Aged Fruit 911: Savory Plum Compote

Filed under: Bites & Bits,Cooking Tips,Recipes , Tags: , — Author: Caron Golden , July 9, 2018

No doubt, like me, you have the best of intentions when you are at the market, especially during spring and summer. All that gorgeous produce in all their vibrant colors and alluring fragrances can be too much to pass up. So you buy. And buy. And buy. You put the veggies away in the bins in the fridge and set out the fruit on the counter to ripen.

And you forget about them. Or you accept too many dinner invitations. Or you just overbought and can’t keep up. But time passes and what was once bursting with freshness and seduction is now just this close to becoming garbage.

Of course, you want to prevent that to begin with, but if you somehow let that produce go beyond nature’s expiration date there are ways to save it before it’s time to toss. Veggies can go into soup or a sauce or undergo roasting. And, the same with fruit, too. Puree strawberries (which have virtually no grace period),  add them to a smoothie, or make jam or sorbet. Turn blueberries into a granita. And, as I did recently, rescue über soft plums and pluots and make a savory compote.

Those plums. Oh, they were delicious when fresh. Dribble down the chin juicy with a hint of crunch. Sweet yet tart. But, then I had a spell of outings and there they sat, waiting–fruitlessly–for me to remember they were there. They softened. They sank. And then finally when they caught my eye again they no longer held any attraction and I tried to ignore them. But there was no ignoring them and since I had some free time–and a gorgeous Berkshire pork chop I planned to make for dinner–it occurred to me that I could work their sad state to my advantage and turn them into compote.

Plums and pluots have plenty of natural pectin so they are perfect for jamming and for compote. Since I only had half a dozen pieces of fruit to work with, I decided on the compote as a perfect accompaniment for the pork chop and in about an hour and a half had a gorgeous purple sauce at the ready.

The process is simple. You’ll sauté shallots and garlic until they’re translucent, add a little wine–in my case, Madeira–and reduce it, then add the plums and the rest of the ingredients. Simmer slowly, stirring periodically, and the liquids will gradually evaporate, leaving you with a deeply rich perfumed sauce that complements pork, chicken, and duck.

Now, I’m offering this in the context of preventing waste, but even if you’re cooking for clients and think they’d enjoy a fruity but savory sauce to accompany the proteins you’re cooking for them, a plum–or peach or other fruit–compote is a lovely addition.

Plum Compote

Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot bulb, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Madeira
6 plums, very ripe, seeded and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons blackberry balsamic vinegar (or other fruity balsamic)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 stick cinnamon
1 dried red chile
2 dried lemon verbena leaves, crushed (or 1 teaspoon fresh, minced)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions
In a stainless steel saucepan, add olive oil and heat. When warm, add shallots and garlic. Sweat them until they’re translucent. Add the Madeira and simmer until it disappears.

Add the plums and the rest of the the ingredients and stir to mix. Slowly and gently simmer until the mixture reduces and thickens until jammy–stirring occasionally. It should take about an hour. Discard the cinnamon stick and red chile.

Serve as a sauce with pork, chicken, or duck.

What are the ways you use up tired produce (besides soup)?

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Are you someone who enjoys canning? Well even if you think you have all the resources you need in the form of cookbooks here comes Sarah Marshall’s new book Preservation Pantry: Modern Canning From Root to Top & Stem to Core (Regan Arts/$24.95). It’s the subtitle that says it all. Marshall, creator of Marshall’s Haute Sauce in Oregon, doesn’t only offer unique recipes for preserving harvests, she includes–even stresses–the parts of fruits and vegetables we usually toss. It’s the quintessential no-waste preserving book.

Preservation Pantry is organized to help preserving novices get their bearings. Like any good preserving book, it lays out the tools and equipment and steps to successful canning and preserving, and offers a thorough lesson in the step that most frightens the novice: water baths. What I love about this section are the illustrations that show everything from can jar sizes, chopping, what “headspace” looks like, and how to remove air pockets.

Then come the recipes: first fruit, then vegetables, a to z. Within each section is a preserving recipe, a second recipe for the fruit or vegetable, then a recipe for the “discards” followed by a recipe for using the discards preserves. So, for apples Marshall starts with Ginger Liqueur Spiked Apples, made with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, and ginger liqueur. You’ll remove the peel and core–and save them. The Ginger Liqueur Spiked Apples, she writes, can be used to make her Drunk Apple Crumble recipe a few pages away. The following recipe is for Matcha Tea Applesauce that you can enjoy as part of a breakfast bowl. Again, hang on to the peel and core. Next is her boozy caramel sauce, made from those saved peels and cores, along with whisky, cinnamon, sugar, salted butter, and whipping cream. All this leads to–ta da!–her Drunken Apple Crumble, which contains both the Ginger Liqueur Spiked Apples and the Whiskey Apple-Core Caramel. Brilliant!


And so it goes with cherries (save the pits for making bitters), lemons (save the peel for a spice rub), beets (the leaves will make dolmas while the stems will pickle cauliflower), onions (Onion Peel Powder), and turmeric (Turmeric Skin Golden Cashew Milk). And, of course, there’s more.

Finally, Marshall is an enthusiastic canning clubber, so she has a section at the book’s conclusion all about how to start your own canning club and set up and work a trading table. You’ll also find a section for stocking your pantry, with vendor contact information.

