I spent a few weeks in Italy recently. It was, as I imagined it would be, glorious. Really and truly.   I ate some of the best food of my life, shopped at some of the most beautiful markets around and spent a good lot of time doing a good lot of nothing with some of the best people I know. I wish I could go back next week.   But since I can't, I thought today I'd talk a little about plums.     Surprisingly, to me at least, we arrived right in the midst of Italy's plum season. The varieties we found were mostly small. Tiny fruit with tiny pits. Jewel red, deep violet and creamy golden yellow. And really, really delicious.     So while back here in chilly Toronto it's not at all the season for plums, for me, it's kinda perfectly timed anyway.     ‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹ FOR THE LOVE OF PIE a series that celebrates the simple things. Today, Nicole & Camille's Plum Tart!   I came to know of Nicole's work via twitter I think. Her drive and passion for photography is unmistakable, memorable even.   I'd known of Camille's work just a little before I think. I remember her collaborations with Karen over at Sunday Suppers, but I'd never worked with her in person. And while I still haven't had the pleasure, I was happy when Nicole suggested they work together.   So then, with no further ado, Nicole and Camille's pretty Plum Tart. Find the recipe and a little more about the two of them below. xo, n     PS: Photos by Nicole Franzen, recipe and food styling by Camille Becerra. Thanks ladies! PPS: If you're celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I think this pie may just be perfect!   WHO? Nicole Franzen & Camille Becerra WHAT? Plum Tart WHERE? Brooklyn, New York     WHY? Plums are one of my favorite summer fruits. A pie seemed like the perfect vessel to hold its juicy ripe decadence. The cornmeal crust recipe is from the Italian baker Carol Field and gives the tart enough structure to hold the saucy plum sauce filling. The balsamic syrup lends a rich finish.    BEST SERVED WITH? Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.   ONE OR TWO THINGS Nicole - gardening, interior design & cooking Camille - hot dogs in the summer and caviar in the winter.     PLUM TART by Camille Becerra CORNMEAL CRUST by Carol Fields 1 ½ stick butter ¾ cup sugar 3 egg yolk 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour ½ cup yellow cornmeal, fine grind ¾  tsp salt ½ tsp vanilla extract   FILLING 3 pounds plums, seeded and sliced 4 tablespoons flour 4 tablespoons white sugar   BALSAMIC SYRUP ½  cup sugar 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar     METHOD Cream butter and sugar together.  Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing in thoroughly before adding the next. Sift flour, cornmeal and salt together and add to mixture.  Finish with vanilla. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Flour dough generously and roll out in between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. Meanwhile while thats chilling, in a small heavy bottomed saucepan mix sugar with a couple tablespoons of water.  On medium to high heat allow the sugar to melt and caramelize till amber. Remove the caramel from fire and immediately add the vinegar a teaspoon at a time, being very careful with the natural splattering that occurs. As the sugar cools you can add vinegar in a steady stream.  Return to fire and allow to reduce till syrupy. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dust tart shell with cornmeal and roll dough onto it. Toss plums with sugar and flour. Arrange the plums into the dough shell.  Place pie on a cookie sheet in the event the plum juices bubble over.  Bake for 35 minutes, remove from oven and brush over the balsamic syrup. Place in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.  
    I know it's not really the season for corn. That the days of butter and salt and kernels from the cob have passed with summer picnics and popsicles from the store. But I'm making it anyway.   Back in July, The Globe & Mail, Canada's newspaper of record, asked me to work on a story about Herriott Grace. It was meant to be a tale about friendship and food and early fall entertaining. A story about what kind of meal I might like to make and share with friends. It was fun.   Lucky for me, two of my favourite people Tara O'Brady and Michael Graydon agreed to join me in the task and we got to working on the perfect harvest meal, smack in the middle of summer.   The recipe here is one of the five that Tara and I came up with. Well she came up with the recipes really, I more chatted endlessly about the food I love, a passtime that she and I have in common. But Tara really is, the one that made it happen. Thanks, T. It was delicious.     Here's what our menu looked like: SANTA CLAUS MELON AND ARUGULA SALAD BRINED PORK CHOPS WITH CIDER PAN SAUCE AND FRIED CAPERS FRESH CORN SAUTÉ WITH FENNEL AND CORIANDER (find the recipe below) BLANCHED BRUSSELS SPROUT LEAVES WITH TOASTED HAZELNUTS ICE WINE GELÉE WITH PLUMS AND YOGURT MOUSSE (find the recipe here!)  

