Brioche is a French bread, enriched with butter and eggs. It's sweetness often complements foie gras, and having had a tin of pâté in the fridge for god knows how long, this little starter came to mind. I adapted this recipe, replacing the milk with soy milk. Though the dough was very wet, I added a little more flour, let The Beast do it's thing, and it turned soft and elasticky, pulling away nicely from the bowl . It was sweet and delicious; toasted, smeared with foie gras pâté and dabbed with a little of the plum chutney below, it was a decadent and moreish nibble. In fact, later I couldn't stop slicing more off and slathering it with jam to munch on.
It really was a day of firsts, and I decided to give myself a bit more work to do. That foie gras pâté needed some chutney, after all. A punnet of plums called out to me, and this recipe was born. Recipes on the net suggest adding some diced shallots, but I was all out and I wasn't about to head to the shops. I don't think the chutney suffered from it; it was sweet, spicy with a tangy background and it cut through the richness of the foie gras. It also turned a brilliantly lurid colour.
Plum & Star Anise Chutney
Makes about 2 jam jars
1 star anise
70ml white wine or cider vinegar
100gr brown or demerara sugar
1 1" slice of ginger
4 tbsp water
A little cooking oil
Sterilise the jam jars and lids by covering them and their lids in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the water (carefully!) and leave to dry.
Wash the plums and slice around in half, twisting the halves off and removing the stone. Chop into roughly equal sized chunks. In a pan, add a dribble of oil and fry the ginger gently on both sides. Add the plums and the sugar and fry on a low heat, covering all the plums in the sugar. Throw in the water and the vinegar, as well as the star anise and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. When it's done, remove the star anise and ginger, spoon into the jars while hot and put the lid on. If you want a stronger star anise flavour leave the pod in the chutney. Leave to cool and put it in the fridge.
I'm not sure how long it lasts, I'd say about a couple of weeks. The chutney worked out perfectly with the brioche and pâté, and I imagine it'll also work well used sparingly with a really strong cheddar. I also used a couple dollops stirred into a red wine reduction to sauce a duck breast, cooked to medium rare, with great effect.