Wednesday, October 13, 2010
It's plum season! Plum season, plum season, how I love you plum season. (You should probably be reading that with a rhythm, or even a little melody. I find children's songs are good to commandeer when you want to sing a little ditty about plums.) Anyway, for the last two years I've been making German plum cakes every Autumn. And how I love my German plum cakes, this one especially, which is an heirloom recipe passed down through my family from my great-grandmother who immigrated to the US from Germany way back when. If you haven't tried it yet, it's been getting great reviews, at least from readers who report back. Gotta love that.
But this post isn't about German plum cake at all. It's not about German anything. It's about a compote I found in a little soft-cover from the series Best-Kept Secrets of the Women's Institute. The Women's Institute, at least according to their website, was founded in 1915 with the aim of invigorating rural communities and encouraging women in their endeavours to produce food during World War One. They're now the largest women's organization in the UK. So, that's pretty cool. If you've been reading around here for any length of time, you might have picked up on the fact that I'm pretty pro-women in general. I mean, we are pretty great, after all. And I think it's important that we all support each other. Don't worry, I'm not going to get any more soap boxy than that. Back to the compote.
It comes from the book Puddings & Desserts, which, as I said, is part of the Best-Kept Secrets series. And y'all? (I'm totally not even Southern, but I hate the practice of saying 'you guys' no matter the audience.) This stuff is good. It is so good. It's good enough to eat with a spoon, which you'll probably end up doing if you pour it over ice cream or yogurt. But I mean, it's good enough to eat by itself with a spoon. And it takes advantage of the beautiful plums now in season, and it doesn't take that long, and it's not much effort at all. Originally it was meant for that very English dessert, the fool. But I don't really tend to have custard around, so I just poured it on Greek yogurt. Easy.
Plum & Cardamom Compote for Yogurt or Ice Cream
Adopted from Sîan Cook's Best-Kept Secrets of the Women's Institute: Puddings & Desserts
1 3/4 lbs ripe purple plums, stone removed
4 oz caster sugar (caster sugar is superfine sugar. If you don't have it on hand, just whizz regular white sugar in a food processor for a few seconds, which will help it to dissolve quickly and completely)
3 cardamom pods (Indian grocery stores are a good place to look for whole cardamom pods)
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Plenty of Greek yogurt or ice cream
With a mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom pods until you can remove the seeds from the shell. Discard the shells and continue to crush the seeds until they're pretty well crushed.
Put the plums, cardamom seeds, orange juice and sugar into a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook it gently for at least 30 minutes. The plums should be cooked and very soft.
Strain the plums into a bowl and set aside. Allow the fruit to cool as you return the juices to the heat and bring them up to a boil. Reduce the liquid for about 3-4 minutes, until you have about 3 tablespoons left.
Put the plums and the reduced liquid into a blender, and blend until very well puréed. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve over ice cream or yogurt.