McGill students are some of my favourite people in the world: friendly, welcoming, funny.
But to be honest, you can all be a bit intimidating. Sometimes it seems like everyone is simultaneously curing cancer in their kitchen, singlehandedly saving Montreal’s underprivileged children from illiteracy, and collaborating with professors on important research. Many of you are impeccably dressed, even when it’s 8:30 in the morning and there’s a blizzard outside. You arrange elegant tea parties and wine and cheeses with seemingly no effort. You are very impressive people.
Most of the time, I’m happy to be surrounded by such shining brilliance. But there will be an odd day when I feel like the ugly duckling of McGill. I’ll wander around glumly feeling inferior, even though I know that most of the people I see probably feel the same way.
Well, ducks, the only solution I’ve found is to wait until the feeling goes away. But sometimes making yourself a fancy dessert can help you feel a little less like an impostor amidst your elegant and cultured friends.
Braised Plums with Chantilly Cream:
You can make this with any stone fruit—plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, pluots (apricot-plum hybrids), anything you can lay your hands on. Chantilly Cream is a fancy way of saying “softly whipped cream with a little bit of vanilla thrown in.”
• 12-16 small plums (Mont Royal plums are in season right now)
• 2 T + 2 tsp sugar (I use coconut sugar, but use whatever you have on hand)
• 1 T butter
• 1/2 C whipping cream
• 1/2 tsp vanilla
Cut all of the plums in two and remove the stones. Sprinkle the cut sides with 2 T of the sugar. Next, take out a big sauté pan and melt the butter over medium heat. Put the plums in, cut side down, and put a lid on the pan. Leave them to their own devices for 6-10 minutes, until they are softened and the cut sides are caramelized, while you make the Chantilly Cream.
Put the cream in the bowl of a mixer and beat it until it is billowy and soft. (Contrary to popular belief, you can also do this with nothing but a whisk and elbow grease!). Stir in the 2 tsp sugar and the vanilla.
Serve the plums topped with the cream.
Makes 4-6 servings.