Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Yanked Old-time Favorites

I have always wanted to spend just a little time and rework some of the old recipes our fore=families enjoyed so many generations ago. Of course, the supermarkets carry such a wide array of international treats now that we don't often think back to the day when all desserts and treats were made at home. And not to mention that as far back as the 17th century here in New England, fresh fruits were a rarity, unless you or your neighbors grew them. Dried figs, currants, raisins and plums were abundant because they stored well on the voyage from Mother England to New England.
We were content with these naturally sweet fruits and used them all year round in every conceivable recipe. When the Holidays rolled around, us Yankees simply incorporated these dried fruits in a special preparation, such as Plum Pudding and Whips.
Although there is not much you can do in the way of the visual appeal of dried plums, I have taken privileges with these classics and hopefully revamped them for your enjoyment today. I think you will fall in love with the following recipes and not only taste what our ancestors enjoyed but with a whole new flavor to boot.

Cheers to Plum Pudding

My take on this timeless classic that our fore-families enjoyed during the Yuletide season. Plum Pudding has received a bad rap the past couple of generations because of its unappealing look and almost bland, but sweet, flavor. Because our ancestors lacked the array of flavors so widely available today(much like when I was a child, we enjoyed homemade treats more than store brand sweets), they were content with any sweet that could be prepared at home. So, using a little Yankee ingenuity, this age-old dessert has no lack of flavor and can now be enjoyed yet again, gracing our Holiday tables with a twist.

Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup pitted dried plums(prunes)
1(10-ounce)jar cherries without stems, in syrup
1/2 cup dark or flavored rum, or 2 teaspoons rum, almond or vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
5 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
Whipped topping or ice cream if desired


Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a blender or food processor, pulse milk, sugar, dried plums, cherries(with the syrup), rum, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg until well blended and the plums have been reduced to very small bits. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in the beaten eggs and melted butter. Stir in the flour until well incorporated and almost lump free. Pour in prepared pan and bake 35-37 minutes, or until the middle is set and the edges spring back when touched. Remove from oven to cool slightly before serving with whipped topping. This is great completely cooled as well.

Dried Plum-Cherry "Jam"

This amazingly sweet spread is perfect on your morning bagels, English muffins or sweet muffins. By heating up a mixture of 2 cups apple cider or juice, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, it makes a terrific glaze and sauce for your baked ham this Christmas.

1 cup pitted, dried plums(prunes)
1(10-ounce)jar whole cherries in juice, without stems
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse on high until it has been minced, but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, it will be thick, so give it a stir and enjoy.

Sugar Plum-berry Whip

Talk about taking a trip back in time. My grandfather, the first Yankee Chef, made Prune Whip in the early 20s because it was THE dessert of the time. Little did he know that, although great tasting in its own right, the third Yankee Chef would Yank his recipe so that today's palate can enjoy this forgotten, creamy, mousse-like whip. The tang of pomegranate is just what this recipe needed to spark the sweet desire even in children.

1(9-ounce) box or bag of pitted, dried plums(prunes)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon both nutmeg and dried ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place plums, honey and pomegranate juice to the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse until the size of rice. Transfer to a medium saucepan with 1 cup heavy cream and spices. Bring close to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat to completely cool in refrigerator, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, beat 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1/2 cup sugar while beating, until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream to the cooled pomegranate mixture, along with the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Sweet Holiday Plums

I truly believe that these plums will be dancing in your head once you try them. Of course, for grown-ups only, the mingling of apple and chocolate liqueur simply livens up the natural sweetness of the plums and is a perfect accompaniment to your spiked egg nog or other Holiday cheer. Please remember that if you are using an open flame gas burner, be extra cautious so that the alcohol doesn't flame up on you.

1 cup dried, pitted plums(prunes)
2 ounces creme de cacao or other chocolate liqueur*
2 ounces Calvados, Apple Jack or other apple liqueur
4 ounces dark or milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 ounces white morsels


In a saucepan, combine plums, creme de cacao and Calvados, tossing well. Bring to scalding over medium heat and immediately remove from stove. Let cool slightly before covering to refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. You will want to turn over the plums every few hours to evenly marinate. Remove from bowl and strain well.

Line a flat pan with film wrap. Microwave chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon oil in microwave for 1 minute, or until melted. Stir oil into the melted chocolate.

Using a skewer or a metal spaghetti fork tine(I used those little corn on the cob holders), dip the plums in the melted chocolate, covering completely. Remove, let excess chocolate drip off and place on prepared pan. Repeat with all plums and place in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened. Meanwhile, melt white morsels and remainder vegetable oil. . Drizzle melted white morsels over each plum, let harden and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

* Try grape, spiced, pear, coconut or vanilla brandy or try peppermint schnapps 


SherryandKevin said...

Well its about time Chef. Been waiting for some Christmas recipes from you. (I am smiling while I write). Thank you. do you know which I am making first? The ne that sounds the least appetizing, that Whip. Only unappetizing because of using prunes, which Grampa always said makes you poop, so I never had them. I will let you know though. And I hope you and your family have a great Christmas. Bless you one and all.

Anonymous said...

Yup, you did it again Chef. Just got done with the whip and it was out of this world. Thank you so much and we do hope you have a glorious Christmas.