xo, n    
    these cupcakes are pretty i shared this photo on instagram, but here it is again. adorable new work in bon appétit magazine (and here) these shorts these pants these shoes this skirt this tote this post in this post: photos: michael graydon styling: nikole herriott food: tara o'brady large and small plates: mjölk egg coddlers (glass jars): herriott grace
            ‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹ The truth is, I love a crumble almost as much as a pie. I love those tiny bubbles that spatter up around the edges. And how the top stays crunchy and the centre soft. So, when Kimberley suggested crumble as her favourite over pie, I was totally on board.     Her blog is one of those places I'm always come back to. It's genuine in a way that makes you feel like you could breeze in her back door for a cup of soup. For a good long chat about vegetables and markets and just about whatever else.   Her instagram is that kinda place too, genuine and interesting. And beautiful too. And well, I figure that anyone that likes a rice cooker as much as I do is someone I'm meant to be friends with.   So, with no further ado Kimberley and Leela's Peach and Berry Gingersnap Crumble. Find the recipe and a little more about the two of them below. xo, n  
FOR THE LOVE OF PIE — a series that celebrates the simple things.
Me and my sweet pal Leela Cyd.
  WHAT? I loved the challenge of this because I am both gluten free and terrible at making pie crust! My summer go-to fresh fruit desserts have always been crisp or crumble. And it was so much fun to collaborate with Leela - I am a total believer in the whole being greater than than its parts and that's very much the case here. Leela had made a crumble before with a cookie topping; I had originally considered a pressed ginger snap crust but I loved her idea, and the results: a crunchy, sweet and salty cookie topping and the fresh, jammy fruit beneath.
Plus we had so much fun picking blackberries together and happily fatigued in her hot kitchen - it was a scorcher of a day in Portland! And we realized why smart grandmas back in the day would make their pie early, before it got too hot to turn on the oven. Lesson learned! When it was finally done, and photographer, we stood in the kitchen spooning butes of warm crumble and cold ice cream  with her husband and sister-in-law and sweet baby nephew and it was heavenly.
I live in San Francisco, but stopped to visit Leela in Portland, Oregon on my way to Montana. We went to the lovely Sauvie Isalnd to pick blackberries, and picked up the peaches at a farm stand there. I got the blueberries the day before with Camille Storch in Corvallis, Oregon.
This crumble would be perfect on a warm afternoon or evening, outdoors ideally, with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream.
WHY? I adore fresh summer fruit more than almost anything, and crisps and crumbles perfectly encapsulate everything wonderful about summer fruit without a lot of fuss.
I have a huge obsession with mountains and those in northwestern Montana are my favorite. There are grizzly bears, elk, moose and all kinds of other crazy wildlife, not to mention all kinds of interesting, slightly wild, people too. It's the place where I forget one part of me in order to remember a more essential part of me. I like to think of this place as my spirit animal.
PEACH AND BERRY GINGERSNAP CRUMBLE Yield: about 6-8 mini crumbles or one large crumble
2 cups blueberries
2 cups blackberries
2 ripe yellow peaches, pits removed and diced
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon cornstarch
 3 cups Mi-del ginger snaps
1 cup oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar1 heaping tablespoon crystallized ginger, minced 1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the berries, peaches, sugar, lemon juice and spices. Whisk in the cornstarch and stir until blended. Spoon fruit mixture into small (4-6 ounce) containers of choice (oven-safe tea cups, small mason jars or ramekins work great)
In another large bowl, crush cookies with a fork (or your fingers!) so that they are about half-way mashed, leaving a few big cookie chunks. Stir in remaining dry ingredients. Add the melted butter to the dry mix and combine. You may have a small bag leftover with this recipe. It keeps well in the freezer for up to a month - this way you can have impromptu ginger crumble whenever fruit is ripe.
