AUTUMN FRUITY PLUM CRUMBLE

 

 

Autumn winds are making the delicious plums fall from my tree and I’m picking them up as fast as possible as they rain down on my head. Apart from being delicious, I love the idea of ‘free’ food and, even better, free food from my own garden. For me, Victoria plums have the best flavour and are perfect for this Fruity Plum Crumble

Plum crumble has to be the ultimate comfort food and certainly a dish to illicit some guaranteed ‘ooohs and aaahs’ when it is brought to the table. Perhaps this is because the fruit season is short and serving this once or twice a year pudding,  signals the changing of the year. Actually, mine isn’t a once a year treat as my freezer is now full of all the plums I couldn’t use -even after making spicy plum chutney & gifting some to friends etc there are lots left! I have either put the prepared plums (stone and halved) straight into freezer bags or cooked and pureed into boxes. My plan is to use the puree to make into a Christmas ice cream possibly with a little brandy or port and crumbled amaretto biscuits.

If you have a tree or know someone who has one, you will need to get a wriggle on and get them picked. Even better you could consider planting your own tree to guarantee your supply for years to come. They are trouble free and have pretty blossom in the spring.

Try this lovely pud

PLUM CRUMBLE

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RICH CHOCOLATE POTS

Chocolate pots

I used to think that these little pots of chocolate were the height of sophistication. To be fair I was only about 5 years old and they were a ‘left over’ treat from my parent’s dinner parties.  My mum made these a lot and this is her recipe. They are still a treat, dark, very chocolaty, rich  and easy to make. Just take care to melt the chocolate slowly and to combine the ingredients gently.  With such a simple recipe it is easy to make more and they can be made ahead of time and frozen-all my boxes are ticked.

If you can the flavour is even better if you make them the day before so a little restraint is needed-(you can always like out the bowl to keep you going!)

NB please note that the recipe contains uncooked eggs.

RICH CHOCOLATE POTS

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SUMMER PUDDING

My little plot is bursting at the seams and we have been enjoying freshly dug ‘Pink Fir Apple ‘ potatoes, courgettes, tiny peas, gorgeously beautiful Swiss chard, spinach, tiny broad beans and more. My favourite herbs; dill, coriander and mint are all set for plot domination and ready to be picked by the handful. Fresh dill for salmon, cheesey dips and for a fresh ‘pickle’ with cucumber; fresh coriander to liven up a chicken and mango curry and fresh mint for some delicious chickpea falafels -(take a look at my recipe for this) and to add to elderflower fizz or gin and tonic at the end of the day. How lovely to see what fruit and vegetables are ready and then think of ways to use them rather than starting with a recipe and going to buy the ingredients. It is a much more creative process dictated by the seasons and the prepared dishes are all the better for it. I know I’m lucky to have a vegetable garden but even some spicy salad leaves grown in a pot taste so much better than any bought ones and they are much cheaper!

Today I spied these wonderful, glistening redcurrants and I knew it was time to make…..Summer Pudding. Aptly named as it is made with lots of summer fruits that are at their best now.

Beautiful berries from my garden
Beautiful berries from my garden

This pudding is the quintessential taste of summer and all the more special for being made just once a year. Serve it in small slices, as the flavour is quite strong and lots of double cream. Don’t be tempted to go for a healthier option such as Crème Fraiche-this pudding needs cream and after all it is a once a year treat!

My gorgeous summer pudding

You can make one large pudding with this recipe or approx. 6 small ones. The small ones look lovely but are a bit of a fiddle to make.

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RHUBARB AND ALMOND TART

 

Pretty pink forced Yorkshire rhubarb
Pretty pink forced Yorkshire rhubarb

Now who can resist this beautifully pink delicate rhubarb with its chartreuse frilly hat…not me..I couldn’t walk past my local green grocers without buying this precious delight. It has a very short season, blink and you have missed it. It also comes from Yorkshire so what more could a Yorkshire girl want. It is mysteriously grown in the dark and cut by candlelight-the lack of light ‘forcing’ it to produce the slim, pink wands. A special ingredient needs delicate handling and a special recipe. So here is my rhubarb and almond tart just for you. It was inspired by a similar tart I had at a very special hotel the AltnaHarrie Inn (now closed) near Ullapool in Wester Ross, Scotland. When you arrived on the quay side you had to telephone (from the red telephone box of course-younger readers -that is how we used to make phone calls) and they would send a small boat to pick you up. Very romantic. I made some scribbles on a napkin and from these wrote this recipe 20 years later.

RHUBARB & ALMOND TART

Rhubarb and almond tart
Rhubarb and almond tart

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3 HOMEMADE DAIRY ICE CREAMS

 

I’m writing this in the nearest thing that we get to a heatwave here in West Cumbria…better make the most of it then. Heatwaves (or even just a few tiny rays) in summertime  and my thoughts turn to homemade, dairy ice cream. Not just the synthetic, overly sweet commercial ice cream but proper, homemade, dairy ice cream, made with double cream. You can’t make proper ice cream without cream it’s as simple as that….sorry to the healthy eating brigade but I will concede that you shouldn’t eat too much in any one sitting. If it doesn’t say ‘dairy’ on the box it is not ‘dairy ice cream…just a synthetic concoction of skimmed milk products and lots of  other stuff.

I am basically lazy and it is too much effort to get out that ice-cream maker that has been languishing in a kitchen cupboard for…..probably years and too I’m too impatient to leave the bowl to freeze first anyway!  If you want to make the effort and you have an ice cream maker lying around  it does give a creamy result but I think this method makes pretty creamy ice cream too.

Everything goes in together and then pour it into a plastic box and pop into the freezer. Once it starts to freeze around the edges you take it out and beat vigourously, this help to break down the ice crystals you can repeat this again if you are feeling energetic but it’s not really necessaryl.  As a summer bonus for you I have made three different ice creams; Fresh RaspberrySwirl,Velvety Madagascan vanilla ice cream (cleverly sugar free) and a family favourite Crunchy Malteser ice cream.

Have a go at these:

 

FRESH RASPBERRY SWIRL, VELVETY MADAGASCAN VANILLA ICE CREAM AND MALTESAR HOMEMADE ICE CREAM

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