Tag Archives: plums

my Magimix

Magimix

I’ve had my Magimix for years – I bought it, and a whole batch of blades, many years ago, when I was much better off than I am now 🙂 It’s always sat there on the worktop, but I don’t actually use it all that much – veg for soup, whipping up the odd cake when I can’t be bothered to get the mixer out, etc.

I was having a “cook a nice dinner” day yesterday, something I love doing on an autumn/winter Sunday afternoon. I nipped (or popped) up to Iceland for one of their chateaubriands, but horror – they’d run out! So I bought a couple of duck breasts, a bag of spuds, and two cartons of cream. Pete had picked up a punnet of red plums for £0.45 in Aldi earlier in the week, so that needed factoring in too.

I started with grating the last of the Gruyére. Readers, I hate grating cheese – I usually get nail, or finger, or both in the grated stuff, so Pete always does it, but he was out. So I put the small bowl on the Magimix, and the grating blade, and it worked a treat!

Then came red cabbage (already in the fridge) – chopped it in plunger-size wedges and sliced it with a slicing blade. Then, I chopped an apple. And then a red onion. And then some garlic. I was on a roll by this point, as you might be able to tell. This all went in my ancient and venerable oval black Le Creuset casserole, with salt, pepper, a knob of butter, a good dollop of red wine vinegar, plus nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon.

I washed up the bowls, then put the thin slicing blade on, and sliced up a load of spuds very thinly for what might be pommes dauphinoise (it’s what we call them, anyway); again, Pete would normally do this on our mandolin, which absolutely terrifies me, so I thought I’d try the Magimix. It was great, sliced them up very thinly. I layered half in a heatproof dish, sprinkled half the gruyere, salt, pepper and garlic power, and quite a lot of cream, then repeated the two laters. Stuck it in the oven for about 1hr 20m, with a foil hat for the first 40 minutes. Gorgeous.

Next up: plums. We decided on a plum upsidedown cake. Despite being cheap, the 45p plums were still quite hard, so I cut them in half, and cooked them off for ten minutes, cut side down, in a little water with five spice powder. I always do an upsidedown cake in my tarte tatin dish, which is like this:
I think I bought it from Lakeland, but they don’t seem to do it any more – Amazon do, though. I put some butter and some brown sugar in it, and melted it on the hob (sorry, not very good at measuring things like that), then arranged the plums, cut side down again, on top of the melted mix.

I made my standard cake mix with three eggs:

Weigh the eggs in their shell, then take the same weight of self-raising flour, butter and caster sugar. Beat the lot together. You can add gin to this, vanilla essence, chocolate drops, sultanas, pretty much anything. Bake for about 45 minutes at 180C.

Pour the cake mix onto the plums, smooth off, bake as above. Delicious. Oh, and of course, I mixed the batter in the Magimix!

It had a hard day, but it saved me hours, and that’s well worth it when you have arthritic paws like me.

winter is coming

plums

Well, rather, autumn is here, and we’re back to more suitable cooking for the season.

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this weekend; I made bread, pizza dough, and peanut butter and choc chip cookies on Saturday (recipes to come, I promise, but I’m still tweaking a bit), and on Sunday I did lamb and veg soup (or at least the components thereof), plum, apple and five spice crumble.

The soup involved roasting off £1.20’s worth of lamb bones from Morrisons, then boiling them down for stock, then picking the meat off them. There was actually enough meat for two big pots of soup, so some has gone in the freezer. Then I very finely chopped ¼ swede, 1 leek, 2 carrots and 1 courgette (takes bloody ages, but I never feel the food processor does it as well), and put them in the medium slow cooker with a glug of olive oil, and about ½” of water. Then this morning I married up stock, lamb and veg, together with 1 litre of veg soup left over from *last* week. That will do us for lunches for this week, with some crispbread or whatever.

The market stall in Hull was selling 2lbs of plums for a quid – rude not to, really. So I bought them, a *huuuuge* green cabbage, a cauliflower, and two Bramleys, for £3. Most of the plums went into a crumble – I say “most”, because I couldn’t fit them all into the pan. How I wish I had room for another freezer.

I halved them, and laid them flat in a heavy based frying pan, sprinkled with five space, and added about 1″ of water. Simmered until they were soft, then decanted them into a dish, and cooked the syrup right down. Added a peeled and chopped Bramley, topped with a oaty crumble mix and … nectar.

Pete constructed a pizza on Saturday – I use 500g of flour for dough, and it makes three pizzas for us, and freezes well. He used some smoked salami that we discovered in Aldi (along with various other stuff), and very nice it was too.

Sunday we dined on venison steak and braised red cabbage (both out of the freezer), and potatoes roasted with olive oil and rosemary. And the aforementioned crumble. It’s amazing how little meat we want these days – a 300g venison steak was plenty between us, and we used to eat 400g steaks each in the day.

This week, we will be mostly eating cabbage, I suspect. And soup. 🙂

a spicy plum crumble

A bit like bananas are in this house, are plums. In that I buy them, but don’t eat them. So there were eight going a bit scrotal in a bowl, and a couple of (very) wizened Bramleys in the veg drawer in the fridge. It was a cold day, Rainageddon was forecast (though didn’t arrived, because the Met Office appears to be unfit for purpose), and I planned a day in the kitchen. This crumble was part of it.

