Lisa Holloway’s recipe for cheesy sugar plums, an unexpected wintery treat
Breakfast is my favourite meal, and when I ran Compton House, our B&B in Newark on Trent, I loved giving our guests a great start to the day.
Coming from all over the world, I gradually learnt what my guests liked to eat in the morning.
Many of our guests preferred fish for breakfast, while others loved sweet tarts and cakes.
I always had some seasonal poached fruits on the tables, often warm spiced plums in the Winter. And always at Christmas a traditional Cake for guests to help themselves. Last but not least, a cheeseboard, with a whole blue Stilton given pride of place.
One Christmas we had a young lady called Megumi from Tokyo staying with us and she adored everything British and Christmassy.
She loved a cooked English Breakfast, after which she would devour a huge slice of cake with her tea. And she always had a small bowl of spiced plums to finish.
Then she discovered the Stilton…
Megumi had an early start, so perhaps to save time, she crumbled the Stilton on top of the hot plums.
I explained that wasn’t how we ate Stilton, but she told me she loved it – so I tried it too.
The saltiness of the Stilton, melting into the sweet spicyness of the mulled wine was a revelation!
Megumi’s happy, accidental plums became a wintery tradition at Compton House; except now I use a vegetable peeler, for wafer thin slices of Stilton which melt quicker than crumbs.
Happy New Year!
Mulled Wine is a matter of taste, how sweet or tart?
I haven’t been too strict with the amounts for the ingredients in the recipe below.
Add more sugar and orange juice as you taste while the wine warms up.
I prefer the plums in a sweeter syrup, to contrast with the Stilton.
Brandy is optional and the alcohol from both the wine and brandy is evaporated with cooking.
Ingredients for 4
- One bottle of Mulled Wine (or make your own – there are lots of recipes to choose from)
- 8 large, firm, and ripe plums (not too soft, not rock hard)
- 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
- Half a litre carton orange juice, without bits
- A can of Jamaica Ginger beer (or some Ginger wine, both give a good zing)
- One large orange
- A wedge of Blue Stilton
- Bay leaves to garnish
- Have your dishes ready and gently warmed. Peel the orange to make thin twists of peel and slice them into narrow strips.
- Slice the plums in half and remove the stones. Lay the plums in a large saucepan, cut side down.
- Cover the plums with the wine, adding a couple of tablespoons of brandy, the ginger beer and a cup of orange juice. Swirl the liquids and gently warm until the plums are only just bubbling. This is a delicate process, so don’t boil, the plums need to stay intact.
- Add the twists of orange peel. After about 5 minutes, gently turn the plums over, skin side down just for a minute.
- Take the plums out of the liquid and put to one side, then turn up the heat so the sauce reduces and thickens. Add the soft brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Lay 4 plum halves in each bowl, spoon over the sauce and adding few twists of orange peel.
- Using a cheese grater, lay a wafer thin slice of Stilton on top of the hot plums and sauce, decorate with bay leaves and serve immediately.