Monday, 12 October 2009

Fall over. A quick cinnamon plum compote

It is surprising to me how quickly I have adapted to Florence. It seems forever ago that I arrived, and feels longer then one month and a week. I eat out more then I have in Parma all year combined, and whilst it may seem that gelato is a key ingredient in my daily diet I am a regular at st. Ambrogio market several times a week for the latest fall collection of fruit & veg. In true Tuscan style.
I have picked out my favorite guys; the mushroom guy that gets angry when my camera is too close to his precious molds, my favorite herbs guy that doesn’t know how to price one stalk of sage, so he gives me a regalo, my favorite fresh beans guy, who, I don’t know why he’s in my list, I’m sure he’s somehow cheating me.
There’s the cheese guy that always gives me tastings of his best cheeses and doesn’t stop until I buy something. (What can I say, sheeps’ milk ricotta is my achiles heel).
Chestnuts and chestnut cake have begun to appear in the market, besides the eggplants, zucchinis, and fresh beans. Apples and plums are making some room for early clemantines.
Gelato may be the destination, but I have paved a road of Tuscan Caponata, a technicolour assembly of sautéed zucchinis, carrots and peppers, zucchini flowers stuffed with freshly picked mushrooms, fresh cannelloni beans cooked with sage, garlic and tomatoes, fresh ricotta with cinnamon plum compote. Terribly Tuscan.
I am addicted to the plums. Rather, to cooking them. i find that substantial part of their personality is hidden and only comes to light when plums meet cinnamon and heat, be it stove top or oven baked. Their crunchy tartness shies away, and a warm, silky sweetness arises. And you’d never think it by looking at them.
Like quince. Entirely different family of fruit. Same surprise nonetheless.

Quick cinnamon plum compote

a practically non-recipe


ripe plums


Sweetener- honey, maple syrup, sugar, whatever is available

Optional: Vanilla pod, a dash of vermouth.

Cutting the plums into sizeable chunks.

Place in a pan with just a bit of water (gets the steaming going).

Add as much sweetness as you like, but not too much, you want to balance the tartness, but not to lose it.

Add cinnamon. I use plenty, but I swear by the stuff.

Cover and cook on a medium low heat for about 30 minutes.

A holiday season aroma fills the air shortly.

A spoonful on top of fresh sheep’s milk ricotta or a sliced apple, topped with a sprinkle of musli and crushed pistachios makes a stupid dessert and a dollop on my breakfast cereal gets me out of bed in the morning.

And I will always remember Florence for it.

* To know whats in season and at its best visit eat the seasons.

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