Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day,
listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky,
is by no means a waste of time.
- John Lubbock, The Use Of Life
Not much of a summer we've had. It's been cool if not downright chilly. Gray and lots of rain. We have enjoyed nary a picnic out in the vines nor many strolls along the river. I did spend an extremely hot few weeks in Florida, sweltering days, steamy evenings. We did fire up the grill on my brother's back porch for steaks and corn on the cob but it was tough simply hanging around the patio for long periods of time.; breathing became labored and sweat trickled down my back. Hot. Okay, so I'm not happy here and I'm not happy there. Because I miss the eating outside.
I am part of a project created to spread the love of good, homemade food: 12 food bloggers have gathered together and created Progressive Eats, a virtual dinner party in which we each create a recipe, prepare a dish along a theme chosen by one or the other, the chosen host of the month. Our goal? Create a menu (something that I'm particularly bad at, so this is great even for me!) and bring our readers delicious, often quite simple from-scratch home recipes. The community dinner parties with real meals from scratch was created by Barb of Creative Culinary.
Summer's lease hath all too short a date.
- William Shakespeare, Shakespeare's Sonnets
Our second Progressive Eats virtual dinner party is hosted by the lovely Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake and she's invited us to a Summer Barbecue! This month's menu is a real doozy, too, with fantastic recipes from Liz's Whiskey Marinated Pork Tenderloin to Barb's Peach Melba Pavlova with Caramel Sauce and everything – appetizers, soups, salads, sides and even bread – in between. We've created a menu for you that is going to make you want to fire up the grill, slip into shorts, t-shirt and flip flops and have one more summer barbecue.
I brought dessert. I wanted to create a dessert that was light, refreshing and fruity… and not too many calories, just perfect after a long barbecue with lots of eatin'. I knew I wanted to use the summer's best plums, which we have now in abundance at the market. Poached with brown sugar and rum, not too much of either, just enough to heighten and complement the flavor of the plums. Once poached, I decided to use half of them to create a light mousse using lower fat Petite Suisse, all the flavor and pleasure without the heaviness or the guilt.
You could fold the poached, pureed fruit into anything, serve them atop or topped with so many things, from whipped cream to ice cream to cake. They are delicious.
Visit all of the Progressive Eats blogs and create your own Summer Barbecue!
Wendy of Sunchowder's Emporia made Grilled Tequila Lime Shrimp Skewers
Megan of Stetted made Pimiento Cheese Jalapeno Poppers
Soup and Salad:
Lauren of Healthy, Delicious made Grilled Vegetable Panzanella
Jenni of Pastry Chef Online made Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho
Barbara of Barbara Bakes made Cheesy Garlic Bread
Main Course (our Hostess):
Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake made Whiskey Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Lana of Never Enough Thyme made Curried Corn
Jane of The Heritage Cook made Amped Up BBQ Beans
Ansh of Spice Roots made Grilled Rosemary Potatoes
Milisa of Miss in the Kitchen made Summer Fruit Spritzers
Barb of Creative Culinary made Peach Melba Pavlova with Caramel Sauce
Jamie of Life's a Feast made Rum-Poached Plum Mousse and Compote
RUM-POACHED PLUMS and MOUSSE
Petite-Suisse is a fresh, unsalted, creamy cheese like cream cheese. They are sold in packs of 6 cylinders or pots, each weighing 60 g. It can be replaced with fromage frais or quark. Cream cheese can be used but it is tangier.
For the plums:
1 lb (550 g) sweet ripe plums
2 Tbs golden granulated sugar, turbinado sugar, cassonade
2 Tbs dark rum
Small pinch salt
¼ cup water
Halve or quarter the plums and discard the pits. Place the plums in a saucepan or skillet, stir in the sugar and heat over a low flame, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the juices from the plums begin to thicken just slightly. Add the rum, the pinch salt and the water and, stirring, all the mixture to simmer for several minutes until the plums are very soft and the juices have reduced to about half and are slightly thickened.
The plums can be eaten warm with ice cream or cake or topped with whipped cream. If you want to make the mousse, all the plums and syrup to cool completely, even chilling overnight in the refrigerator.
For the mousse:
About half the poached plums
4 small Petite-Suisses (240 g), full fat or lower fat
4 Tbs heavy whipping cream, chilled
½ tsp powdered gelatin
Sugar to taste
Using a blender, a small robot or an emulsion mixer, puree about half the plums and juice. Strain the purée to remove any bits of skin left. Take about ¼ cup of the purée/liquid and sprinkle the gelatin over top and allow 5 minutes to soften. Gently heat the purée and gelatin (you do not want this to boil) for about 4 – 5 minutes until the gelatin has completely dissolved. You could also do this with a bit of rum, although I have not tried this yet.
Beat the cold cream for a couple of minutes until thickened then beat in the Petite-Suisses until thick. Fold in the puréed plums and juice as well as the juice with the gelatin until well blended. Taste; if you like it sweeter, simply add more sugar to taste.
Divide the poached plums with their syrup between 6 serving glasses. Divide the mousse evenly among the serving glasses atop the poached plums. Refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Serve chilled.