Plum Bruschetta With Chamomile Vinaigrette (Plus a Cocktail Pairing)
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The arrival of autumn looks a lot different out here in California. My childhood memories of Midwest apple cider and the donuts that came with them, not to mention wearing a sweater, are a little harder to come by in the Golden State this time of year. But there is a different kind of charm that we get to experience: warm afternoons followed by brisk evening fog rolling in, magical pink cotton candy sunsets and the lingering opportunity to spend time entertaining outdoors. Not to mention the farmers market! We’re still producing some pretty serious summer bounty well into autumn. Peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and plums still overflowing - in fact, we’ll get some pretty peak plum season happening through the end of October, which is why we’re celebrating the change of seasons with exactly those in mind.
And what better way to put on a California-worthy fall-feels happy hour than to grill up these gem-colored fruits and pair them with a combo of fresh herbs, a unique home-infused vinaigrette and a killer cocktail? Sound like a plan?
When putting together this dish I really wanted to hold tight to the garden bounty that we get to enjoy nearly year round. So why roll in the complex flavors of herbs de Provence with a dried seasoning blend when we can replicate that unique flavor with all things FRESH!?! (aka: basil, fennel, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme from the garden - with a kick of dried lavender and fennel pollen we have stashed away from previous harvests) Has anyone tried this fresh version before!? And if so, why weren’t you screaming it from the mountain tops?! Fresh “herbs de Provence” is my new favorite everything-seasoning and we’re going to start showing it off on this perfect little happy hour appetizer.
Speaking of pure ingredients, we’re also shaking up a chamomile infused Gimlet using Hangar 1 Honeycomb Vodka. This vodka is infused with honeycomb, not just pure honey, so the finished product is unique and extremely versatile. Not only that, they use the rawest form of honey, actual honeycomb sourced from their local farming community – Golden Harvest Bees, located in Redwood City, CA. High fives all around!
Are we ready to get this happy hour started? Good, because we’re going to need to get onto infusions first - here we go!
PLUM BRUSCHETTA WITH CHAMOMILE VINAIGRETTE
2-3 lbs of mixed plum & pluot varieties, cut in half and pits removed
Fresh Herbs: Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram, Tarragon
Dried Herbs: Lavender, Fennel Pollen
Chamomile Infused Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Rustic Loaf of Bread
Chamomile Infused Vinaigrette
2 heaping TBS dried chamomile (whole flowers)
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 - 3 TBS Olive oil
Juice 1/2 Lemon
Make vinegar infusion at least 24 hours ahead of time. Place dried chamomile in a clean, sterilized container. Add vinegar, mix well and cover. Infusion can sit in a dark cool place for 1 - 2 days. Strain out any solids before serving. Infusion can be stored in a sealed container for up to 4 weeks.
Lightly spray halved plums with olive oil and place onto a hot grill pan or BBQ rack. Cook until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before cutting into bite sized slices and tossing with roughly chopped fresh herbs. Make your infused vinaigrette as noted above and add 2-3 tbs of this dressing to your bruschetta mixture and toss to coat.
Serve over broken burrata or fresh mozzarella and sprinkle with a pinch of dried lavender and fennel pollen. Scoop on top of toasted bread and serve alongside a Hangar 1 Honeycomb Gimlet. Cheers!
CHAMOMILE HONEYCOMB GIMLET
Makes 1 Cocktail
¼ cup Hangar 1 Honeycomb Vodka
2 tablespoons Honey Chamomile Syrup1
½ tablespoons fresh strained lemon juice
Chamomile Syrup (makes ¾ cup)
½ cup boiling water
2 tablespoons loose chamomile flowers
3 tablespoons organic granulated cane sugar
2 tablespoons mild honey
To make the syrup, steep the chamomile flowers in the boiling water until the liquid is bright yellow, 5-10 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the sugar and honey until dissolved. Chill until needed. To make the drinks, combine the vodka, syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled partially with ice. Shake vigorously for 15-30 seconds, then strain into a coupe.
Garnish with edible marigold and chamomile, and if you’re feeling fancy try your hand at some chamomile infused sugar glass! A small chunk of honeycomb looks gorgeous as well.
This combo is an ultimate win (and no doubt crowd pleaser) that’s easy to prepare but a not-so-simple-tasting spin on your classic bruschetta. This stone fruit toast has a sweet caramelized flavor, tossed with savory fresh herbs and a floral chamomile infused vinegar making for an unexpected, complex bite that I will be enjoying until the last plum is picked and then dreaming of until next summer’s harvest.
The Hangar 1 Honeycomb Vodka tasting notes include crème brulee on the nose, with a velvety mouthfeel, and a long, toasty finish… which, when paired with the floral herbaceousness of chamomile and tart lemon, becomes a very refreshing and refined sip. This particular craft vodka expression is best enjoyed in refreshing cocktails such as this, with friends, under the daytime sun alongside your favorite farm-to-table eats - pairing well with both sweet and savory flavors…just like our dynamic Plum Bruschetta.
If this isn’t a duo I’d like to recreate every weekend until November, I don’t know what is. Time to call up the friends and plan a little get together. In case you’re looking for me, I’ll be out on the patio… maybe even wearing a very light sweater, enjoying the rest of what Autumn has to offer.
Cheers to you my friends, let’s savor this season before the whirl of holidays begin!
Hangar 1 Honeycomb Vodka is available for the first time outside of The Hangar 1 Distillery, located in Alameda, CA.
Learn more about Hangar 1 and their selection of craft vodka expressions over here and get plotting on an Autumn happy hour combo all your own!