Lets face it, the seasons just aren't the seasons any more. After the wettest August for some years, September has continued in a similar vain. As I look out of my window at another overcast sky, it is easy to get down about the whole thing. But after the week from hell that I had last week, it is time to take positives from everything. Yes, even another grey day.
Autumn in just about upon us, and as a food obsessive, that is about as positive as it gets when it comes to great produce. I'm already saving every jar available ready for an evening or two of preserving. My demijohns are washed and sterilised in preparation for a litre or five of homemade sloe gin and sticky plum vodka. I've even put a goose on order and invited guests for Christmas Day.
A walk around a decent bit of countryside at this time of the year should indicate free food of all forms amongst the hedgerows and trees. One of my favourite is the wild plum, and in my area I've found a lovely patch of damsons. Small and oval shaped, deep purple with a powdery sheen to their skin, it is a truly great find. Slightly sweeter than a commercial plum, they can be plucked and devoured on the spot. And that can be a problem when your helper is a certain 3 year old plum lover.
I like to soften a few damsons in honey and vanilla which can then be used as a very loose jam for your toast, a great topping for yoghurt and muesli or just as it is with a little double cream for a simple dessert. If you are feeling adventurous, they also make for a nice topping on my quick and easy cheesecakes. So keep your eyes peeled and a plastic bag handy ready for them damson moments. I'm feeling positive already.
Quick Damson Cheesecakes
8 ginger biscuits
200g damson or plums
200g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
A squeeze of lemon juice
300ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
1 – Line 4 individual ramekins with clingfilm.
2 – Grind the ginger biscuits down in a food processor. Melt the butter in a pan, add the biscuits and combine. Press the biscuit mixture into the ramekin dishes and place into the fridge.
3 – Half, stone then quarter the damsons or plums. Place into a pan with the honey and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until soft then remove from the heat and cool.
4 – Beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl. Whip the cream to soft peaks in another bowl, scrape in the vanilla seeds then fold into the cream cheese mixture.
5 – Press the mixture into the ramekins, smooth off then place back into the fridge for an hour or so.
6 – Remove from the ramekins and clingfilm, place onto serving plates and top with the softened damsons.