My Berlin Kitchen Giveaway + Spiced Plum Butter

My Berlin Kitchen

I first discovered The Wednesday Chef sometime in early 2006. I had become an avid reader of blogs about a year before (they were a great way to keep my mind off my terrible day job) and was always on the hunt for new sites to add to my list of bookmarks. Luisa’s voice and perspective on food resonated with me immediately. I spent a morning engrossed in her archives and once caught up, tried never to miss a new post.

My Berlin Kitchen spine

In fact, it’s fairly safe to say that I’ve read nearly everything that Luisa Weiss has ever posted to the internet (I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a stalker. I swear, I’m just a fan). And, when an advanced copy of My Berlin Kitchen arrived just before the mini-vacation that Scott and I took few weeks back, I tucked it into my travel bag and proceeded to read it in a single, giant gulp.

dog ears

As I read, I dog-eared recipes I wanted to remember. I marked the Pizza Siciliana and the Poppy Seed Whirligig Buns. I’m hoping to make the Yeasted Plum Cake before their season is entirely gone and, come Christmas, I’m definitely planning on making the Fruit Bread on page 161. It sounds dense and divine.

Pflaumenmus

As I read, there was one recipe that jumped out at me more insistently than the rest and cried out to be made immediately. The Pflaumenmus or Spiced Plum Butter on page 237 had my name written all over it (particularly since I had the necessary four pounds of Italian prune plums at home, thanks to the Washington State Fruit Commission and their Canbassador program).

Italian prune plums

Of course, I’ve made plum butters before, but never with this particular technique. Luisa has you quarter the plums, stir them together with a bit of sugar, a cinnamon stick, and a couple cloves and let them sit overnight. The next day, once they’re nice and juicy, you pop the pan into the oven and bake them them at moderate heat.

After their time in the heat, the plums are incredibly tender and fragrant. The liquid has thickened a great deal and the slumping fruit just smells incredible.

post roasting

Once pureed, she has you funnel the prepared butter into sterilized jars and use the inversion method to seal. This is the only place where I diverged from the recipe as written and I chose to run my jars through a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Because this is a relatively low sugar preserve, I wanted to ensure that all bacteria was killed and the best way to do that is with a hot water bath.

Now, just a note about the yield. The recipe says that it makes four to five jars, but doesn’t specify the sizes of those jars. I found that after pureeing, I had exactly enough butter to fill three pint jars. I imagine the jars Luisa used were a bit smaller than a standard pint and so figure my yield was just about right (I did the math and found that had I used the 1/5 L Weck jars, I’d have filled exactly five jars).

finished butter

I plan on applying this same overnight maceration and oven roasting to other fruits, because it made for such a nice finished product and filled my apartment with the most delicious smells.

Thanks to the nice folks at Viking, in addition to getting to share the plum butter recipe with you (it’s after the jump), I also have a copy of My Berlin Kitchen to give away. If you’d like a chance to win it, here’s what to do.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite food memory.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, September 21, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: Viking sent me an advanced copy of My Berlin Kitchen and are providing the copy for this giveaway. However, I’ve not been paid to host this giveaway and my opinions are entirely my own.

Spiced Plum Butter

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds Italian prune plums
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves

Instructions

  1. Pit and quarter the plums and put them in a heavy 4-quart pot. Add the sugar, the cinnamon stick, and the cloves. Stir well and let sit overnight or four 8 hours.
  2. The next day, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the pot, unlidded, into the oven and cook for 2 hours, stirring the mixture occasionally.
  3. Sterilize the glass jar and lids in boiling water.
  4. When the plums have broken down and the liquid has reduced to a thick jam, remove pot from the oven and fish out the cinnamon stick (if you can find the cloves, fish them out too).
  5. Puree the jam with an immersion blender until it resembles a fruit butter, and then fill the sterilized jars with the hot puree, screw on tops and immediately turn the jars upside down. If you prefer a jam with discernible chunks of fruit, however, don't puree the jam; simply ladle the hot jam into the sterilized jars.
  6. Let the jars cool complete before turning the right side up again and labeling them. The jam will keep for at least a year.
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(Marisa’s note: You can also process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes if you’d prefer to do it the American way.)

Recipe from My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes) by Luisa Weiss, published by Viking, 2012.

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495 Responses to My Berlin Kitchen Giveaway + Spiced Plum Butter

  1. 451
    Jessica Jones says:

    My favorite food memory is homemade pizza and decorating a Christmas Tree.

  2. 452
    Julie E. says:

    My favorite food memory is baking bread with my grandmother, a tradition
    I’ve proudly passed on.

  3. 453
    Crystal says:

    Friday-afternoon couscous with my Moroccan friends at school — great friends, great memories and the start of realizing how food connects people :)

  4. 454
    carole says:

    Too many! But anything that involves family getting together and food becomes a favorite memory….until the next gathering.

  5. 455
    Pennie says:

    Creating new favorite memories – canning tomato sauce with son and grandson each summer.

