Tag Archives: fruit

I am unreasonably nervous of this apple.

Look at it. On the face of it, it’s perfectly normal. But to me, it’s nerve-fraying to the extreme.

My work on Friday was a place of total insanity because of this apple, and others like it. For a start, the sight of 40 people all simultaneously eating apples is fairly creepy. The new girl turned around to find the Viking in some kind of wicket-keeper pose behind her, while her neighbour was trying to fit a whole apple in his mouth. Apparently he was waiting to catch the debris. Several people choked trying to eat their apple faster. People had actually chosen these apples in favour of chocolate, for god’s sake, there really must have been something dodgy in them.

More frightening and probably most incomprehensible was the Gentleman’s contribution to the situation. A sizeable amount of time had passed since one chap had tried to inhale his apple. The Gent went up to him, saying (and I quote): “Hey, you know when you choked on that apple, ha, well it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘how do you like them apples’! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Umm.

I’ve always thought there was something wrong about apples. Take original sin – so Eve claims the talking, walking snake told her to eat it. An apple-induced hallucination? And think of all the poisoned/drugged apples being chucked around the place in fairy tales. Snow White was a total mug. And just think, the whole of the Trojan War might have been averted if it hadn’t been for that pesky golden apple. Actually, I’m of the opinion that this was a nectarine, but it’s an apple-shaped fruit-based snack and could still have caused the resulting goddess hysteria.

Then again, lots of apple derivations are trouble. Take the pomegranate – seeded apple – responsible for winter (Persephone and all that). The tomato – love apple – responsible for many flushed Victorian cheeks. Potato – earth apple – responsible for worldwide obesity.

I tell you, they’re evil, they should be banned. Or people should get some imagination and not name everything vaguely round and edible a something-apple. Either or.

Plum Liqueur

yeah, yeah, plums, blah blah why can’t I finish them *breaks down in tears*

Actually, this never came to fruition thanks to the charming checkout girl in Tesco on New Street. I was obviously having a young-looking day. Or week actually – mental note made not to straighten hair again while it’s this short. Bah. Anyway it took me a good few days to remember/be arsed to go buy some brandy, because I decided that after the condiments had been dealt with, booze was the way forwards. So… the saga of the plum brandy begins. This’ll probably be about 300% alcohol by the time I remember about it and go to drink it. As it is I have some preserved lemons in my fridge that I made last year some time, and I’ve still not touched them apart from the monthly fridge-clear-out-what-the-hell-is-THAT routine. Then they get a quick shake and a ‘well I suppose they’re supposed to look like that’. I’ve got no sodding idea, I’ve never seen a preserved lemon.

Er… back onto the liqueur anyway.

Plum Liqueur
Makes probably just under a litre, but not sure yet.

1 1/2 lb plums
1 1/2 cups brandy
1 1/2 cups sugar
few strips cassia bark

You’re supposed to do this in a proper aging container, but the way I see it is this: did the peasants ever have proper aging containers in ye olde days? Did farmers out in the middle of bloody nowhere have £300 sterilisation kits? No. So bugger off, I’ll do it how I want to. Accordingly, I’m making this in an old glass olive oil bottle. The alcohol will keep it plenty clean. So I personally pitted and cut the plums into eighths, slid them into the bottle, shoved the sugar and brandy over, slotted some cassia bark in (you can use cinnamon sticks but I had the cassia to hand) and screwed the top on. Now I’m going to try to ignore it for a couple of months. I shall post again about this. Not that anyone actually reads this blog, you’re all too busy not reading or commenting on my music one, but meh. What can you do.

NB I had 1 pound 10 and 3/4 ounces of plums before pitting and including the weight of the ice cream tub they were in. I forgot to count them. But that amount perfectly fits into a 1 litre Filippo Berio olive oil bottle, which depending on the size of your plums and how much you may have to cut off them if they are imperfect and you are picky, leaves enough for a stiff drink or some brandy butter.

THE PLUM LIQUEUR AT T = -3 MONTHS:

Hot Plum Sauce

fner fner.

SORRY.

Anyway, the ongoing saga of the tray of plums… cake done and eaten. Chutney made and maturing. Er… Er… desperately searching for ideas… plum sauce! Yes, maybe some chinesey-type plum sauce.

