Tag: damson plums

Plum Dumplings with Cinnamon Breadcrumb Butter – Swabian Zwetschgenknödel

Plum Dumplings

Plums, potato dough, browned breadcrumb butter, sugar and cinnamon – this southern German sweet doesn’t call for many ingredients but it puts them together in just the right way. The result is heavenly: sweet plum dumplings with browned breadcrumb butter and cinnamon sugar – or in German – Zwetschgenknödel!

My versatile Gnocchi dough makes another appearance for this recipe. For Friday’s Bavarian beer roasted pork, I recommended savory potato dumplings with the same dough. For this traditional Swabian dish, I use it to wrap sweet and sour plums with a thin layer of the potato mixture to turn the blue fruits into sweet, fruity dumplings.

Whenever I make this recipe, I consider reducing the amount of butter and sugar for just a split second, but luckily I never do. This dish really needs all the lusciousness of its decadent topping. I learnt about these dumplings from my Swabian step father Uli and he taught me that a dessert is there to enjoy and not about counting calories. Every time we make the Knödel together in my mother’s kitchen, he reminds us to keep the potato dough layer very thin, that’s how he learnt to do it from his mother and grandmother. It’s our job to form the dumplings but it’s his to take care of  the quality control, and he is a very picky instructor!

It can be a bit fiddly getting the little balls in shape, to make it a little bit easier you should use small plums like Damsons and keep your fingers moist while  you’re working with the dough.

Plum Dumplings

 

Plum Dumplings

Plum Dumplings with cinnamony Breadcrumb Butter – the Swabian Zwetschgenknoedel

For about 30 plum dumplings you need

small plums (like Damsons) 30 (about 800g / 2 pounds)
sugar cubes 30

Cut the plums open on one side, take out the seed and fill each fruit with a sugar cube, close the fruit as well as possible.

 

For the topping

butter 100g / 3.5 ounces
breadcrumbs 50g / 2 ounces
sugar 50g / 2 ounces
cinnamon 1 teaspoon

Combine the sugar and cinnamon.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter with the breadcrumbs. Cook the mixture for a few minutes on medium-high temperature until golden brown. Don’t let it burn or it will taste bitter.

 

For the potato dough

potatoes, cut into cubes, 450g / 16 ounces
butter 30g / 1 ounce
organic egg yolks 2
plain flour 120g / 4.5 ounces
salt 1/2 teaspoons

Cook the the potatoes in salted water until soft (around 15 minutes), drain them when they are done. Press the drained, warm potatoes through a potato ricer and mix immediately with the butter and egg yolks. Let the mixture cool completely before you continue with the next step!

With a spoon (or your hands), mix the cold potato mixture with the flour and salt until combined.

 

The plum dumplings

Your fingers should be wet while you’re forming the dumplings, so keep a little bowl of water right next to you.

In a large pot, bring lots of water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the boil.

With a tablespoon, take a walnut sized ball of the potato dough. Shape a flat ball and lay it flat in the palm of your moistened hand, pushing down the middle with the thumb of your other hand. Lay the plum (cut side down) into the center of the dough and gently start pushing and rolling up the dough until the whole fruit is covered with a thin layer (the blue of the plums will be just visible in some places, see my second to last picture). If the dough starts tearing, take a little bit more to cover the fruits. Place the dumplings on a grid until you’re done with all of them (when you take the dumplings off the grid you might have to even out the grid’s mark with your fingers).

Cook the dumplings in batches in the hot but not boiling water (simmering) for about 8-10 minutes or until they start to float on the surface. Take the dumplings out with a slotted ladle and let them drain on a grid for a few seconds.

Put the cooked dumplings into a large bowl or onto a plate, pour over the warm browned breadcrumb butter and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.

Plum Dumplings

 

Plum Dumplings

 

Plum Dumplings

 

Plum Dumplings

Spicy deep purple Plum Chutney

Spicy Plum Chutney

I’m running out of time! There are still so many plum recipes I want to write about but the local blue fruits are almost at the end of their season. This recipe is one of my classic preserves, a spicy deep purple plum chutney.

I prepare my chutneys all year round so that my pantry is always filled with plums, rhubarb and apples. I try a few others once in a while but these three are my standards, the ones that I can’t, or don’t want to, live without. I have special combinations with each of them and the plum chutney is my favourite for cold roasts or hard mountain cheese. The one that I cook with apples is the strongest of all and it can take even the ripest French camembert!

When I wrote about one of my early sandwiches, a hearty homemade mountain bun stuffed with ham, cheese and plum chutney, I got so many requests for this chutney. I felt a bit bad as I wrote about it in December not thinking that it would take another eight months for plums to be in season again. So here it is, get started and enjoy with whatever comes into your mind. That’s great about chutneys, they taste so strong but they work so well in all kinds of unusual combinations!

Spicy Plum Chutney

Spicy Plum Chutney

For a 1l / 2 pint jar and one small jar you need

ripe plums, pitted and quartered, 1kg / 2 1/4 pounds
sour apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped, 3 (around 300g / 10.5 ounces)
small red onions, roughly chopped, 3
cider vinegar 350ml / 12 ounces
Balsamico vinegar 50ml / 2 ounces
sugar 200g /7 ounces
garlic, chopped, 1 big clove
fresh ginger, grated, 1 heaped tablespoon
fresh red hot chili pepper, without seeds, finely chopped, 1
small dried red chili peppers 2-3
ground turmeric 1/4 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
black peppercorns, ground in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
star anise, ground in a mortar, 3 single pieces
cloves, ground in the mortar, 20
fennel seeds, ground in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
spirit to sterilise the rims of the jars

Sterilise the jars in boiling water for 5 minutes.

