Plum Compote with Earl Grey Tea

What to do with all those fine blue plums, and yes, they really do have a bluey hue to them:

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Well, when in Rome …

The Germans love their compotes so, building up stocks for my pop-up shop at the autumn artisan market, compote it shall be, but with an English touch of course:

Plum Compote with Earl Grey Tea

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1 kg purple plums, halved and stoned

2-3 Tbsp. sugar

Tea leaves of your choice, in a tea bag, e.g. Earl Grey, or Green Tea with Orange, or Black Tea with Winter Spices

  1. Place your plums in a large saucepan, sprinkle with the sugar, place the lid on and leave to sit for several hours, ideally overnight but for at least 3 hours. The sugar draws the fruit’s own liquid out of it, eliminating the need to add any water for cooking, resulting in a far more intense flavour.
  1. Stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Place the tea bag in amongst the plums and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the fruit is soft and falling apart but not completely mushy. Remove the tea bag, taking care not to puncture it otherwise your compote will be full of tea leaves.
  1. Place in sterilised jars, seal and store in a cool, dark place where the compote will keep for several months.

The tea harmonizes exceptionally well with the flavour of purple plums and you can use the compote in a multitude of ways from breakfast through to dinner.

 

 

 

 

The King’s Candles

… or Verbascum, and sometimes mullein, as this genus (Verbascum, of which there are some 350 species…) is known in English.

I do think, though, that the German Königskerze does for more justice to this plant which becomes truly regal when it flowers in July:

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Favouring dry, sandy soils in the sun (and therefore often to be found flourishing on wasteland), the Königskerze is not only regal, it has a tradition of healing dating back to Hippocrates. The plant has distinct emollient, demulcent and astringent properties and, while Hippocrates reccommended it for the external treatment of wounds, the Königskerze went on to develop a tradition of treating coughs, colds and respiratory complaints.

The flowers have robust, fleshy petals making them difficult to dry and so one of the best and easiest ways of extracting their healing properties is to use them to make an infused honey in readiness for the onset of autumn and winter:

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1) You need to pick the flowers on a dry day, either in the morning or in the evening, not in the heat of the day, and only pick the blossoms fully open. You need to use the blossoms immediately (they will wilt and start to turn brown within hours otherwise) so make sure you have a sterilised jar (I fill the jar with boiling water direct from the kettle and leave it to stand for at least 5 minutes before using) and the honey with you.

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2) Place your blossoms directly into your sterilised jar, enough to fill the jar, pour in the honey, seal and rotate the jar a good couple of times to make sure all of the blossoms are covered in a coating of honey.

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3) Leave to infuse at room temperature for about 2 weeks. At the end of the infusing, strain the honey into a clean, sterilised jar for storage and/or immediate use either directly as a teaspoonful of honey medicine for ailing children, or to sweeten herbal teas.

Elderflowers and Strawberries

One of the most summery flavour combinations there is!

And one of the simplest ways to enjoy this combination throughout the summer months is to make yourself some Elderflower-Infused Honey

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now, while the elderflowers are in blossom –

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and drizzle it over your strawberries at will.

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Do it, you will be glad you did!

P.S. Works well with all summer berries 🙂

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Forest Fire at Fifty

Black Forest Gateau x 5, candles x 50 = 1 BIG flame!

(Note fire engine bottom right 🙂 )

Such were our festivities in Hermann the German‘s honour yesterday, most appropriately on the eve of the shortest day here in the northern hemisphere:

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Christmas Mince Pies, Orchard Style

A widely-circulated “organic” food magazine here in Germany is currently featuring a recipe for “Mini Nut Pies”, described as an “English speciality”, with a list of ingredients based on dried apricots and “nut mix”… oh dear, oh dear… not what the English would recognise as their Christmas mince pies!

In the interests of improved culinary integration, here come my orchard-style Christmas mince pies…

Meadow Orchard Christmas Mincemeat

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encased in almond pastry – these are alcohol-free (no brandy) and vegetarian (no suet) but still very close to the original “English speciality”:

10418394_10204265921821260_8817699170069391702_n Mince Pies

Image courtesy of www.taylorsphotosafaris.co.uk

Almond Pastry

Plain flour                                                 225g

pinch of salt

Butter                                                        110g

Ground almonds, blanched                140g

Sugar                                                          45g

Beaten egg

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the ground almonds.
  2. Stir in the sugar and add enough beaten egg (probably one whole egg) to just bind the mixture together. Knead lightly. Chill before use then roll out, cut out rounds, fill them with Meadow Orchard Christmas Mincemeat and bake at 200°C until golden brown

Advent

It starts with a wreath :

Typically featuring four candles representing the four seasons enjoyed during the course of the year, the candles on the Advent wreath are lit one at a time on each of the four Sundays preceding the “Wend”, the Winter Solstice, now ‘Christianised’ as Christmas Eve (in Germany) or Christmas Day (in the Anglo Saxon realm).

And the first week of Advent is going to be about:

Mulling Syrup, Meadow Orchard Christmas Mincemeat and The BEST Gingerbread Biscuits

for Advent in Germany is about “Plätzchen”, the bright side of the dark time of the year!

Plätzchen with copyright