Generously top each crumble with the cookie mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling at the edges. Let cool for five minutes. Best served with some goat milk ice cream!
Photos & Styling: Kimberley Hasselbrink
  FOR THE LOVE OF PIE — a series that celebrates the simple things. Today, Anne & Kate’s Cherry Hand Pies! And that little thing called friendship.       ‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹ I'd planned to tell you all about the goodness that's happened around here in the last month. Planned to tell where we've been and what we've been up to.   I wanted to tell you of our trips to Vancouver Island and New York City. About all the talented folks we've had the pleasure of working with lately.     And of just how extraordinary I think the internet is at introducing like-minded people.     But then I remembered Anne's pie post and I thought, perfect! You see the first day Anne and Kate met in person was the day they got to making these pies. And to me, that's a pretty great thing.   Find a little more about Anne & Kate and their recipe below. xo, n    
WHO? Anne Sage, Blogger at The City Sage WHAT KIND? The official name for this recipe is Cherry Hand Pie. However I've dubbed it Friendship Pie, as I asked my lovely friend Kate Arends to my house to bake it with me. Kate is the blogger at the beautiful site Wit & Delight. We've been online pals for years, but the sunny Tuesday morning when she visited San Francisco was the first time we'd ever met in person! I like to invite people over to bake individually sized foods, such as small pies or pizzas, for example. It provides an activity around which the gathering can center, and it helps to break the ice. WHERE? These little pies are super versatile. Kate and I ate ours fresh from the oven with tea at 10 am, so they were more like a homemade pop-tart breakfast than a dessert. Once cooled, they were packable and portable, perfect for picnics or potlucks. WHY? I have a crippling weakness for cherries, so I'm always on the lookout for recipes that make the most of them. In fact, I've always thought that if I were a fruit I'd be a cherry--a bit sweet, a bit tart, and requiring of some effort to enjoy but worth it in the end.
BEST... ...when made by a team. Because sure, it doesn't actually take two people to prepare these pies, but everyone has a lot of fun when they get their hands in that dough.
ONE OR TWO THINGS: Little known fact: prior to going full-time my various media gigs, I worked as the chef at a tech start-up here in San Francisco. I definitely know my way around the kitchen and have a few culinary tricks up my sleeve that I like to pull out now and then, but on the whole I was quite happy to hang up my apron.
CHERRY HAND PIES Makes 12 This recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs, Spoon Fork Bacon. A collaboration between photographer Teri Lyn Fisher and food stylist Jenny Park, the recipes on the blog are foolproof and the writing is gut-bustingly hilarious. How can you possibly resist commentary like this? "Single serving pastries. The stuff dreams are made of. They prevent a hog situation from arising yet still satisfy everyone."   I tweaked the recipe ever so slightly by adding 1/4 cup granulated sugar to the dough; I knew I wasn't going to be putting the glaze on the pies, so I wanted to inject a little extra sweetness. Though Kate and I both agreed that the real hero in this dough recipe was the cream cheese.
  PIE DOUGH 2 cups all purpose flour ¼ teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes ¼ cup cold cream cheese, cut into cubes 2 Tablespoons buttermilk FILLING 3 cups cherries, pitted and quartered 2/3 cup granulated sugar 3 tablespoons minute tapioca 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 teaspoons almond extract EGG WASH 1 egg 1 tablespoon heavy cream CHERRY ICING (not shown in these photos) ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted 2 tablespoons Kirshwasser 1 tablespoon heavy cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 2. In a bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. 3. Add the cold cubs of butter and cream cheese and cut in with a pastry knife or your fingers until a fine crumble is made. 4. Add the buttermilk and gently work together, until a dough just comes together. 5. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. 6. While the dough chills prepare the filling. Place the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix together until well combined. Set aside and allow the mixture to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. 7. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until ¼ inch thick. 8. Cut twelve 4 inch circles from the dough and fill each with a small amount of cherry filling. 9. Whisk together the egg and cream. 10. Brush the perimeter of each hand pie with the egg wash and fold/pinch together, creating ½ circles. 11. Press the ends with the back of a fork to seal and brush the tops with the egg wash. 12. Using a pairing knife, cut 3 small slits on the tops of each hand pie. 13. Place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. 14. Allow the hand pies to cool completely on a cooling rack. 15. While the hand pies cool, place the powdered sugar, Kirshwasser, cream, and vanilla extract into a small bowl and gently stir together with a fork until fully incorporated and smooth. 16. Drizzle the icing over the hand pies and serve.  
