Monday, October 19, 2009

The One


Have you ever had a perfect food moment, when everything is just flawless: the food, the moment, the place and the people you're sharing everything with? Mine involves a snowy winter day, a sleigh ride, two people who are unfortunately no longer in my life and sitting in the windowsill in my favourite little country house, savouring every little bite of these beautiful plum dumplings. That day must have been one of the most perfect days of my life. It was many many moons ago, but every time I make these little treasures, it all comes back to me.
We all have an absolute, hands down, all time favourite food, right? You know, the food you would ask for for your last meal on this planet. Mine are plum dumplings. They're like sweet gnocchi filled with fresh plums, loadsa cinnamon sugar and rolled in toasted breadcrumbs. Some people like to serve them with sweetened double cream, but I prefer a generous dusting of powdered sugar.

I don't like a very potatoey flavour, so I use a little bit more flour than most recipes ask for. This will make them perfect when freshly made and served warm. The amount of flour you need also depends on the potatoes you're using. The dough must be soft, not too sticky so it can be rolled out easily.

Plum dumplings



400 g cooked, peeled potatoes
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp semolina
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
16 to 18 small prune plums
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
powdered sugar and toasted breadcrumbs for serving

Deseed your plums. Mix caster sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Take each plum and fill them with the sugar mixture. Set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Push potatoes through a potato ricer in a large bowl. Add salt, egg, oil, semolina. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon. Now add your flour, in three parts and mix together with your hands. Work dough into a smooth ball. Add more flour if necessary.
Using a well floured working surface, roll out dough to make it 5mm thick. Cut dough using a sharp knife into about 18 little squares. Place a cinnamon sugar filled plum onto center of each square. Now shape them into small dumplings, using more flour if necessary. Cook them for about 15 to 20 minutes. Gently take them out into a sieve, letting excess water drip of. Place dumplings into the warm toasted breadcrumbs. Dust with cinnamon sugar and serve.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to the basics


I worry a lot. Usually about things that are beyond my control, which makes the whole thing pointless. So why worry?
Just try to stay on the positive side, right? Sure, easier said that done. I'm always in a roadrunner mood. Go, get it, now, fast typeathing. I get overly excited about the most trivial things. And when I have a cloud over my head, the last thing on my mind would be food. I cannot touch food, for the life of me. That may very well be the reason I haven't spent much time in the kitchen lately. That, and also the abundance of fresh local apples, that I have been devouring by the buckets (left no room for anything else). They're so incredibly crisp when freshly picked! I'd always go for a freshly picked apple over any apple dessert.
On my last trip to the farmers' market however I bought so many different types, that I just didn't know where to keep them.
So I made the simplest, most delicious apple squares I could think of. I've been enjoying these since I was a toddler. Never thought of them as dessert. They're a meal in their own right. Make them in the evening. Take the whole pan with you, go to your dark oak library, (I don't have one, but you go ahead and do it), close the door behind you, choose a leather-bound mystery, plant yourself comfortably in your reading chair and devour them while still warm. Don't expect a lot of leftovers.

Apple cinnamon squares


300 g all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 large egg
125 g sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100 ml sour cream
1/2 tbsp vanilla


3,5 to 4 lb of your favourite apples
1 tbsp cinnamon
Juice of half a lemon

Preheat oven to 375F.
Butter and flour a medium sized baking pan, knocking out excess flour.
For dough: mix all ingredients to form a smooth dough. Divide in two. Cover with a tea towel, chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
For filling: peel and grate all the apples. Squeeze them by the hand fulls to get rid of the excess juice. You should get about two cups of apple juice, depending on the apple. Put juice aside for later use.
Mix in cinnamon and lemon juice.
Roll out half of your dough, to fit your pan. Dough will be thin. Pour apple mixture evenly over dough in pan, cover with second rolled out dough. Prick dough all over with a fork and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Strawberries. For the last time.


Since I'm not a fan of those imported rubbery monsters we can all "enjoy" during the winter. Go out and grab the very last, late Ontario strawberries. Now. Run. Serve them macerated, with some whipped cream, or alongside your favourite brownie.
I still have a handful of them. They deserve a regal treatment, even if they're not exactly freshly picked. I'll bake them. Gently, for a few minutes to soften and release those juices. Then knock them over with homemade custard. Real vanilla, please!!!