Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Maples And Plums

The two maples in the garden are about to enter a restful period after putting on a spectacular grand finale, last week the Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' was shimmering the cleanest, purest, yellow, its brilliance made me smile as I caught flashes of it through the mullions, a reminder of how much I love this season of exuberance and decay, now it is receding to hues of burnt gold, singed umber and sepia on the edges, soon its pretty frock will lie crumpled and faded on the garden floor, but wait! this tree has a glorious resurrection and will reveal its striking naked red frame to the frigid air and will maintain a festive complexion throughout the winter. The other maple, Acer palmatum 'atropurpureum' is living up to its name but there are also ruby reds and glowing ambers all fired up for the final flourish.

Deep purple plums (figs are good too) nestled in a sweet golden batter, a dessert for fall if ever I saw one. I make a lot of clafoutis, it's my reliable dessert, the one I make confidently and the one that can be made with any fruit (savory ones are good too) that happens to be in season. After a dinner of roasted lamb chops, Jansonn's temptation, green beans with hazelnut oil and roasted red peppers, we sat beside the roaring fire with our friends and ate slices of clafoutis with cardamom cream, the NZ'er makes a good fire; there's a lot of preparation, but I like to add the occasional carefully selected log and do a bit of prodding while daydreaming about gypsies and fires. Ahhhh, another evening in Montauk replete with stories and good cheer and the warmth and magic of the fire. 

Plum Clafoutis
Adapted from a recipe - Potager by Georganne Brennan

about 8-10 medium sized plums
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup marsala wine (I have also used maraschino)
2 tablespoons water

1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup all purpose flour

Halve plums and in a saucepan bring brown sugar, marsala and water to a boil until a medium thick, brown syrup forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the plums, let them soak for about 30 minutes, turning them over once. Preheat oven to 350f, butter a round baking dish that is at least 1 1/2 inches deep and 12 inches diameter. Make batter by combining all ingredients in electric mixer and beat for about 5 minutes or until mixture is frothy. Lift figs from syrup with a slotted spoon and place in baking dish, pour batter over figs and bake in oven until puffed and brown and a knife inserted comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.