Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Fruitful Fall

The fall brings so many intimate moments: hot apple cider sips on greenmarket mornings, little gusts of cool wind that make us pull our new jacket closer to us, the footsteps of our favorite weathered leather boots crunching over fallen leaves, the comfort of sleeping with the window open with the covers nestled up around us.

As fall saunters in, we get to say hello to apples and figs, squash and sage and brown butter. But there's no reason to bid farewell to the end of summer's favorite fruits. As Melissa Clark reminds us today in the New York Times, just drown your plums, Concord grapes and pomegranate seeds in brandy, and then all Fall, you can stuff them in your muffins, cozy them up alongside a rack of venison, or bake them in a custardy clafoutis.

All photos and recipes via NYT

Wondering what to do with all those pomegranate seeds and all that extra gin you have lying around? Why not make...

Pomegranate Gin Preserve

Time: 5 minutes, plus at least 3 weeks to macerate.

- 2 cups pomegranate seeds (from about 3 pomegranates)

- 1/4 cup sugar

- 3-inch strip orange zest

- About 2 cups gin.

In a large jar, stir or shake together pomegranate seeds, sugar and orange zest. Pour in gin; cover seeds by about an inch. Cover jar and let sit in a dark, cool place (but not the refrigerator) for at least 3 weeks. Yield: About a pint.

Did you grab an extra few bunches of those aromatic grapes from the farm stand and don't know what to do with them? Solution:

Boozy Concord Grapes

Time: 5 minutes, plus at least one month to macerate.

- 1 quart (about 1 1/4 pounds) Concord grapes, washed, stems removed and deseeded (optional)

- 1 cup sugar

- 2 to 3 cups brandy.

1. Place grapes inside a large jar and, using a wooden spoon, break the skins. Stir in the sugar.

2. Pour brandy over the grapes to cover by an inch. Cover and store in a dark, cool place (but not the refrigerator) for at least one month. Yield: 1 quart.

We love Clark's quick list of go-to solutions for what to do with all of that excess tipsy confiture...

BOOZY FRUIT TART Line a tart pan with sweet tart dough and fill with frangipane. Top with pieces of fruit and bake until golden.

CAKE GLAZE Mix the liqueur with enough confectioners’ sugar to make it thick and creamy, but still runny enough to pour, then spoon it over simple cakes.

CLAFOUTIS Use preserved Concord grapes in place of cherries.

COBBLERS, CRISPS AND PIES Add pieces of boozy fruit to fresh fruit.

DRUNKEN FOOL Purée the fruit and gently fold into whipped cream, to taste. Chill before serving.

FRUITY APERITIF Put a piece of fruit and a little of its liqueur in the bottom of a flute and top with sparkling wine.

HAIR OF THE DOG MUFFINS Add diced fruit to your favorite muffin recipe. If you are planning to serve these for breakfast, note that much, but not all, of the alcohol will evaporate.

ROASTS Warm brandied plums or Concord grapes and serve with roasted pork, chicken, duck, quail or venison.

TIPSY TRIFLE Use pieces of fruit in a traditional custard-and-cake trifle.

UPSIDE-DOWN TIPPLE CAKE Sprinkle a well-buttered cake pan with brown sugar, then layer with slices of drained fruit. Cover with your favorite butter cake batter and bake until done. Serve with cream whipped with a little of the fruit liqueur.

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