Stone love

Sum­mer might be over, but the new sea­son’s plums, in all their glo­ri­ous au­tum­nal hues, will keep meal­times vi­brant. Try this sea­sonal vari­a­tion on a sum­mer salad, and this gin-spiked sor­bet S

The Guardian - Cook - - The Modern Cook - Anna Jones Anna Jones is a chef, writer and au­thor of A Mod­ern Way to Eat and A Mod­ern Way to Cook (Fourth Es­tate); an­; @we_are_­food Makes 1 litre

um­mer wanes and au­tumn shows its face. This year, I am less ready for the change of sea­son than ever be­fore, but the show of plums has soft­ened the blow a lit­tle. Buff yel­low and inky pur­ple vic­to­rias; tight, black-pur­ple, dusty damsons; and fluffily ver­dant green­gages – plums are com­ing out in all their va­ri­eties and hues.

As I piled damsons into a bag this week, the green­gro­cer asked if I was mak­ing gin. “Very pop­u­lar this year,” ap­par­ently. Some will un­doubt­edly be made in our house: the damsons will spend a few hours in the freezer to split their skins, then they will half-fill kil­ner jars, with a few ta­ble­spoons of sugar spooned on top, then the jars will be topped up with gin and left un­til near to Christ­mas to steep.

But, this week, I had the urge to use plums in some­thing savoury, a salad – as you might use peaches or wa­ter­melon in sun­nier months – the sweet acid­ity a tan­ta­lis­ing foil to some pep­pery leaves and the but­tery crunch of peanuts. And then pud­ding, too: this easy sor­bet, ex­tend­ing them beyond their short, early-au­tumn win­dow. Spiked with last year’s sloe or dam­son gin and some cit­rus, it is made in a flash in a food pro­ces­sor with fruit stoned and frozen the night be­fore.

Plum, lime and peanut salad

Any type of plums work here – I have used green­gages, vic­to­ria and yel­low va­ri­eties, but the deep pur­ple red look amaz­ing. This recipe is based on a peren­nial favourite from my friend Heidi Swan­son of 101cook­books. com

Serves 4

Olive oil

4 ba­nana shal­lots, peeled, thinly sliced 3 medium gar­lic cloves, very thinly sliced A small thumb of gin­ger, peeled and finely minced

Juice of 2 limes

2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

2 tsp runny honey

8 ripe plums, pit­ted and sliced

4 hand­fuls pep­pery leaves (rocket, mizuna, etc)

100g un­salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

A small hand­ful each of fresh basil, mint and co­rian­der, chopped

1 Heat a lit­tle oil in a large fry­ing pan and cook the shal­lots over a medium heat, stir­ring reg­u­larly, for around 8 min­utes, or un­til they turn golden brown and crisp. Then add the gar­lic cloves, cook for another minute, or un­til the edges be­gin to brown, then stir in the gin­ger for the fi­nal minute. Tip the con­tents of the pan on to a sheet of kitchen pa­per to cool.

2 Mix the lime juice, soy sauce and honey in a small bowl. Taste and ad­just, adding a lit­tle more of each as needed to bal­ance the flavours.

3 Put the plums and pep­pery leaves into a large mix­ing bowl. Driz­zle with half the dress­ing, and toss very gently. Add the shal­lot mix­ture, most of the peanuts, and most of the herbs. Toss gently to dis­trib­ute ev­ery­thing evenly. Taste, de­cide if you want to add more dress­ing, and serve sprin­kled with the re­main­ing peanuts and herbs.

Quick dam­son and sloe gin sor­bet

You’ll need to be­gin this recipe a day ahead. Use a food pro­ces­sor here – mine is a stan­dard Mag­imix with a reg­u­lar blade and it works per­fectly. How much sugar you will need de­pends on three fac­tors: whether you use plums or damsons (damsons will be tarter), what kind of sloe gin you’re us­ing (home­made and shop-bought ver­sions vary greatly) and, fi­nally, how ripe the fruit is. I think if you’re us­ing plums you can po­ten­tially get away with no sugar. Also, damsons will take longer to stone. 1kg damsons or red plums, stoned Zest of 1 or­ange

150ml sloe or dam­son gin 5 tbsp golden caster sugar, or to taste

1 Stone the damsons. Dis­card the stones. Put the flesh into a freezer bag, then put this into the freezer – keep­ing the fruit in a sin­gle, flat layer – for at least 24 hours to al­low the skin to split. 2 Take the damsons out of the freezer, al­low­ing them to de­frost for 15 min­utes or so. Tip the par­tially de­frosted damsons into a food pro­ces­sor, then blitz un­til the fruit has been re­ally finely chopped.

3 Add the or­ange zest, sloe gin and sugar, then blitz again un­til it looks like a smooth sor­bet. Have a taste and add a lit­tle more sugar, if you like. You can eat it im­me­di­ately or tip the mix­ture into a con­tainer and store in the freezer for up to 3 weeks – you will need to leave it out of the freezer for about 5 min­utes be­fore scoop­ing.

The sweet acid­ity is a tan­ta­lis­ing foil to some pep­pery leaves and the but­tery crunch of peanuts

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