Hot Plum Sauce
Makes about an ice-cube bag full.

450g plums, halved and pitted
2 red chillies, chopped
150g caster sugar
100ml white wine vinegar
150ml cold water
1 inch root ginger, grated
2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
a load of ground black pepper

Stick everything in a big saucepan. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain through a colander. Serve/store.

Now the original recipe says de-seed the chillies. Why on earth would you do that? Get two bog-standard salsa chillies, leave the seeds in. Go on, I dare you. Life’s for the living, and who needs tastebuds anyway.

At the first opportunity I’m going to have this on ice-cream.

Also you may be wondering why I have measured it in an ice-cube bag. It’s because it only lasts a short time in the fridge, and I really don’t eat plum sauce that fast. So, it has to be stored in small quantities. Ice cube trays + sugary stuff = mess. Ice cube bags, however, seemed to be the perfect idea. PERFECT I SAY.

This has yet to be proven. Will update if it turns out to be a terrible idea. Note that on the pic, as it’s frozen, it’s a much lighter colour than it is fresh. It’s a gorgeous… well, plummy red colour. Surprisingly.


Plum & Ginger Chutney

(Continuing on my ‘oh my god I have twelve million plums how the hell am I going to use them all’ theme.)

Since I just used up the last of my spicy nectarine chutney (I’ll post the recipe up here soon, because it’s a good’un), a similar preserve was the natural thing to make with this vast quantity of fruit. I did consider jam, but I don’t really ‘do’ jam, not having much of a sweet tooth, and a splodge of something spicy makes the dullest (and cheapest) sandwiches worthwhile – so bring on the value cheddar and ‘pâté’.

I found a recipe and tweaked it for my purposes. I did get a big bunch of mint to stick in it but a) forgot about it and b) had run out of space in the saucepan anyway. Seriously, if you make this in the quantities shown, it takes a big saucepan and splatters everywhere.

Anyway the stuff tastes good now, but in the tradition of chutney it should taste better after it’s matured for a few weeks… fortunately there’s so much that should I wish, I can make a graph charting its ‘mmm-ness’ over time.

Or maybe not.

Anyway it makes lots – 1xDouwe Egberts coffee jar and 3x500g margarine tubs. That’s probably about 6 average-sized jamjars? If you do it properly, sterilising and everything. I don’t have the proper jars so what I do is freeze it in margarine tubs (or more specifically, in plastic bags in margarine tubs, so I can make sure it’s sealed a bit better). Seemed to work fine with the last lot of chutney – and that moved house with me, freezer to freezer.

Plum & Ginger Chutney
Makes lots.

900g/2lb plums (that’s about 16 plums, number fans), pitted and diced (I cut them into 8ths)
2 medium onions, chopped
150g dried apricots, chopped
350g raisins
600ml/1 pint malt vinegar
500g/1lb sugar
a 3″ piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp cayenne pepper (I like my cayenne. Be warned.)
45g/1 3/4 oz salt

Put plums, onions, dried fruit and vinegar in a LARGE saucepan and boil together until soft, about 30 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and boil again until thickened, about 40 minutes. Ladle into chosen receptacles.

I did the jam test with this to see when it was thick enough… take a small spoonful of the chutney and drop onto a cold (clean) surface. Wait til it’s cooled, then poke it, mush it around with your finger and work out if it’s chutney consistency, bearing in mind it will get thicker on storage. This step prevents soggy bread.

Still more than half of the plums left to go. Argh.

Upside-Down Plum Cake

Went for a bit of a wander round the markets the other day (my new favourite place) and was suckered in by a charming gentleman hollering “TRAY OF PLUMS FOR A PAAAHNND”. I looked at the tray, thought ‘that’s not too bad a deal’, and purchased. Somehow, I seem to have ended up with about 6 times as many as I thought I would, which while being a good deal (about 3p per plum) means I’m going to be eating plum-based goodies for months. Ah well.

On to the first delight.

Upside-Down Plum Cake
Serves 8, maybe 12 if you’re a bit less generous with the slices.

