Plentiful Plums

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Here in the UK, at this time of year the plums are just turning, and will soon be past their best. If you’re lucky like me, you might have a friend with a plum tree, or even your own, but if not, you can pick up gorgeous home grown ones anywhere for a bargain. Especially if you don’t mind that they have started to look a bit squishy. Take it from me, you can still get loads of uses out of them.

Plums are grown on every continent in the world, apart from Antarctica, so the chances are that even if your local plums aren’t at their best now, your time will come soon. If you didn’t know, just one average sized plum has 113mg of potassium in it, which can help reduce your blood pressure and your risk of having a stroke. They are full of fibre, and are a low GI food, so will fill you up for longer. And, of course their beautiful colouring, caused by those anthocyanins (part of the flavonoid group of anti-oxidant) will help protect from cancer and other diseases. All good reasons then to make the most of them.

But if you do get given a bagful, or if you are finding hard to chomp your way through all the plums you may have in your food bowl, give these two recipes a go. Warm up your weekend with the cocktail, and round it off perfectly after a Sunday roast with the pie.

Easy Peasy Plum Pie

1 kg plums

2 tbsps light brown sugar

220g plain flour

20g icing (powdered) sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

120g butter (ice cold, cubed)

2 tbsps or so of cold milk

Start by roasting your plums. Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C.

Cut them in half. Don’t worry about removing the stone, it will come out much better after they have been roasted. Throw them all in a roasting dish, and sprinkle over the brown sugar. Taste your plums first, they may not need so much.

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Roast them for about forty minutes so that they are soft but still holding their shape, then take out of the oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, start making your pastry. Put your flour, icing sugar, cinnamon and vanilla into the bowl of a food processor, then chuck in the cubed butter.

Blitz, until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Pour in the milk, slowly, until the mixture comes together in a ball of dough. Remember, the secret to making good pastry is not to overwork the dough, so as soon as a cohesive ball has formed, stop your food processor.

Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.

When you are ready, roll out your pastry to cover the bottom of your pie dish. I like to blind bake mine at this stage. I know, the filling is cooked so it shouldn’t need it, but the plums can get quite juicy and I find it really helps. So, cover the base in greaseproof paper, and fill with baking beans and bake for 10 minutes in a preheated oven (180 deg. C) Then remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Now it is time to fill your pie. Take the plum halves, remove the stone from the side that still has the stone in, and pop them in your pie base. Roll out your pastry lid, cover, seal the edges and bake again for around 20 minutes. For the last 5 minutes, I like to glaze mine with a beaten egg, but the choice is yours.

Eat whilst it’s still hot with vanilla ice cream, or home made custard.

Now, when I made this last, after making the pie, I still had roughly a quarter of the plums left as well as all of the juice. Whatever you do, do not bin these! Puree them up, sieve the puree, and either freeze for use later in the cocktail, or go for it straight away.

Plum Cosmopolitan

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Combine 2 tbsps vodka with 1 tbsp triple sec in a cocktail shaker, over several ice cubes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, and then 3 tbsps of your plum juice.

If you’ve got company and are making more, stick with the same ratios and you’ll be fine. As long as you stick to one.

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