In a large pot, bring all the ingredients to the boil. Cook the chutney (slightly bubbling) without a lid for about an hour on medium temperature until it thickens. After 30 minutes, check the spiciness, either take out the dried chilies or leave them in till the end if you prefer it more hot, but take them out before you fill the chutney into the jars.

Dip the rim of the strilised jars in spirit and wash out the lids with the alcohol as well. Fill your jars with the chutney and close well immediately.

You can eat the chutney right away but I prefer to let it sit for at least 3 weeks. You should keep an open jar in the fridge (mine stays fresh for months) and the closed jars in your pantry.

Spicy Plum Chutney

 

Spicy Plum Chutney

 

Spicy Plum Chutney

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

This sandwich has been on my mind for weeks and it might have something to do with the fact that my kitchen has become a store room for Damson plums. I buy these fruits in big baskets, lots of them, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end soon. As long as they are in season, I’m a loyal and dedicated fan! They give me endless inspiration for sweet and savory dishes and for new culinary experiments. I’m hooked on their strong taste, this subtle sweet and sour combination goes so well with all kinds of spices and flavours. The common round black plums are another kind that taste much sweeter but they’re lacking in depth, so I strongly recommend Damsons for my sandwich!

And here it comes, a new sausage sandwich! The last time I made one was in Malta, my sausage sandwich with rucola and coriander oil. Today, I feature this spice oil again, coriander seed infused olive oil, as it goes so well with this kind of meat. The seeds are actually one of the main ingredients of Maltese sausage which is one of the best in the world to me (and that means a lot from a German!). I sprinkle the oil and the crunchy seeds on the buns and let them soak into the soft and juicy sponginess, that’s my favourite way to start a sandwich!

I fried a couple thick, coarse sausages with fresh rosemary needles. The herb is great for the topping when it turns woody and crisp, but the needles also add their aroma to the frying juices which I pour on the buns before I put the meat on. And now, my fruit of the season comes in, I caramelized the plums for just a few minutes in sugary butter, I wanted them soft but not soggy. Their sour sweetness combined with the dark flavour of caramel is all a sausage sandwich could ask for! We loved it!

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

For 2 sandwiches you need

juicy buns, cut in half, 2
coarse sausages (like Salsiccia) 2
fresh rosemary, the needles of a small sprig
plums (preferably Damsons), cut in half and pitted, 8
butter 1 tablespoon
sugar 1 teaspoon
olive oil 3 tablespoons plus more for the sausages
coriander seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon

In a sauce pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the coriander seeds and let them infuse the oil on medium heat for 2 minutes.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the sausages until golden brown on all sides. Add the rosemary needles for the last 2 minutes or until they are crisp, but not dark. Cut the sausages in half and set aside, keep the frying juices.

Melt the butter and sugar in a pan on a high temperature. When the sugar starts to turn brown, add the plums, cut side first. Cook for 2 minutes, gently turn the fruits and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat.

Brush the buns with the coriander oil, add some of the seeds and lay the plums on top. Brush the sausages with a little of the caramelized juices of the plums and put them on top of the fruits. Pour all the remaining juices of the sausages and plums over the sandwiches and sprinkle with a few of the crisp rosemary needles. Close, squeeze and enjoy!

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

This is the kind of jam I would eat for breakfast in the mountains, in an old wooden hut, the morning table strewn with rustic delicacies, thick slices of a hearty loaf of bread, Tyrolean prosciutto, strong cheese, rich butter and this dark jam. It’s very fruity and concentrated. The purple fruits cook for around 20 minutes with cinnamon and star anise which gives this thick spread a warm autumn touch (I don’t really like to call it wintery yet, it’s still too early in the year). The little pieces of the fruits’ skin curl up and turn into caramelised fruit bites, delicious!

For my jams, spreads and chutneys, I always try to find the ripest fruits possible, it makes such a difference in taste! Especially when it comes to plums which develop the best side of their strong aromas when they start to soften. Natural sweetness, that’s all you need! A hard and sour fruit won’t develop its whole range of flavours in a jam.

I call this spread my Tyrolean Plum Jam as my mountain memories lie in Corvara in the Alta Badia region in South Tyrol. We used to spend many winter holidays in the Italian Dolomite Alps when I was a child, a time of hearty mountain food, aromatic cakes and strudels and some of the best breakfast tables I’ve ever had!

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

When you cook jam you should always use a tall pot to prevent the jam from boiling over. The fruits will be two to three times as high when they’ve reached boiling point! My pot is 24cm / 9.5″ high and 20cm / 8″ wide.

For 3-4 medium sized jars you need

ripe dark plums (preferably damson plums), pitted and chopped, 1kg/ 2 1/4 pounds
granulated sugar 600g / 1 1/4 pounds
star anise 4 single pieces
ground cinnamon 3 heaped teaspoons or 1 cinnamon stick

Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for 5 minutes. Dip the rims of the jars in spirit and wash out the lids, wash the ladle (you will use to fill the jars) with the alcohol as well. If you can get a thick foil for jam jars (thicker than cling film), cut out 3-4 circles roughly the size of the jars and put into the spirit as well.

Put the fruits, sugar and spices in a pot and bring to the boil, stirring with a long wooden spoon every now and then. When the boiling point is reached (you should see quite a few bubbles coming up), let the jam boil for 20 minutes, carefully stirring a couple times (without burning your hand, hence the long spoon!).

Take the pot off the heat and fill the prepared jars with the sterilized ladle almost to the top. Cover with the circles of foil and close tightly immediately. Let the jam sit for a day (or even a month) before you put it on your breakfast table and store the jars in your pantry.

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

 

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise