also swapped out a couple of tablespoons of apple juice in the crust for maple syrup. The fruit filling was the most significant change. Originally, it included plums, blueberries and peaches or nectarines. I obviously used beach plums instead, and also strawberries, or else it would have been a little bitty baby crisp. Obviously, you can interchange whatever kind of fruits you have around. Also, I accidentally used regular sugar instead of the prescribed brown, with no ill effects. Finally, the serving suggestion was with vanilla frozen yogurt, but we went with Philadelphia style vanilla. Yum.

Without further ado:

Beach Plum-Berry Crisp
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
¾ cup rolled oats
¾ cup flour
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp maple syrup

Fruit Filling
2 pounds ripe beach plums, pitted and sliced
2 cups sliced strawberries
¼ cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
dash ground ginger

1 qt vanilla ice cream, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400°. For topping, combine sugar, oats and flour in large bowl. Blend in butter until crumbly. Stir in maple syrup with fork until mixture is evenly moistened. Set aside.
2. For filling, combine beach plums, strawberries, maple syrup, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, nutmeg and ginger and toss gently to combine in a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
3. Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until top is golden and filling is bubbling. Let cool about 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm, with vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 servings.

It was slightly tart because of the beach plums, but super delicious and easy. And I got to forage! So cool!


  1. You made the ice cream, I assume?

  2. Nathan wouldn't let me bring home the ice cream maker to Long Island, or else I would have! I will be blogging about my first batch of ice cream as soon as I can!

  3. That is not true. I opined that it was heavy and we both agreed that it was not necessary to bring it to lawn guyland for the weekend due to its weight.

  4. I only agreed with him because he was going to whine if I made him carry it!

  5. Sounds like Sarah's parents need to get their own ice cream maker, to avoid the need to schlep one to the Guyland. By the way, we had homemade (by me)creme fraiche ice cream over a homemade peach blackberry pie (by Zora) on Monday. UNBELIEVABLY GOOD.