Thursday, 2 August 2007

Making the most of Mirabelles

Last year our mirabelle plums were golden yellow but this year they have progressed to ruby red. The beautiful jewelled fruits hung amidst the branches like baubles on Christmas trees. Reflecting the light they shone invitingly. I was sad to have picked them because the leafy branches would only be green and brown until next Summertime.

Stone us and eat us, the plum fruits sighed.

So we did.

Measure 150 g butter, 75 g sugar, and 225 g plain flour into a bowl and with your fingers mix lightly together until it is a crumbly mixture. Continue using your fingers and press the mixture into a 20cm diameter glass flan dish. Break an egg into a cup and whisk with a fork and pour over the shortcake. Bake in oven 190°C for about 5 minutes. Take out and arrange the pre-stoned mirabelle plums on the top leaving no gaps. Scatter with a very light sprinkling of caster sugar, and for the courageous a small smidgeon pinch of dried lavender flowers. Bake in the centre of an oven for about 30 minutes, however, depending on the fruit it may take longer. You can serve it warm or cold as it is, or with a dollop of crème fraîche, yoghurt or cream. As a variation use fresh stoned apricot fruits.

Compôte des Mirabelles

1 kg fruit, 200-225 g sugar, 300 ml red wine,
a sprig of fresh rosemary, one or two cinnamon sticks depending on size
or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon powder
plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Wash and stone the fruits. In a saucepan bring all to the boil and then simmer gently until well cooked and reduced. Using a slotted spoon or sieve remove the fruit from the juice and reduce the juice further until it is syrupy. Cool and chill. In a small pretty glass half-fill with fruit, then a layer of crème fraîche, more fruit and a top layer of crème fraîche. Sprinkle with a few edible dried lavender flowers for decoration.
The juice and fruits can be kept in the refrigerator in a clean sealed jar or plastic container for up to two weeks.

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