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 KitchenΒ 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.
http://foodinjars.com/2012/09/my-berlin-kitchen-giveaway-spiced-plum-butter/

(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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500 Responses to My Berlin Kitchen Giveaway + Spiced Plum Butter

  1. 401
    Heather spaniel says:

    My fave food memory is of my grandfather making me scalloped potatoes every family get together. I am such a fan of potatoes & always have been

  2. 402
    Helene Marie says:

    I have so many special memories about people and food in my life that I cannot share them all, although each brings a smile to my spirit. My earliest remembrance is growing up on a small, ten-acre farm in New Jersey. My brothers and I worked hard along side our parents and we all enjoyed incredibly delicious, healthful food. The homegrown vegetables and fruits, so fresh all summer and fall, were carefully preserved in jars or frozen by my mother and me for the rest of the year. We had homegrown milk and meat, chickens and eggs from the animals Dad raised in a small gabled red barn and several out-buildings. My father had come home from WWII, where he witnessed the starvation in Europe, and promised himself that his family would always have food. We did!! There was such a bounty that we could share with family and friends, besides filling two freezers and the shelves of the ‘cold room’ in the basement with canned foods. It is good to remember and make foods similar to those my mother, and my German or Austrian grandmothers, prepared with loving hands.
    This year my husband and I joined Blooming Glen Farm, a CSA, in a town not far from our home because we can no longer garden. Belonging there has changed our lives! Once again we have wonderful, organically grown vegetables to savor and keep us healthy. There have been new foods to try, along with suggestions and recipes for cooking them, on the farm’s detailed and caring website. (It also includes links to other excellent sites and blogs, like this one!) Life is good!!

  3. 403
    Trish says:

    My favorite food memory is of going apple picking with my mother in Ontario, Canada. We would go every fall, riding out to the orchard on a hay wagon, returning with full buckets to sip hot cider and eat huge pieces of apple pie. I can still smell the cooked apples and cinnamon…

  4. 404
    Kathy Coblentz says:

    One of my favorite memories is of my grandma and me snapping beans for her to can at the picnic table in her back yard. She loved her garden, canning, cooking, baking and ME:-) I miss her the most in the fall of the year.

  5. 405
    Jenny says:

    My mom wasn’t much of a cook, and every time she made dinner she would say how she messed it up or it wasn’t any good before we even got a taste! It usually wasn’t that bad. So, I initially learned everything from cookbooks when I got interested in cooking.

  6. 406
    Chrissy says:

    All of my favorite memories and traditions with my family revolve around food. And now I am passing them to my children. Apple butter in the fall, fresh veggies from the garden in the summer, and pickles ,jams ,and sauces put away for winter. What a rich and awesome legacy to have. I think I will call my grand mother now and thank her.

  7. 407
    bridgit says:

    Since we’re on the topic of German speaking locations… When I was an exchange student in Austria, my host family took me down a long and winding road to Grandma’s cottage. There grew cherries and wild strawberries and I don’t really recall what else. But I do remember going back to our much smaller, city home, into our large-for-Europe-but-we-all-know-what-that-means kitchen and whipping up a cake, pouring it into a jelly roll pan and scattering the whole cherries across the top. When it (finally) came out of the oven and cooled, we stood in the galley kitchen and ate it, slice after slice, until there was almost none left. It was then that I learned how truly the kitchen is the heart of the home, but perhaps more importantly, that pitting cherries before putting them in a cake is absurdly unnecessary. Your guests will not mind spitting them out. I assure you!

  8. 408
    Rachel G says:

    My favorite food memory is making Polish Christmas cookies with my mother every December. We still do it every year. I wish I could can and preserve those moments!

  9. 409
    Odie says:

    My favorite food memory is of sitting on the front porch eating a slice of fresh bread, still warm from the oven, slathered in peanut butter. Yum!

  10. 410
    Peggy says:

    I really want to win this one! My Hubby spent 4 years in Germany over 20 years ago and still talks about going back with real longing in his voice! It’s also funny that you’re showing plum butter. I made 2 different versions of a plum skillet jam this year. One with purple plums…the color was outrageously gorgeous when done; and one with yellow plums…great taste but not nearly as dramatic. Thanks for a great giveaway!

