Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A Plum Job

 The humble Plum. As far as I am concerned it is one of the most overrated fruits we have available. But for my Father it is the only fruit worth eating. Dad’s collection of plum trees are one of his many prized possessions. A fondness that happily takes a back seat for his love of White-baiting. (More on these wonderous little fishys in future posts). Although unless Rena destroys all signs of marine life- I doubt anything will come close. He waits every year for the hot months of summer to come around, trying and testing them as the sour bitter flavour becomes sweeter by the day.

A ball of goodness

 Straight off the tree our homegrown plums are rather tart. We have two varieties, the larger ones are lighter on the inside and slightly sweeter so best for eating. While the small dark beauties are best used for cooking. Having such an abundance of plums at hand forces you to be rather creative in the kitchen. A task I welcome with open arms. I attmepted to delve out Nana’s ripped, tea-stained recipe for ‘Homemade Plum Sauce’. Plenty of vinegar, sugar, chilli, spices and of course plums boiling away in a large pot. Immediately it fills the house with a potent plum perfume. Two hours and a number of blender loads later we filled an array of jars, ready for gifts or to be stored away for a rainy day.

No colours or preservatives here
An attempt to re-create a stewed plum that could compete with the classic Watties tinned ‘Black Doris Plum’ variety, was a tough ask. I had better do something pretty special. Using flavour notes of star anise and vanilla bean paste, the water and sugar all mingled beautifully with the rich red plums. As the aromatic scents simmered in the pot. I awaited in anticipation. Once softened, they were drained, liquid preserved, left to cool and taste-tested. Verdict: Succulent juicy balls of delight. Plated up with your vanilla ice cream and it finds itself a new best friend.
In terms of flavour depth they beat the tinned variety by a long shot, but for the sake of nostaligia, it’s hard to go past the Black Doris herself.

Look closely and spot the tiny vanilla beans 
The final creation involved a recipe from a sought after Dunedin café and deli. Famous for it’s extensive list of Hot Chocolate varieties, The Everyday Gourmet is a food-lovers paradise. Fortunately I have friends in high places and was able to get my hands on a recipe. What would be the perfect addition for my numerous plums? Answer: The modest Friand. A beautiful mixture of ground almonds, icing sugar, butter, egg whites and flour. Crafted with care and friendship these elite beauties looked very impressive. A dense, moist flavour-some treat best served with good friends, a touch of summer sun and a dollop of natural yoghurt.

A match made in heaven

 Pretty dam plum if you ask me.

Note: Things learn’t during this post

1. The definition of ‘plum’ when used as an adjective refers to ‘a highly desirable accomplishment’ [c/o MBP dictionary].

2. Mace -one of the spice ingredients in the plum sauce; is essentially the outer-shell of a Nutmeg, so nutmeg is the ideal alternative [c/o Wikipedia].

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