Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the ‘red velvet plums with pain perdu’. This is, for sure, a show stopper of a dessert. It could also be breakfast, or brunch, depending on your decadent hungry mood. Inspired by the colours on my kitchen table, the plums were screaming ‘Think red!’. So there I was, seeing red on a plate, slowly adding some matching taste. Cinnamon, star anise, sugar and of course, some red wine. Themed like a cabaret show, with lots of heavy red velvet curtains and the whole spicy pizzazz. Served with a rustic pain perdu and you have a hit.
Instead of having a dinner and a show, I thought of a drink and a show. The show being the plums and pain perdu. The drink is none other than ice-cold red wine mixed with sugar and crushed strawberries. It’s very good indeed. It’s definitely over-the-top to serve all this together, but isn’t that what a good show is all about?
Pain perdu (French toast) is such a satisfying meal to make. It was called ‘lost bread’ because the bread was so old and stale that if it wasn’t cooked in this manner, it would have been lost. I used three-day old country bread, soaked in two eggs, milk and sugar. By only using two eggs, I find the ‘toasts’ to be lighter, airier and more to my taste.
Ingredients: (serves 8 slices)
Red velvet plums:
8 medium plums (halved and stones removed)
300 ml red wine + 2 tbsp (I used Beaujolais)
130 g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
Slice plums in half (horizontally), remove the stones and place in a bowl. Pour the red wine and cover for one hour at room temperature. Drain the plums and save the red wine. In a saucepan, pour the saved red wine + 2 tbsp, add sugar, cinnamon stick, star anise and cook on a low heat until sugar has entirely dissolved. Turn the heat slightly higher and bring the mixture to a boil until it becomes syrupy. Lower heat again and add plums (flesh down). Stir occasionally and gently. Cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, depending on how ripe the plums are. Set aside.
8 slices of stale country bread (or any bread of your choice)
75 g caster sugar
240 ml milk
5-6 tbsp unsalted butter (for frying)
Mix sugar, egg and milk in a large bowl or deep dish and whisk ingredients together until slightly frothy. Soak bread slices on both sides (if bread is stale, soak 8 minutes of each sides, if bread is not stale, soak 4 minutes on each sides). Heat butter in a frying pan on a medium heat. Make sure not to over heat the butter. Add the bread by batches (depending on the size of your pan). Fry 2-3 minutes on each sides. Bread should be golden brown.
Serve pain perdu with the plums and syrup on top.
Strawberry wine cocktail:
400 g fresh strawberries (hulled)
5-7 tbsp sugar (depending on your taste)
1 bottle of red wine (I would recommend a red wine that is nice served cold such as a fresh Burgundy ‘Pinot noir’ or a Beaujolais)
Wash strawberries. Chop coarsely to very small cubes, or place in a food processor and mix for a few seconds. Place in a large jug, sprinkle with sugar and pour red wine. Mix gently. Leave to macerate in fridge for 1-2 hours. Mix gently before serving. Serve ice-cold.