  11. 411
    cindy says:

    This recipe reminds me of the wonderful plum tarts and cakes that we enjoyed during the years we lived in Europe. I am now going to jump onto craigslist to find a local source for Italian plums and hopefully surprise my family with this recipe. It will take all of us back a few years to our wonderful time in Switzerland!

  12. 412
    Mama Urchin says:

    I think I might love this book!

  13. 413
    maggiewann says:

    Many delicious meals come to mind, but if I could go back in time, it would be any dinner my mother served sitting around the table with my parents and brothers.

  14. 414
    Neena says:

    My favorite food memories revolve around high holidays and a heaping table at my grandparents’ home.

  15. 415
    Susan K. says:

    My favorite memory is of my grandmother and now my mother, every Sunday making a big pot of sauce and meatballs simmering on the stove for hours! They always fried the meatballs and we use the eat the freshly cooked meatballs on a fork, as a kid it was always a treat.

  16. 416
    Amy Humes says:

    So many wonderful food stories to tell! But since we’re in Europe with this book give away, I’ll share a short memory from Paris.
    My husband and I were engaged in Paris… what a beautiful and care free time that was! I remember walking with him for days on end through neighborhoods, over bridges, over to a cathedral or a museum. We ate at many of the chic restaurants, but my most dear food memory of that trip is buying a crepe filled with creamy nutella, folded into a triangle and wrapped in a crinkly paper that kept my hands warm on that chilly Autumn day…. I examined my new ring with each bite and felt safe for the first time in a long time…. and we planned our lives together. Wishing I had a crepe like that right now!

  17. 417
    Sarah R. says:

    When we’d visit my grandparents in their A-frame home deep in the woods of Wisconsin, I’d wake up early before the rest of my family and tiptoe downstairs to find my grandfather in the kitchen. I’d help him bake biscuits and we would share that quiet time before the rest of the household was awake and bustling. To this day, biscuits are one of my favorite things to bake as they remind me of those quiet mornings with him!

  18. 418
    Amanda says:

    One of my favorite food memories (I have so many), is my wedding dinner. We had a chef come in and wow us with an intimate Italian feast. There were 25 overly-stuffed and tipsy guests!

  19. 419
    Allison says:

    Making dumplings, egg rolls, or che xoi nuoc (a Vietnamese dessert: http://www.theravenouscouple.com/2010/05/che-xoi-nuoc-mochi-dumpling-ginger-sauce.html) with my grandmother! She had the patience to make enough for the whole family, which is a lot of people to feed!

  20. 420
    Amy says:

    One of my first significant food memories took place in my grandmothers kitchen in Long Island NY. I come from a Irish-Italian background. Both of my parents have lineage that came from Ireland and Italy straight off the boat to NY. This particular memory made me realize for the first time just how Italian my family was. My grandmother and aunts were making homemade pasta at the kitchen table and hanging them on wooden racks to dry. Well as a very curious young child surrounded by devious cousins, I decide to steal a long flat noodle from the drying rack and give it a taste. To my surprise I was not yelled at but simply laughed at as my grandmother and aunt remembered doing the same thing when they were kids watching their grandmother make pasta. As I’ve grown up I think I appreciate more and more these traditions that have shaped family and cultures alike.

  21. 421
    Boston Karen says:

    Throughout my childhood, our southern grandparents would drive north all the way from Mississippi and help us harvest Concord grapes from our backyard arbor here in Massachusetts. Then Gran’pa would spend a whole day magically cooking down the fruit into a delicious grape jelly. Once canned, these shiny purple jars would line our basement shelves and keep my sisters and I stocked for another year’s worth of jammy breakfast toasts and bagged-lunch PB&Js.

  22. 422
    edenZ says:

    My favorite food memory – there are so many! Probably making chocolate candies every Easter with my grandmother, mother, aunts and cousins.

  23. 423
    Emily380 says:

    My favorite food memory is walking in the door from school just as my mother was pulling loaves of homemade white (GASP!) bread out of the oven. Sometimes, we were allowed to tear into a loaf while it was still so hot it could burn your fingers and butter melted too quickly to soak into the bread. There is nothing else like it.

  24. 424

    Thank you for really teaching me how to can. I finally took the plunge this year and I am addicted. There are several fond food memories but I think the one that clearly stands out is our annual Christmas meals with my family. Spicy Goan meat dishes and pilafs followed by delicious rum soaked fruit cakes. Yup, I love rum soaked fruit cakes.