We don’t like sugar in our fruit, and we’re not very precious about peel either. So I just halved the plums and took the stones out, and chopped up the Bramleys, skin still on (but I did take the core out :). These went in a bowl, and we mulled what to add; in the end, we decided on cinnamon, and I sprinkled  maybe a couple of level teaspoons’ worth over the fruit.

Crumble mix is easy:

3 parts flour (white or brown, whatever you fancy)
2 parts marg or butter
1 part sugar

Bung it all in a food processor and whizz. I generally add something else at this stage – hazelnuts, chocolate drops (works very well with pears), or generally porage oats, which give a lovely nutty flavour.  About 3 tablespoons’ worth, probably. Porage yesterday, and a heaped teaspoon of ground ginger.

Pour over the fruit, bake at 180C for 45 minutes. Gorgeous.

a full oven, and a plum crumble

a full oven

Further to the last post on energy saving cooking, here is the oven full of cauli cheese, roast potatoes, and plum and apple crumble.

I poached the plums in water with a teaspoon of five spice for about 8 minutes, then put them in an oven proof dish, bubbled the liquor down a bit, then added two cooking apples (peeled, cored and chunked) and cooked them off until they softened a bit. Into the dish they went, and a crumble topping went, er, on top –  6 oz brown flour, 2 oz porridge oats, 3 oz marg, 3 oz sugar. 40 minutes or so at 180. Lovely.

New Year's Eve dinner 2010

New Year's Eve venison

When I ordered the goose from Fields, I added a venison loin to the order for New Year’s Eve; traditionally, I cook dinner for three close friends on 31/12, and have done so for many years. The fact that we’ve moved 220 miles away seems to make no difference 🙂

The butcher phoned a couple of weeks before Christmas to say their supplier had delivered no venison loins (perhaps they have a very odd breed of deer up here :), and would a haunch be OK. As I’d never cooked either, it seemed a plan, so he set aside a 2Kg one for me. I asked how much it would cost, and felt a bit faint when he told me but, you know, festive season and all that.

By Friday morning, we realised we had *8* people for dinner, so during the morning Pete and I between us cooked up a huge batch of dauphinoise potatoes with leeks to accompany the venison and sugar snap peas. I had a bag of cranberries in the fridge, and a punnet of plums, so I did a plum streusel (using this recipe, but without the pine nuts) and a cranberry and chocolate roulade. The former went very well; the latter …

My oven is ancient and not very good. I baked the roulade for the recommended time, and it clearly wasn’t cooked, so I gave it another five minutes. When I came to get it out of the tin, it was a bit sticky, but I slathered it with the cream and cranberries and then – disaster. It wouldn’t roll up, and was really more like a chocolate mooooose than a sponge. Too late to do anything about it, so we manoeuvred it on to as plate (getting covered in chocolate to boot), dusted it with icing sugar to hide the damage, and hoped for the best. And despite its rather collapsed appearance, it was *gorgeous*, and every scrap was consumed.

On to the venison. I was a bit worried, because it cost £38! (yes, really), and I didn’t want to wreck it. In the end, I went for Hugh Fearnley-Eatsitall’s method – seasoned it, put some fresh thyme and bay leaves on it and wrapped it in 12 thin rashers of bacon. 30 minutes at gas 7, then 50 at gas 4 (it weighed 2.156kgs, boned), and it was cooked *to perfection*, lovely and pink. It went down very well.

Eight people round our dining table was a bit of a squeeze, and there was a rather varied assortment of chairs, but we managed, and a fine night was had by all. I think between us Pete and I did eight lots of washing up between last night’s dinner and this morning’s cooked breakfast for four – roll on the kitchen makeover in Feb, and a DISHWASHER.

Sadly there is both venison and plum cake left, so Pete and I will have to eat it tonight. Such hardship.

And I wish you all a very happy new year!

plum and apple porridgy crumble

We had some plums going scrotal in the fruit bowl, so I cut them in to quarters and destoned them, and put them in an ovenproof dish. They didn’t look enough, somehow, so I got a Bramley out of the fridge and peeled and chopped it, and into the dish it went.

Added a drizzle of honey (I much prefer fruit cooked with honey to sugar), a couple of star anise, a decent grating of fresh ginger, and about 1/2″ of water, and zapped it in the microwave for 4 minutes to kick start the cooking.

Made a crumble topping of 6oz plain flour, 2oz porridge oats, 3oz demerara sugar and 3.5oz of margarine, blitzed to crumbs in the Magimix. Patted it down on top oF the fruit, and baked at gas 4 for 45 minutes.

Needless to say, I got all the bits of star anise in my portion, but it was worth it. Trust me.

a plum and apple pudding

plum and apple puddingusing up: four plums and a wrinkly cooking apple

Peel and core the apple, and cut into chunks.  Set in an ovenproof dish.

Cut the plums in half, and remove the stones.  Set cut side down in a shallow pan, and add about 1/2″ of water, two star anise, and half a cinnamon stick, and some honey (how big a spoon is up to you – we don’t like things sweet, so it was probably a teaspoon or so for us). Poach for about 5 minutes.

Remove the plums and pile them on top of the apple.  Turn up the heat under the cooking liquor and boil ferociously until it reduces to a syrup, then remove the star anise and cinnamon and decant the liquid onto the fruit.

Bung 4oz each of ground almonds, butter and caster sugar, together with two eggs, into the food processor and blitz until combined. Spoon on to the fruit mix, and bake for 50 minutes to an hour at gas 4.  We didn’t have any cream, so we had to slum it with vanilla ice cream.  It still worked 🙂