  6. 456
    Katherina Harper says:

    My favorite food memory is the Christmas cookies my mother made every year. There were several varieties and they were all delicious. The house always smelled wonderful when mom baked those cookies.

  7. 457
    Cindy says:

    My favorite food memory is Thanksgiving dinner with the family.

  8. 458
    Stacey E says:

    My favorite food memories are when something I make brings someone comfort or happiness.

  9. 459
    Maria Salvemini says:

    This is a fabulous technique. I tried it recently to make fig confiture with lemon — allowing them to macerate overnight with a sprig of Thyme — delicious!

  10. 460
    danielle says:

    Every year, I come home for Christmas a few days early and my mother and I make over a dozen varieties of Christmas cookies. We hand out big platters to everyone for the next few days and the cookies are kinds that we only make once a year. It’s a really happy thing that makes me remember a lot of past holidays.

  11. 461
    Mandy Blank says:

    My favorite food memory is making homemade strawberry jam with my mom!!

  12. 462
    Sarah R says:

    My sister just moved to Berlin to sing opera for the year, so I’ve had Berlin on the mind! I love to cook with my mom, and my favorite food memory may have happened just a few days ago, right before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. We made challah and honey cake together (both ancient recipes). Tradition + baking + family bonding.

  13. 463
    samW says:

    I remember making oatmeal raisin cookies with my grandma….with lard!

  14. 464
    Mary Anne says:

    My Mom and I always started baking Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving. This was also the day that we started playing all the Christmas albums (dating myself with that comment). The best part was eating the “mistakes”….made you wish for broken cookies.

  15. 465
    aris says:

    Crawling around under the Santa Rosa plum tree, looking for dropped ripe ones to fill my skirt with mom picking the outside. :)

  16. 466
    Tracy says:

    What a great give away! My favorite food memory is my dad making malts. He’d throw malted powder, ice-cream and milk in the blender. For a kid that didn’t get to eat much sugar it was a treat!

  17. 467
    Amanda L. says:

    Sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen, a pot of apples cooking down into applesauce, and a piece of her famous oatmeal cake.

  18. 468
    Amy P. says:

    Making pastry with my mum

  19. 469
    Clare says:

    My first trip to New Orleans was when I was about 17. My dad and I got up early, while the rest of the family slept, to watch the vendors set up the produce and fish market in the French Quarter. We had beignets and cafe au lait afterwards. It was a great morning and a wonderful memory.

  20. 470
    Caitlin V. says:

    I have always been intimidated by canning but I find myself with a variety of fruit that I would like to preserve this year. Thank you for this Blog. It has inspired me that I can can/jar my own food too! This book, My Berlin Kitchen, sounds divine! Thank you for sharing!

  21. 471
    Allison says:

    Favourite food memory… Making an entire Winter Solstice dinner that featured garden-grown butternut squash in every course. It was my winter on my own and I was very, very proud of my garden. :-D

  22. 472
    Suzann Hansen says:

    One of my fondest food memories is at age 8 baking meringue cookies for my older brother and him telling me these were his new favorite.

  23. 473

    [...] and flavorful dinners this week. Both were really great! Plum recipes abound at this time of year. This butter and this jam sound equally scrumptious. I broke my mixer last week. At least I got a delicious [...]

  24. 474
    Jan Allison says:

    My greatest memory is playing on my Grandmothers screened in back porch to the high ceiling farm house and the kitchen was just inside the porch. I would watch her hook the meat grinder to her kitchen table and grind all day on Green tomatoes, cabbage, green peppers,onions and then make a huge cheese cloth full of all of these different strong smelling things and tied them together( now I know it was the spices). Then all would go on the stove. I hated that smell each year. Boy, did that stink when I was a little girl. I couldn’t wait until that day ended. BUT, when we had good ole southern pinto beans, fried potatoes, turnip greens and corn bread, she would pull out a canned jar of this stinky stuff(while cooking) but it tasted heavenly with this meal especially. I finally ask my Grandmother what it was, she said it was CHOW CHOW. When I was married I got interested in gardening again and every fall I make my Grandmother’s Chow Chow. My Grandchildren now ask, what that stinky stuff is on the stove. SO, I have had them help me can. I do have one Granddaughter that is 6, that loves to garden with me and I know that she will carry on the tradition of make good ole’ Chow Chow!

  25. 475
    Ellen says:

    This looks great. I have to give it a try! Thank you for sharing.

  26. 476
    Morgan Zoucha says:

    My favorite food memory happened with one of my best friends. We were really craving tamales for some reason. We decide to get together and do a big batch to share with everyone. We made chile sauce, roasted pork, mixed masa, soaked our husks and were half way through our tamale makeline when a couple good friends came over with beers. They commented on how perfect it was we were making tamales for Cinco De Mayo. We had no idea! It just happened, and when they were done, oh my! So good!