  25. 425
    Stephanie says:

    Hot summer days in Los Angeles, sitting under the big cool leaves of the fig tree tucked in a corner of the yard, way way in the back (kinda like the the way-back of a station wagon…). Picking just-right-ripe purple figs to peel and eat. A burst of flavor – a crunch of seeds. A party in my mouth!
    A childhood memory of summers spent with cousins and a never ending search for that perfect fig or how to preseve that taste all year round.

  26. 426
    KellyM says:

    My favorite food memory, to be honest, is my late grandmother taking me to the local bakery to buy me Cookie Monster cupcakes everytime I went to her house. It was always “our little secret” because my brothers didn’t share in the cupcakes, it was just for Nana and me. To this day, when I see Cookie Monster cupcakes (which are literally cupcakes with icing shaped into the Sesame Street character Cookie Monster, with the chocolate chip cookie shoved in his “mouth”) I have to buy one and immediately eat one. I doubt they’re the best cupcakes on Earth, but they taste even more sweet because I remember my Nana with each bite πŸ™‚

  27. 427
    Sarma says:

    My favorite memory is of my grandfather making me french pancakes, he never cooked, however, when we came to visit or stay with our grandparents, he always made us french pancakes (just like crepes), he loved making them for my brother and me. Of course we had sour cream with sugar or homemade jam that my grandmother had made. I remember my wonderful grandfather everytime I make pancakes for our grandkids.

  28. 428
    Olivia S says:

    My favorite memory is making cookies with my grandmother as a child. Her home is museum-quality clean, but when baking cookies, we would have flour everywhere–hair, faces, every kitchen surface. She never batted an eye about the mess.

  29. 429
    Liz says:

    Just found your blog a few weeks ago and made tomato jam – yum. My favorite food memory is making bread with my grandfather as a little girl (he passed away when I was 4). After my grandmother died, I found a vintage “how to make bread with yeast” poster among their things. I framed it and it hangs in my kitchen now, reminding me how precious the gift of “real” food is.

  30. 430
    margo says:

    huh. I thought that was called “open kettle canning” and strictly forbidden by canning authorities. I do it for select items, but I never heard it called “inversion.” Interesting.

    A favorite food memory: helping in the family garden and getting filthy, then Dad would take us to get soft ice cream. My favorite flavor was raspberry.

  31. 431
    Leslie says:

    My mother making me pastina shaped pasta with butter and salt whenever I was sick. I miss it and I can’t find the same shapes anymore as it was made by the Prince pasta company.

  32. 432
    jodi says:

    In thinking about what might be my favorite food memory, I think I also discovered the roots of my love of gardening. Some of my earliest memories are of playing with my friend, Sonya. Her parents were sort of back-to-the-land people, and in addition to the raspberry patch and amazing plum tree in their yard, they owned an empty lot next door which was a GIANT veggie garden! I remember full days spent eating our way around the property, from berries to peas right out of the pod, to freshly pulled carrots. It’s no wonder one of my biggest goals in life is to grow & preserve as much of my own food as possible!

  33. 433
    Angela says:

    Good food memories for are related with the Holidays at my mom in law’s house. I love the food she makes. She is 81 years of age and still insists in cooking for all of us and we are a big family.

  34. 434
    Kelli says:

    Standing in my parents sweet corn patch on their farm, eating fresh sweet corn raw off the cob.

  35. 435
    Kirsten says:

    They lady down the street would feed us homemade sopapillas and honey when I was 4.
    Soooo good in my memory!

  36. 436
    Kelsey says:

    My favorite food memory is spending the weekend at my grandparents house as a little kid. My grandma would wake up early every Saturday morning and make all different types of bread. I would always help knead the dough and add the raisins and cinnamon sugar to the cinnamon raisin bread. The smell was so divine.

  37. 437
    Emily M says:

    Every year, when the first batch of new potatoes from the garden was ready, my dad would cut up a batch of them and fry them in butter with fresh dill. That was the whole dinner, and it was all we needed to satisfy.

