Saturday, January 16, 2010

Roast Figs Sugar Snow Plum Vodka.

For a few days now I have been wittering away ( like twittwering only not much different) over on facebook, about plum vodka. I promised to share, so, here goes.

I have many recipe books. Some I use a lot, some I dip into. Sometimes I get bored of making the same old things and flick through a book to see what I can find. Sometimes the writing draws me in, the enthusiasm for food, the images. Roast Figs Sugar Snow by Diana Henry is a favorite for winter.
I first heard about this book while painting and listening to Woman's Hour on Radio 4.
So, flicking through the pages one day and searching for inspiration for the children's supper I found this recipe. It takes a while. Be patient.
Russian plum vodka.
You need........

 1 kg (2lbs 4oz) red or purple plums
700g ( 1ib 9oz sugar)
1.5 litres ( 2 3/4 pints) vodka.
Big shiney glass kilner glass jars.

Find some peace of mind and a sharp knife, put on some music and halve the plums, but leave the plumstones in. You can play 'he loves me, he loves me not'  in a few weeks when they have steeped in vodka. More fun then.

Put them into a container that will hold 1.7 litres (three pints) and pour the sugar over them. Now drown them in vodka. ( I use two jars now as it is difficult to get one big enough, and I confess to adding more sugar, because the first time I made this  my jar really wasn't big enough so had far too much sugar and plums and not enough vodka)

Close the lids and shake to mix the ingredients then stand the jars in a cool dark place for six weeks, but visit them now and again to shake or turn or just look at them. The plums shine like jewels in the darkening liquid as juice transfers from plum to vodka.

In six weeks time you are supposed to strain the liquid through cheesecloth and bottle it, but I just tipped it through a funnel into bottles and wondered what to do with the plums. I sniffed them, cautious as a cat, then curious as a cat I tasted one. Heaven.

Now, I am sure you are thinking, "Well, surely she didn't give Russian plum vodka to the children for tea?" and of course the answer is no. After all, even they wouldn't wait six weeks. We had roasted spare rib pork chops with pears, melting onions and Gorgonzola, roast potatoes and kale, another recipe from the same book.

Diana Henry tells of how her Polish friend, Kasia, put plum vodka into her tea in the winter. I would like to meet her.
So glad I bought this book. Lots of game recipes, small snippets of story inbetween, beautiful beautiful photographs by Jason Lowe.

Oh, and above I promised to share, share the recipe that is, not the plums.


  1. I am reading this at 5.30am and it's still dark.I want those plums!
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ain't that the truth

  3. Mmmmm, sounds fabulous, must buy the book and try it... I am a sucker for different vodkas but have never made my own [other than reusing the bison grass blade in a bottle of Smirnoff, not exactly Nigella!].

    Beautiful photographs too, love the plums and typography... oh, and I have been looking for a green polka dot tablecloth for absolutely AGES, where did you get yours?!!

  4. Ah, Veronica, the tablecloth came from one of those odd material shops. This one is in Haverfordwest and it was really cheap compared to other polka dot stuff from place like Cath Kidson, though I think hers are easy to find online. Plums are looking really good after only one day as the juice and the sugar are elting into the vodka.

  5. Thanks Jackie, I will search online. I'm guessing Haverfordwest is far, far from North East Scotland. I will look out for plum progress posts!

  6. This is a copy of a letter I sent recently to the publishers of ROAST FIGS SUGAR SNOW :

    "I was delighted to discover Diana Henry's lovely book having first heard it mentioned on Radio 4's Woman's Hour. However the first recipe that I tried was a bit of a disaster as the measurements are somewhat awry and I hope that this is not a portent for the rest of the book.

    The recipe I refer to is for the RUSSIAN PLUM VODKA on page 143.

    I purchased all the ingredients :

    1kg plums
    700gm sugar
    1.5litres vodka

    and I was delighted too to have been able to find a glass Le Parfait jar with a 2litre capacity. Notice the recipe only suggests "a container that will hold 1.7litres".

    I put in the plums as indicated, added the sugar -------- and then found that my container would not even hold half c.700gm of the vodka, never mind the 1.5litres of vodka in the recipe !!!

    On reflection how ridiculous to think that all the above ingredients could fit into the recipe's 1.7 litre container. I then had to quickly try and find a larger jar - no easy task ! and messily divide the already mixed ingredients adding the extra vodka. Grrrr !!!!

    Grrrr !!!!

    Please pass this on to Ms Henry !!!!"

    Jackie, I see above that you added more sugar to compensate for the wrong instruction ! I did a bit of research on plum vodka and, compared to other traditional recipes, I think that there may be WAY too much sugar in Ms Henry's recipe ! WAY too much ! Well, its nearly six weeks and I shall taste the results of my jars soon !