Plum goo:
2 tbsp butter
6 plums, pitted and cut into 6 wedges
1/2 cup caster sugar

Melt the butter, add the sugar and plums and cook gently until the plums look soft and the sugar is totally dissolved. Remove the plums and set to one side; boil the syrup until a bit thicker and leave to cool. Arrange the plums in the bottom of a greased & floured cake tin (I actually did it in a casserole dish as more of a pudding-type dessert, because my cake tin is loose-bottomed and I didn’t want the syrup to drip everywhere), pour over the syrup, and leave to cool.

Cake:
1/2 cup (100g) butter
3/4 cup (160g) caster sugar (plus 2 tbsp)
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp lemon extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/4 cup milk

Cream the butter and the 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then beat in the lemon extract. Sift the dry ingredients and beat into the buttery mixture alternately with the milk. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, add the 2 tbsp sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Fold a third into the batter until just mixed, then mix in the rest (this avoids losing all the air you’ve spent all that effort putting in. Somehow.)

Spread this batter over the plums in the prepared tin. Whack in a pre-heated 180C oven for 50-55 minutes until risen and pretty. Leave until cold then turn out onto a plate.

Blackberry Almond Cake

Aaahhh, cake. I’d been existing (mid-morning-snack-wise) on the remainders of my sticky swedish chocolate number, and then on the crappy xmas-cake-bar-thing I got in that hamper from work, but the end drew near last week. “Oh no!” I thought, “I need to finish my other blog, there’s loads of stuff still to do on that, I can’t stop now!”. Within ten minutes I was on my way to the shops. Yay displacement activities.

Anyway, so I did a little search because I remembered seeing an interesting coffee cake a few days. Sure enough, I found it, an apricot and almond coffee cake. I noted down the ingredients and off I went. It was a few minutes before I noticed the rather glaring omission in the recipe. No coffee. What? I checked the title, sure enough, “apricot almond coffee cake”, but no matter how many times I looked, no coffee was forthcoming in the ingredients or even the method. Then again, the recipe is from one of the Yahoo! groups I’m on, and I think it came from a woman, bless her, who has absolutely no clue what she has posted before. She’s posted the same recipe three times in a week before, and this ain’t because she’s cooking it. She’s special. So assuming the recipe did come from her, I’m not surprised it’s missing vital ingredients.

Blackberry Almond Cake
8-12 servings

150g butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
142ml pot soured cream
few tbsp blackcurrant preserve (preferably with whole berries in, but jam’d be ok I guess)

Cream the butter and sugar until nice and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in almond extract. Sift dry ingredients; add to the creamed mixture alternately with soured cream. Beat until just blended. Spread half the mixture in a greased & floured 8″ cake tin (I used a loose-bottomed one, but that’s largely because I only have a loose-bottomed tin. Splodge over the blackcurrant preserve, adding more if you want more in there, can’t see that it’d do any harm. Spread over the rest of the mix. Bake at 180C for 45 minutes to an hour until a skewer comes out clean, you know the drill.


So the actual recipe is… well… almost entirely different. Definitely more of an inspirational recipe than a copy slavishly one. So, the amendments… in my wanders round the supermarché, I discovered there were no flaked almonds. Bugger. And then swore at the price of the jam – £1.35 for a jar! For one cake! I resigned myself to the misery, but then spotted jars of cranberry sauce for 29p. Aha! Success. Sold. Sadly once I returned home, I then couldn’t open the jar, so after about half an hour of straining at the damn thing and discovering that jam jars are stronger than my joints, I was forced to give up. Shooting pains down my thumb and wrist for the next couple of days. Ouch. Fortunately I had a jar of blackcurrant preserve in the fridge (yay xmas hamper again). And I think it came out pretty well.

So, this is from Recipes Galore, the Yahoo Group:

Almond Apricot Coffee Cake
The nutty aroma and delicate fruit flavour make
this cake so special, it will impress anyone.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

3/4 cup slivered almonds, divided

1 jar (10 to 12 ounces) apricot preserves, divided

DIRECTIONS
In a mixing bowl, cream butter. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in almond extract. Combine dry ingredients; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Beat on low just until blended.
Spread half of the batter in a greased and floured 12-cup fluted tube pan. Sprinkle with half of the almonds. Spread half of the preserves to within 1/2 in of the edges. Cover with remaining batter. Spoon remaining preserves over batter to within 1/2 in of edges. Sprinkle with remaining almonds.
Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Carefully invert onto a serving platter. Yield: 12-16 servings.