Secret Santa and Stinky Baked Camembert

You know that Christmas really is upon you when you decide to Get Organised.  I put that in capital letters to help motivate me.  And then when you decide to Get Organised, Things Go Horribly Wrong. I think you get the idea.

With my parents arriving shortly I sorted out our spare room for them this morning with my best linen, plenty of coat hangers and a few little tasteful decorations.  The bedspread is a gorgeous mulberry colour and I have some lovely purple Christmas lights that I wanted to drape around. Do you think I could find them? Like heck I could.

Then I decided to remove all my nice table linen from the chest in the spare bedroom so that I don´t have to go disturbing my parents.  What did I find? Well, the linen was where it was meant to be but I also found the remains of an enormous red wine stain on my lovely tablecloth.  It´s not even in the middle where it could have been hidden by plates or candles…damn, that´s now doing its third round in the washing machine.

Finally, the dishwasher made a very rude noise and appeared to have given up on me mid cycle.  I foolishly opened the door to give it a good talking to, and out flooded a sea of dirty and very hot water.  One of those days, you see.

But all was not bad.  In the midst of all this mayhem, sorry…Festive Fun… Big Man came in bearing a beautiful poinsettia for me and a parcel from Secret Santa. I also saw that Nia awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award, so a huge thank you to the lovely Nia.  For my responses to this in a previous post, check this out.

Tandy over at Lavender and Lime kindly organised this fun exchange of gifts, so thanks so much Tandy! My Secret Santa (you can´t hide your details from the Spanish Postal system!) is a lovely Blue Jellybean from Madrid – thanks Jellybean, I´m so pleased with my gifts!  Look at my gorgeous book of Tapas recipes – there are some old favourites in there plus a load of new and inspiring ideas for me to try out next year.  I´ve only managed to get a quick flick through it as I had to wrestle it off Big Man who was deciding what “we” (for “we”, read “me”) should try first.  I also received some gorgeous decorations…which are very special as I ask Christmas visitors to buy me a new decoration for us to keep and remember them by.  So perfect…my first gifts and I am a very, very lucky Chica indeed.

Of course, while things were exploding and flooding all around me, I did have time to make a little bite to eat.  Inspired by some Baked Brie recipes From the Bartolini Kitchens and Rufus´Food and Spirits Guide, I decided to do a simplified version with a Camembert which was so ripe it was about to take a walk all on its own!  I unwrapped the very stinky camembert from its box and separated the plastic paper from the waxed paper which I wrapped around the cheese again.  I put it back into the base of the box and baked for about 20mins in a hot oven.

We ate it with bread sticks, and I put a few spoons of my plum compote in the top of the cheese.  The strong taste of the cheese worked well with the cinnamon and vanilla notes in the plum and we quietly sipped a glass of vino Rosado whilst the dishwasher groaned and breathed its last breath.  Guess what Santa might be buying tomorrow?!

Plums for My Porridge – Perfect Plum, Cinnamon and Vanilla Compôte

Do you remember my beautiful plum tree I showed you back in the spring? No matter if you don´t.  I knew back then from the enormous amount of blossom it had, following the rainiest winter for over 80 years in Andalucía, that we would have lots and lots of plums.

Of course, we did and we´ve been eating and enjoying them, giving a lot away, and the chickens have thoroughly enjoyed pecking away at those that fell to the ground.

A couple of weeka ago the plums really were coming to an end.  The last few clinging on to the tree were looking a little sad and soft, so I decided to turn them into a kind of compôte (rather like a jam) to drizzle over my porridge, or oatmeal, in the winter months.  It´s also delicious with ice cream!

You can either peel and stone the plums first, or do as I did – boil and squish!  I put them in a large pot and on a gentle heat for about 30 minutes, by which time the skins had popped and the plums were soft.

On with the kitchen gloves and I removed all the stones and skin, then passed the fruit through my trusty mouli.  You could also use a stick or regular blender. The prepared fruit weighed 2.3 kgs, so I added just under half the weight of sugar (1kg) and the juice of one lemon.  As this started to warm and the sugar dissolved, I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence and 2 sticks of cinnamon.

I let it boil quite hard for 5 minutes, removed the cinnamon sticks then poured it into sterilised jars.  Now I´m ready for the cold weather and already anticipating my first bowl of porridge with Perfect Plum Compôte!

And now, a confession.  I made this last year too (minus the vanilla) and earlier this year I was making ragú for my pasta and fumbling around in my despensa (that´s a little Spanish larder) when I grabbed a jar of this instead of tomato conserva.  Can you believe I didn´t notice the difference? We even ate the pasta, initially saying things along the lines of “gosh, you can really taste the sweetness of the tomatoes coming through”.  Eventually we decided that the taste was overly sweet (even the minced meat, garlic and red wine couldn´t compete) and the realization of what I had done dawned on me.  Not a recipe I´ll be repeating….still can´t believe that we ATE it!!!