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Archive for February 3rd, 2010

A chance conversation with my mother about stewed plums reminded me how long it was since I had cooked some, so led me to buy some at our local market early in the New Year.  We love fresh plums but the winter varieties are usually hard and tasteless.  I never buy them so had not thought about cooking them either.  

Around the same time I was watching a back episode from the TV series Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers recorded in Autumn 2009 with recipes contrasting warm and cold together.  One of the recipes was Hot Spiced Fruit with Ice Cream and so, as I have said before, off I went to buy some plums!  In my version below, Mulled Stewed Plums, I added lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice, which are always a lovely contrast to the sweetness of plums and some slices of fresh root ginger.  Nigel Slater recommended this recipe for using with redcurrants, blackcurrants or raspberries in summer and later in the year autumnal fruit such as plums and damsons.  He also added a bay leaf, as shown by his mother, who added it to her rice puddings (he said).  I have retained this.  I am sure his ice cream accompaniment is lovely, but I served my Mulled Plums with yoghurt and a drizzle of honey.  It would be equally good with custard, cream, soured cream or crème fraîche.

Alternatives are Pears Poached with Lemon, Honey & Ginger, Mulled Stewed Pears with Orange & Ginger, Mulled Apricots & Pears with Ginger & Almond and Plums, Pears & Nectarines: information about these can be found below.  All recipes are ideal as warming winter desserts and are quick and easy, so perfect for midweek.  These fruit mixtures would also be good with a Crumble topping or under a Pastry crust.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Mulled Stewed Plums
(Serves 4)

20-24 plums, allow 5 or 6 per person depending on size (remove stalks)
2-3 cloves
1 piece cinnamon stick broken into pieces
1 bay leaf
1oz granulated sugar
1oz dark or light muscovado sugar
grated zest and juice of half lemon
half inch piece of ginger, cut into slices

1.   Put a small cross on each end of the plums if they are hard to allow the flavours to permeate and soften the fruit.  This is less important if the fruit is soft as it could disintegrate.  Place the plums in a pan with the other ingredients and cover with about ½pint water.

2.  Cook gently for 15-20minutes, or until the plums are soft but not disintegrating.  (The time will depend on the type and ripeness of the plums you are using.)  If more liquid is needed add a little more boiling water, but not too much as it helps if the juices are reduced so that the plums are served with a spoonful or two of sweet spicy juice.

3.  Serve with yoghurt, soured cream or crème fraîche and a drizzle of honey, or alternatively with custard.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pears Compote with Lemon, Honey & Ginger
(Serves 4)
For breakfast compote you may wish to omit the ginger and cut the pears much smaller

4 large Conference Pears,
             or more (about 1-2 per person)
1 lemon
1-2 tbsp runny honey
Small piece of root ginger, grated
 
1.  Peel pears and cut lengthwise into 8-12 long pieces depending on size of pear (or smaller chunks for a fruit compote).  Place in a small saucepan.  
 
2.  Cut lemon into quarters.  Immediately squeeze juice over pears pieces before they go brown.  Add empty lemon shells to pan and stew with pear to add flavour. 
 
3.  Drizzle honey over fruit. Sprinkle over ginger if using.  
 
4.  Poach over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until pears are soft.

Mulled Stewed Pears with Orange & Ginger
(Serves 4)

4 large pears, conference are good if available
1 piece cinnamon stick broken into pieces
1 bay leaf
1oz soft light brown or demerara sugar
grated zest and juice of an orange
half inch piece of ginger, cut into slices

1.  Preheat oven to 160oC/325oF/Gas 3 for 30-40minutes. (Can also be cooked gently on the hob.)

2.  Peel and core pears, immersing the pieces of pear in water with a pinch of salt to prevent them from browning until they are ready for use. 

3.  Place the prepared pears in an ovenproof dish with the orange zest and juice, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and slices of ginger.  (For hob place all the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan.)  Sprinkle over the sugar.

4.  Bake until the pear is soft but still retains its shape, about 20 minutes. (If cooking on the hob cook on a very gentle heat.)

5. Serve with yoghurt, soured cream or crème fraîche.

Mulled Apricots & Pears with Ginger & Almond
(Serves 4)

2lbs/1kg ripe apricots
2/3 large pears, conference are good if available
half inch piece of ginger, cut into slices
1 lemon, zest & juice
1 bay leaf
1oz soft light brown or demerara sugar
½tsp almond essence
a few toasted split almonds to sprinkle over when serving

1.  Preheat oven to 160oC/325oF/Gas 3 for 30-40minutes. (Can also be cooked gently on the hob.)

2.  Peel and core pears, immersing the pieces of pear in water with a pinch of salt to prevent them from browning until they are ready for use.

3.  Quarter apricots and remove stones.   

4.  Place the prepared apricots and pears in an ovenproof dish with the lemon zest and juice, bay leaf and slices of ginger.  Add the almond essence.  (For hob place all the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan.)  Sprinkle over the sugar.

4.  Bake until the fruits are soft but still retain their shape, about 20 minutes. (If cooking on the hob cook on a very gentle heat.)

5. Serve with cream and sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top just before serving.  Alternatively serve with custard, yoghurt, soured cream or crème fraîche.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Mulled Stewed Plums, Pears & Nectarines
Allow one small pear, two plums and one nectarine per person: plus a little extra for second helpings.

Add halved or quartered fresh figs as well or in place of one of the other fruits, if you wish

Cooking method and other ingredients as for mulled stewed plums (above).

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