End of Summer Fruits

IMG_4996Whilst gently heating my leftover stuffed peppers for dinner (we invent many dinners using leftovers), and finally feeling very relaxed and focused after a gruesome encounter with my physiotherapist, I decided it would be a good time to dig into my mental ’food archives’.

As promised, September is a month bringing many interesting flavours. It’s the end of the Summer fruit season. Perfect time to make the most of the last peaches and melons. Figs, grapes and also local pears are still available, but in the minority. The ‘Settembrina’ will now be around: the September prune. Then the pomegranate, and the fruit season is over.

Working on an article for Taste Magazine, I prepared one of my favourite recipes: the End of Summer fruit platter with spiced wine sauce. The kitchen smelled of Christmas; however, no Christmas platter could contain the local Bambinella and in-season peaches! And as a firm believer in eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, we need not wait for Christmas to make this wonderful, sweet spiced platter. Using the same peaches from the platter, i also made a Scottish classic, yet giving it a little twist. I replaced the raspberries with peaches and voila! Peach Cranachan. 

Deep Autumnal colours: amber, red, pinks and deep yellows. Sweet smells of cinnamon, star anise, cloves and cardamom. Crunchy, smooth, delicious fruits.

Uncle Brian kept eyeing the platter, but was warned not to ‘even dare touch' the ‘wreath’ before I took enough shots to be satisfied! Even Jane from the kitchen kept trying, but with one ‘evil-eye’ look they all instantly understood. I recall one very busy Saturday morning. I had a mise-en-place (preparation) list fit to make me break into a sweat, and to top it all, I had a chocolate cake order.IMG_4936

Even though my recipe was tried, tested and executed several times, this particular time, it decided to fail on me. It didn’t rise evenly! Too much baking powder? Too much liquid? Oven not hot enough? Oven too hot? I had no time to solve the problem. I opted for a thick chocolate cream to cover my ‘dent’. However, Miss Kitchen Terror Jane decided to help by taking the cake out of the tin whilst still hot. It broke, so she started to eat it, even making sure I saw her, face covered in chocolate, teeth caked withlush warm cake, a smile from ear to ear! A steaming kettle? Worse! I must have looked like a locomotive running loose. To cut the story short…I re-baked, and we still are friends… to date.

Moral of the story…. Never mess with anyone’s baking, never mess with my un-photographed food. Patience is a virtue, and can lead to a treat! Look at Zachary…. perfect example. He claimed the peach cranachan at the end of it all. 

Claire Borg

 

Late Summer Poached Fruit Platter with Spiced Wine Sauce

By 9th September 2013

Ingredients

Instructions

Prepare the fruits. Wash, leave whole or cut as desired. Each kind of fruit has to be the same size. Place the water and spices in a large pot. Add 50 grams of the sugar and bring to the boil. Start adding, one kind of fruit at a time.  Fruits cut in smaller pieces will cook quicker. Make sure they are cooked yet still a bit crunchy. Place nicely in a large tray, not to squash. When all the fruits are cooked, boil down the water for about 10 minutes, then measure 200 ml of it and discard the rest. Place the spiced sweet water back in the pot, add the 200 grams of sugar and the 200 ml of red wine and boil down to a thin syrup consistency. Serve the warm fruits arranged nicely, with warm syrup.  If pomegranates are around, add a few ‘jewels’ to decorate the platter.

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