Well, how very rude of me. It's rather too long since anything appeared here.
I really must greet you with all good wishes for a new year which is as wonderful as you are. That wonderfulness sums up my essential feelings towards all those reading this - thank you for being here (or there)... wherever you are!
A fortnight in and you have this, my first post of 2015. I refuse to gloss over the festive celebrations which have recently passed. My constantly divine wife, two heart-stoppingly stupendous sons and one accompanying glorious girlfriend made Christmas something magical yet again (we had no need whatsoever for a single pear tree or partridge). None the worse for being a very grown-up time. One sobering element was the increasingly slow-witted responses of Dad (me!) for party games. However, when you're playing 'Cards Against Humanity' no-one really cares!
Let us move gently into January with a nod to the Great British Breakfast. We rejoice in the new beginning given to us each time our eyes open upon another morn. It has always seemed to me that we have an obvious duty to celebrate continued existence with a thoughtful and reverent time spent fuelling ourselves for the day ahead. I could extol the virtues of fried eggs, thick wholemeal toast and a continuous supply of chorizo jam. Instead, I intend offering simple advice for a perfect addition to your fridge; one which should give further confirmation that it's good to be alive. Oh, it's hellish easy to prepare, as well!
My raw ingredients are not carefully sourced. The humble supermarket plum, in all its out-of-season guises, is the basis for this. It's what you add which transforms the unassuming into the irresistible.
Start by removing the stones from the contents of a couple of plum-filled plastic punnets (plannets?). Halve or quarter them and spread over the base of a broad pan. The batch you see had the addition of three heaped tablespoons of vanilla sugar*, three star anise and an offensively generous glug of port. A small but careful afterthought saw a smackeroony of orange juice join the mix. My supply of sweet Greek red wine had run out and necessitated the journey to Portugal for the boozy element. If you are committed to 'Dry January' fear not - subsequent action will render this 99.9% alcohol-free.
Simmer the fruit and its friends for as long as you like. Short for firmness. Keep going for jamminess, puree and to gloop and beyond. I stop between firm and jammy.
Now drain the plums, remove the star anise, cinnamon/liquorice stick, cardamom pods (yes, do add whatever you like within reason - I do!) and return the juice to the pan. Boil it and reduce to a concentrated syrup. This will get rid of the alcohol and give you sticky goodness.
Allow the syrup to cool and re-unite with the plums. Then find a container exactly the same volume as your efforts (embrace OCD and accept nothing less!) Store in the fridge. Before you post any comments or reviews of this recipe, pretend that you have waited until the next morning. That's when you should treat yourself to a generous portion of sticky, sharp, sweet fruit accompanied by velvety yogurt. If you don't make your own (Note to self: MAKE YOUR OWN YOGURT!), I can only suggest the pictured Greek yogurt. There is little substitute for this strained and thick delight. It contrasts with the plums and complements them at the same time.
There's a little bit of nonsense talked about 'mouthfeel' for wines, coffees and foods but this simple combination does insist on fully exploring your palate and taste buds before being slowly and gratefully swallowed. The fact that you don't have to make much effort to produce something so life-affirming is just another bonus. If you haven't already, it would be sensible to give it a go.
And that lovely shot of espresso? One of my all-time favourites. Go immediately to Has Bean and order Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama Yellow Bourbon ... or spend some time choosing what you will. All Steve's coffee is terrific - with regular leanings towards awesome!
I've neglected you for too long. Apologies for the lack of recent activity. No proper resolutions... but I am determined to look after you better through this year.
* Other sugars are available: Light Muscovado, Demerara, Dark Brown Soft... you catch my drift, I'm sure.