We can never have enough dessert, can we? I comfort myself with that thought today as I push aside a blog post I planned to finish, in place of this lovely fresh dessert. You see, yesterday our freezer went on strike, or just plain quit, or read the horoscope and discovered that Mercury is in retrograde which is usually accompanied by massive appliance malfunctions, and decided to hop on the bandwagon. Whatever the cause, we woke this morning to a freezer filled with completely thawed food. So, instead of the shiny bright post I planned to write today, I spent the morning cooking meat – lots of defrosted meat – in a simple ragoût that I will use at a later point for pasta sauce and stews. That’s provided we can get the freezer working again so I can freeze it. Otherwise, we will be enjoying some pretty hefty dinners in the next few nights. Which makes this dessert even more welcome in its simplicity and lightness.
In my last post, I featured apricots it their glorious simplicity, lightly adorned with a sprinkle of sugar. In this post, I do something equally simple with plums. For the past month it’s been raining plums in our garden: Little mirabelles are everywhere, dangling from trees, cascading down our hill, and always underfoot, enjoyed by all of the inhabitants of this garden oasis in which we live. We’ve popped them in our mouths until our stomachs ache. We’ve bestowed brimming baskets as gifts, and we’ve graciously deferred the unreachable gems to our resident squirrels. In the kitchen I’ve made crostatas, tarts and crisps, and when I finally tired of so much plum-ness I scooped as many as I could fit into a stock pot and cooked them down into a compote. Twice. The second batch of compote was inspired by the fragrant rosemary bushes in our garden, which happen to lie beneath many of the plum trees. As I gathered my fruit, the aroma of rosemary wafted through the air, nudging me to pick it too. And, as growing things do, these two ingredients make a fine pair not just in the garden but also in the kitchen, which I discovered when I tossed a handful of rosemary sprigs in the last batch of bubbling compote.
Plum Compote with Rosemary
This recipe may easily be adjusted in quantity and sweetness. Depending on the flavor and tartness of the plums, more sugar may be needed. Add additional sugar a few spoonfuls at a time, tasting frequently until you find the right balance. If desired, use less sugar for a savory accompaniment to grilled meats.
1 pound plums, pitted, halved if small, quartered if large
1/2 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large rosemary sprig
Combine plums, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until plums begin to break down and sugar dissolves. Add rosemary sprigs. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until plums are soft and the compote is thick, stirring occasionally. (Be sure that the rosemary sprig is submerged in the liquid at all times). Remove from heat and cool completely. Discard rosemary. (Compote may be made up to 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use). Serve cold or at room temperature. To serve, ladle into small bowls or cups. Spoon a dollop of lightly sweetened crème fraîche, Greek yogurt or whipped cream in the center of the compote. Garnish with a pinch of brown sugar and a few rosemary leaves.