And big thanks to Edyta Szyszlo for the beautiful photos in this post! 
  FOR THE LOVE OF PIE — a series that celebrates the simple things. Today, Aran and Nadia and their Summer Berry and Yogurt Tart!   ‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹ I'm not sure how often it is you come across two people as kind hearted and talented as Aran and Nadia.   Aran's blog, Cannelle et Vanille is one of those places, where magic happens. Where images and words mingle together to tell a story of a passion for food and family that is altogether, inspiring.     Nadia's blog, La Porte Rouge is one of those places too. Written about her and her family's corner of the countryside Nadia writes in a way that reminds you to take note of all the magic out there, of all the good.     And the two of them together make a pretty extraordinary team of whom I'm honoured to have here. Find a little more about Aran and Nadia and their recipe below. xo, n     WHO? Aran Goyoaga and Nadia Dole   WHAT KIND? Summer Berry and Yogurt Tart. Gluten free borwn rice and millet tart dough filled with a yogurt and lemon custard and studded with black raspberries, blueberrues and red currants. But any summer fruit works well for this tart. We love it with nectarines and cherries!   WHERE? Aran is originally from the Basque Country in Northern Spain, but currently resides in South Florida. Nadia is originally from Montreal but lives on the most beautiful hill in Vermont. All the miles apart cannot keep us apart so Aran traveled to Vermont and baked a berry tart in Nadia's kitchen... ah the light there. We shared the tart there with Aran's two children and our friend Romina. 
WHY? Aran loves custard and Nadia likes a crusty pastry. There are many blueberry bushes near Nadia's home and lots of berry picking spots all around. Just couldn't resist.
BEST SERVED WITH? A dollop of vanilla bean whipped cream or ice cream. And rhubarb ginger ale to top it all of.
ONE OR TWO THINGS? Nadia loves fog and Aran wants to roll in a field of wildflowers. And we love to converse. Very much so.      RECIPE: Summer Berry and Yogurt Tart by Aran Goyoaga Makes a 9-inch tart   PASTRY DOUGH 2/3 cups (90 g) superfine brown rice flour (or regular brown rice flour but the superfine gives it a nicer and less grainy texture) 1/2 cup (60 g) millet flour 1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 8 tablespoons (110 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 6 to 7 tablespoons ice water Combine the first five ingredients in the food processor and pulse to aerate. Add the diced butter and pulse ten times until the butter is the size of peas. Add the ice water and pulse until it comes together. It will not form a ball. Transfer the dough to your work surface and knead a couple of times. Wrap it in plastic wrap, flatten it, and form it into a disk. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Dust your preferably cold work surface with superfine brown rice flour. Roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Fill a 9-inch tart mold with the dough. Cut off excess and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Lightly dock the bottom of the tart dough with a fork. Cover it with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove beans and bake for another 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F (180C).   BERRY AND YOGURT FILLING 1/4 cup (50 g) natural cane sugar 1 teaspoon lemon zest 3 eggs 3 tablespoons almond flour 1/2 cup (125 ml) whole-milk yogurt (I love sheep’s milk yogurt) 1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk 2 cups (280 g) summer berries (blueberries, currants, red and black raspberries, blackberries, strawberries… or even stone fruit) Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and rub them between your fingers until very fragrant. Add the eggs and whisk. Add the almond flour and whisk until lump free. Whisk in the yogurt and milk until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prebaked tart. Top with the berries. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the custard is set. Let the tart cool for 15 minutes before cutting. ps: watch out for Aran's forthcoming book, it's sure to be amazing!
PHOTOS + FOOD: Aran Goyoaga PROPS + LOCATION: Nadia Dole