  38. 438
    PamelaD says:

    Most of my wonderful food memories come from my mother. She always said she wasn’t much of a cook (I disagree heartily) but she was an adventurous eater. We traveled almost every other year to visit relatives and on the way we ate out a lot. We were always encouraged to try new things. There isn’t much in the way of food that I don’t like because of her. She passed on her adventurous eating. Things my mom made that were incredible were her meatloaf (I have yet to be able to duplicate it), her amazing pork roasts with vegetables, and her famous orange potato salad. Thank goodness I’ve been able to duplicate the potato salad. πŸ™‚

  39. 439
    Elysia says:

    I have a few favorite food memories but the one that I go to first and brings a smile to my face was a birthday when I was a child, about 10 years old. I had chicken pox and so no party or friends over for me …. And I was VERY itchy πŸ™ So my parents made me a very special Donut Cake!!! Yup! I believe I had the very first Donut Birthday Cake ever ;D They stacked an assortment of colorful donuts and put candles in them. It is my most favorite birthday cake of all time. I wish I had a picture of it, I would post that too πŸ™‚

    Ok! I’m off to make Plum Butter! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your blog, I have fallen in love with canning thanks to you and having tons of fun with my husband exploring your recipes and planning what we will be canning next.

    Elysia πŸ™‚

  40. 440
    Bethel says:

    You want me to narrow it down to just one food memory? Ok, here goes. My favorite food memory would have to be cooking and baking with my Gram. The smells that came out of that kitchen were unparalleled. The first time she taught me how to make ‘peaches’ – the Italian cookie that looks just like a peach! – I tried so hard, but they looked nothing liked hers… I was so sad, but she was so proud of me for working along side her. I miss my Gram so much, but every time I go to work in the kitchen, I know she’s right there beside me.

  41. 441
    Cissa says:

    My favorite food memory is the first time i tasted hot peppers (in Chinese food). Glorious! I grew up in the Midwest, and we are kinda famous for bland… but i really took to the chili heat.

  42. 442
    Amy says:

    Hello. I just found Food in Jars and love your blog. I just started canning about a year ago and can’t stop. Each season opens new ideas and fun. My favorite food memory is learning to cook with my German grandma. Hand mixing the dumplings just right (without a written recipe). Rolling them with love, boiling till they look done. Then letting them cook in sauerkraut. Pork, gravy and goodness.

  43. 443
    Carol Hodges says:

    My most precious food memories all relate to my Grandmother’s food. She seldom followed a recipe and turned out the most fabulous food. She made tea cakes, black walnut cake, blackberry jam (home-made jam) cake, chocolate pie, and a host of other wonderful things, savory and sweet. I have a few of her handwritten recipes and they are most precious to me.

  44. 444
    Dawn says:

    The spiced plum butter sounds awesome. I love recipe books with stories.

  45. 445
    Tami says:

    My favorite food memory was the first time that I made a complete Thanksgiving dinner for my family. I was 26 years old and never made such a large meal on my own. I used recipes out of Bon Appetit November 1988, and everything came out great.

  46. 446
    Oraxia says:

    Favorite food memory is probably of tasting some high quality chocolate tasting discs at a charity party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where I first encountered a chocolate with that characteristic fruity flavor of some chocolates. (Sadly, I don’t remember the name of the brand that was showcasing.) I hadn’t before realized that chocolate could have such a flavor, and it eventually led me to seek out better chocolate πŸ™‚ Current favorite is the ‘fruity’ dark chocolate from TCHO πŸ˜€

  47. 447
    Jessica K says:

    My favourite food memory is baking apple pies with my German grandmother.

  48. 448
    Courtney says:

    One of my favorite food memories is my great Aunt Mamie’s date filled cookies! I have e tried to replicate them with her recipe but they fall short every time. I am convinced she possessed baking magic!

  49. 449
    Tamara says:

    My favorite food memories are different than they used to be, now that I have kids of my own. I am currently very fond of the morning I sat down to enjoy a hot a cup of coffee with a warm and flaky almond croissant that a friend had bought me as a treat. My 3-year old little girl came in the room to find me and requested to try a bite. She nestled right in next to me on the couch and devoured half the croissant, proclaiming it to be ‘the goodest croissant she ever had’. … it was her first πŸ™‚

  50. 450
    Amy J says:

    As a young child I didn’t cook much with my grandma, but I do remember the smells of certain spices, baked dishes, etc…that came from her kitchen. I LOVE to cook now and whenever I smell one of those familiar smells, it’s brings me back to childhood.