The recipes in the book are quite unusual so they’re bound to be launching points for any enthusiastic canner considering how to use their own local, seasonal bounty.

Do you enjoy canning for clients? What are your favorite fruits or vegetables to preserve?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

The first of the food prognostications for 2017 has been published. Sterling-Rice Group has identified 10 of what they call Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends for 2017. Here they are:

  1. Wake + Cake: Dessert no longer is served only after dinner. They cite two studies to justify dessert for breakfast. The first is from Syracuse University, which says a daily dose of chocolate improves cognitive abilities, such as memory and abstract reasoning. Tel Aviv University found that eating dessert after breakfast could help people lose weight.
    Jennifer Zirkle cake1
  2. Dosha Dining: The mainstays of Indian culture are spreading to the States. They cite the spice turmeric as an example, noting that turmeric serves as a consumer conduit into the ancient practice of Ayurveda, a holistic science focused on physical and emotional balance. Consumers will learn more about their doshas, or natural constitutions, and gravitate toward foods and practices that provide balance, reduce inflammation, and improve energy and stamina. Among the things to look for are dosha bars–three flavors corresponding to the three doshas (pitta, vata, and kapha); turmeric tonic, available as tonic shots and tea, to restore balance; and dosha pops, candy made as a cureall from herbal tea.
  3. Plant Butchery: We’ve cited this trend on our Facebook page. As Sterling-Rice Group notes, a new breed of butcher shops is emerging that caters to both vegans and meat lovers. Not only will display cases feature cuts of meat and chicken, but also plant-based mock versions of chicken, ham, meatballs, steak, and charcuterie. These plant-based foods go beyond seitan and soybean, but also feature chickpeas, corn, peas, legumes, and fungi.

    "Faux" Reuben

    “Faux” Reuben

  4. Food Waste Frenzy: We’ve also talked about this. What was once considered trash (stems, skins, pulp) are not products to be utilized. Think watermelon rinds, riced cauliflower stems, chips and burgers from discarded juice pulp, and vegan leather made from pineapple leaves.

    Charred leek greens salt

    Charred leek greens salt

  5. Snackin’ Sardines: Consumers, said Sterling-Rice Group, continue to fish for protein-rich snacks. Recent interest in Basque cuisine and the rise of Portugal as the newest destination for culinary and global exploration will drive sardines to the forefront. High in omega-3s, protein, and umami flavor, sardines simply served on crusty toast with lemon, garlic, and aioli make for an uncomplicated yet elegant addition to any snacking situation.
  6. Noodle on This: Noodles! It’s not just for spaghetti. Asian noodle traditions are becoming American favorites as consumers seek more authentic experiences. So we have Thai pad see ew, Vietnamese pho, and fresh Japanese ramen. Chinese lamian, or hand-pulled noodles, adds another layer of both taste and visual showmanship. Customers slurp their share while watching a master noodle-smith knead, stretch, and swing dough into strands for soup.
  7. Mocktail Mixology: Have clients who don’t care for alcohol? A category of upscale mixologist-created mocktails are being shaken and stirred for those who don’t care to drink alcohol every time they dine. Alternatives to the old standby of club soda and lime feature fresh-pressed juices, flavored teas, sipping vinegars, and macerated and muddled herbs, spices, and fruits. From nonalcoholic happy hours to standalone mocktail menus, beverages are being positioned as unique experiences that can be enjoyed sans the hangover. (Our favorites? Aged sherry vinegar from Spain and homemade shrubs)

    Berry Shrub1a

    Berry shrub with seltzer

  8. Goat! Get It!: Goat is the next go-to protein, says Sterling-Rice Group. Goats have a high ratio of interstitial collagen (the stuff bone broth devotees are bonkers over). The meat is also low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. Already 63 percent of the world is eating goat. It can be a great foundation for spicy and sour preparations, can be kosher and halal, and is sustainable to raise.
  9. Cook + Connect: The saying “sharing is caring” rings true with chefs, home cooks, and foodies alike who are taking advantage of the sharing economy, says Sterling-Rice Group. Smartphone apps like Eatwith and “Etsy for dinner” app Umi Kitchen connect eager eaters with communal dining experiences. And the fleet-farming movement allows others to farm your lawn in exchange for the opportunity to sell most of the produce.
  10. Migratory Meals: All over the world people are relocating, some by choice, others under duress. While host countries continue to face challenges associated with helping refugee populations, one area where these different groups are finding common ground is food, according to Sterling-Rice Group. By celebrating their unique cultural heritages and cuisines, refugee populations are beginning to carve out their own culinary connections with their new home countries. Look for menus that highlight cuisine with herbs and fresh flowers, orange blossoms, cardamom, fenugreek, sumac, pistachio, and pomegranates. Sounds familiar to those of us who live in San Diego, where multiple refugee populations have long settled and introduced older residents to new cuisines. Check out local markets to incorporate new-to-you ingredients into your dishes.

    Afghan sweet bread

    Afghan sweet bread

This is just the first of what will surely be many more prognostications for 2017’s culinary scene. We’ll keep you posted as we discover them.

What are some of the culinary trends you’re beginning to see in your region? Please share them with us below!

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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