  27. 477
    Marcy says:

    I grew up in a poor household, but never knew it. My mom had the most inventive ways of stretching her food dollars. At the end of the month, we always had ‘Mater Gravy and we thought it was such a treat. Made with a roux of bacon grease and flour, a can of stewed tomatoes, and lots of black pepper, Mom poured the thick gravy over the end pieces of white loaf bread that she had saved in the freezer during the month. My brother and I really looked forward to the last Saturday of every month.

  28. 478
    Leslie says:

    Would love a copy of My Berlin Kitchen!!

  29. 479
    Melissa Wise says:

    My favorite food memory is of canning, believe it or not. My parents kept a moderately sized victory garden when I was growing up. They grew all sorts of cukes for pickles – sweet and dill – and a wide variety of tomatoes for sauce. In addition to that, we’d go black berry picking to make jam. At the end of each growing season, I remember how wonderfully excited I was as we lined our pantry with pickles, sauces and jams. And how my mother would bake bread in the cold Pennsylvania winters for jam sandwiches or to eat with stew. But I remember most of all, and probably the fondest memory was as the jars began to dwindle, you knew spring was just around the corner and that always filled me with such excitement because I knew it’d soon be time to start all over again growing, picking, pickling and canning.

    I’d just about all but forgotten those days until recently when I came across your blog – so thank you for helping me remember and, now that I’m a mother myself, share this incredible (and so tasty!) past-time with my own children!

  30. 480
    Holly Papa says:

    My husband and I had the most romantic dinner out in New Orleans last year at a great Italian restaurant. We had the best chicken rosemarino and chocolate truffle ever! Thanks for your great recipes and for the chance to win!

  31. 481
    Carla says:

    Making pomegranate jelly with my mom!

  32. 482
    Carol says:

    So many, my mother’s cookies at Christmas, smoked fish on an island in northern Russia, great meals with my husband (who I met when we both worked at a restaurant)…

  33. 483
    Patty says:

    One of my favorite food memories is canning pickled beets with my grandmother. I still use her same dog-earred recipe card 30 years later.

  34. 484
    Nancy S. says:

    My Mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls – I loved it when I came home from school to find freshly baked cinnamon rolls.

  35. 485
    Wehaf says:

    I love eating pumpkin pie in the fall…

  36. 486
    Ann says:

    My favorite food memory is making bird’s nest Easter breads with my Mom. It’s a yearly event, has been for deades, and I ache the years I’m away.

  37. 487
    Kat D says:

    Grilled Cheese. My grandma was an amazing cook and had fantastic pastry skills that even on my best days I can’t manage to come close to. But every time we visited, the only thing we wanted was grilled cheese – she used wonder bread, a thick layer of butter, plenty of american cheese. She filled that platter full and let us eat our fill. My mom was always looking for ways healthy-up our food – crumbly wheat bread, a ceremonial wave of the margarine, and a measly slice of fat-free cheddar just didn’t measure up.

  38. 488
    Shelle says:

    Favorite food memory? – I have so many – but perhaps one of my favorites is when I was young teenager, being part of a very large family thanksgiving baking extravanganza, one that crossed at least three generations of wonderful women (and the occasional male family member, though we suspected they snacked more than they contributed!) standing around the large marble island in my great-aunt’s large kitchen, making homemade bread, sweet potatoes, french green beans, cranberry sauce, turkey, gravy, and pie, etc., while sharing old family stories about parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents. Amazing homemade food combined with priceless family memories- I honestly feel there are few things better in life.

  39. 489
    Denise Nash says:

    Oh, I remember the first really nice restaurant I ever went to. I was still a teenager, and went with a family I babysat for into Canada one summer. Shocked at the prices at “The Hobbit House”(?), I was encouraged to order “anything I want”. I ordered a baby salmon. I have no idea how it was prepared or what accompanied it, but what an amazing thing, an entire tasty fish. Low lights, lovely atmosphere and someone else paying the bill!

  40. 490
    Courtney says:

    My favorite food memory would have to be Thursday night dinners I used to throw for friends when we were in college…we’d eat, watch Seinfeld, and just have a good time. I think it was experimenting with cooking in those days that made me feel secure in the kitchen.

  41. 491

    [...] for all your entries to the My Berlin Kitchen giveaway! The winner is commenter #490. She said, “My favorite food memory would have to be Thursday [...]

  42. 492

    [...] Spiced Plum Butter [...]

  43. 493

    […] Right around this time last year, My Berlin Kitchen, Luisa Weiss’s beautiful memoir, was published. I got a copy when it first came out and read the whole thing in less than a day. As soon as I had a few moments, I used her recipe for spiced plum butter and made some of the most luscious, silky plum preserves. […]

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    […] Right around this time last year, My Berlin Kitchen, Luisa Weiss’s beautiful memoir, was published. I got a copy when it first came out and read the whole thing in less than a day. As soon as I had a few moments, I used her recipe for spiced plum butter and made some of the most luscious, silky plum preserves. […]