Tag Archives: plum

Never give up.

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Sometimes, it takes a little extra effort to get a dish right. We’re gonna eventually get to plum chutney here. Stick with me.

This year at Christmas I wrote on the holiday menu, “I’ve been wanting to make a Bûche de Noël for years. Simple in concept, enchanting in execution, this sponge cake, rolled with buttercream and frosted with ganache, is shaped to look like a log, decorated with meringue mushrooms. That said, I have never made one before. It will be part of the grand adventure of this year’s Christmas dinner. Or, it will fail miserably and I’ll put out a plate of Mom’s cookies. Either way you win.”

The buttercream took me two tries. The cake took three. After the second try my Mom suggested that a plate of cookies would be “just as special,” but I was determined.

What does this have to do with plum chutney? In the test kitchen this week we tried four different versions. There was broad disagreement on a winner, ultimately, because there wasn’t one. I woke up Friday morning determined to get it right. My Saturday morning demos at Eastern Market are a passion and while I don’t want to let “perfect” be the enemy of “good,” just good is never good enough.

After reading another fifteen chutney recipes, a new plan emerged. Ginger and cardamom were replaced by cinnamon and star anise. A different vinegar, Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry, offered more depth, spice and acidity than its predecessors. More sugar brought out the fruit that had been dull in previous attempts.

The extra effort paid off at dinnertime. The chutney paired wonderfully with salt-and-fennel crusted, roast pork tenderloin. Or just spread it with cream cheese on a bagel.

Plum Chutney

My test batch at home included jalapeño but I didn’t see any at the market this week. It tasted great both ways!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chopped plums, about 6
  • 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup diced red onion, about 1 medium
  • 1/2 jalapeño minced
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry Vinegar*

*One of my favorites from Sapore, well worth the online order. Can’t wait for it to ship? Try 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 Sherry vinegar for both high acidity and depth.

Directions:

  • Mix together ingredients in a 3-quart saucepan and cook 30 minutes, until thick and bubbly. The plums will release a lot of liquid. Start heat at medium high and lower as chutney reduces to avoid burning.
  • Remove cinnamon and star anise pods.
  • Cool to room temperature and chill. The chutney will last up to a week in the refrigerator, or can be canned or frozen.
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A dish best served cold.

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Cold soups always seem like a special indulgence. It’s like getting to eat dessert before dinner. As a kid, when I first discovered  these blends of fruit and yogurt at Judie’s restaurant, I loved the sugary sweet flavors of blueberry and strawberry in a barely thinned soup (served alongside my popover with apple butter). Cooking in my twenties, I discovered the purées in Silver Palate and Moosewood cookbooks that put fresh fruit center stage.

When I went to develop this recipe for fresh plum soup I wanted something that walked that edge of savory. Let’s leave dessert for the end of the meal. Fresh stewed plums and ginger delivered strong but tart fruit flavors. Red wine gave depth, sweet honey brought out the plums and buttermilk added richness. When our tasting team asked if this was going to be called “plum and honey soup,” we dialed back the distinct floral flavors of the honey with a light, fruit vinegar.

Serve chilled as the perfect start to a light summer meal or ahead of rich, smoky, grilled meats.

Ruby Plum Soup

Ingredients:

  • 6 plums, pitted and diced
  • 1 tbs finely minced ginger
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Ruby Red Grapefruit Vinegar*

*Brand new at Sapore in DC. Substitute a fruit infused white wine vinegar or a splash of champagne vinegar, which is more acidic.

Directions:

  • Place plums in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for five minutes.
  • Add wine. Cover and cook for five minutes more.
  • Remove from stove and let cool to room temperature.
  • Pass half the cooked plums through a food mill or processor. Add to a bowl with the remaining stewed plums and stir together.
  • Add honey and buttermilk.
  • Season to taste with vinegar. add half of it at first and add more as needed.
  • Chill and serve.