As I wondered around the market again this week, all the fresh fruit on the stalls was starting to look absolutely awesome. I was tempted with luscious strawberries, stunning looking cherries, thirst quenching melons, along with apricots, nectarines and succulent peaches just coming into season, but in the end, I opted for a large bag of fresh, juicy plums to take home.

Plums, belonging to the genus Prunus, are a diverse group of fruit-bearing trees known for their juicy, sweet, and sometimes tart flesh. Originating in China, plums have been cultivated for thousands of years and are now grown worldwide in temperate regions. They come in a variety of colours, including red, purple, yellow, and green, and I really think sweet-sour, aromatic plums, bursting with flavour are a very underrated ingredient.

Plums are low-calorie fruits and do not cause unhealthy spikes in your blood sugar levels. They are a healthy way to satisfy your hunger because they contain high levels of vitamin C, which fortifies the body's defences against infection and increases the amount of energy-giving iron that we absorb from food. They also provide delicious eating and can be used in so many different and interesting ways. They can be poached in sugar syrup with honey, cinnamon, vanilla, and cloves or roasted and caramelised with brown sugar, almonds. Spoon over thick Greek yoghurt or vanilla ice cream or serve with a creamy panna cotta. At the restaurant this week we are serving a selection of fresh plums with our foie gras terrine, but for a simple lunch, try sliced plums with Serrano ham and some soft goat's cheese crumbled over the top with a few dressed rocket leaves. Absolutely delicious!

Roast pork is also amazingly good with glazed plums and a chunky, sweet and sour plum chutney can really liven up cold meats, pâté and salads during the winter months, but I do think duck and plums are one of my favourite combos as they were simply made to go together. I especially adore Chinese style plum sauce when it is flavoured with five spice powder, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel seeds and a cinnamon stick…it is just about the most perfect marriage anywhere!



Spiced Duck breast with Chinese-style plum sauce



Ingredients      Serves 4


4 duck breasts (about 175g each) with skin


8 plums, halved and stoned

½ tsp salt

½ tsp Szechuan pepper, ground

½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder

1 tsp ginger, finely chopped

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp soy sauce

½ cinnamon stick

1 star anise

Juice of 2 limes


Season the duck breasts with the salt, pepper and five-spice powder. Fry the duck in a large frying pan, skin-side down on high for 1-2 minutes until crisp and golden. Turn over the duck breasts and place them on a baking tray.

Roast them in a hot oven (200ºc/gas6) for about 6-8 minutes until just cooked and pink in the middle. Remove from the oven and rest in a warm place for 3-5 minutes.


For the plum sauce:

Cook the plums and ginger over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the honey, soy sauce, cinnamon stick, star anise and lime juice. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until juicy and softened. Remove the cinnamon & star anise; then blend to a smooth puree. Slice the duck breasts and serve with the plum sauce and steamed pak choy.




Ingredients:                serves 6


10-12 ripe plums, sliced thinly

2tbsp icing sugar

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios


Sweet pastry:

450g plain flour

Pinch of salt

150g icing sugar

200g cold butter (diced)

3 egg yolks


Pistachio Frangipane:

6 egg yolks

150g butter

100g ground almonds

75g ground pistachios

130g sugar

50g flour

10g corn flour

1 vanilla pod (optional)



For the sweet pastry:

Place the butter, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and egg yolks and pulse again, just enough to incorporate the eggs. Scrap out the pastry and wrap in cling film. Place in the fridge to rest for at least 30-40 minutes.


Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick.

Line a 20cm tart ring with the pastry and rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, prepare the frangipane. Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out all the vanilla seeds. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter & vanilla seeds until creamy, then add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs yolks little by little, beating well after each addition, then stir in the ground almonds, ground pistachios & flour.


Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.

Spread the pistachio frangipane evenly over the pastry case.

Arrange the plum slices in a circular pattern over the frangipane, overlapping slightly and press them lightly into the filling. Dust lightly with icing sugar and place in the hot oven for 30-35 minutes until the frangipane is cooked and the top is lightly caramelised. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top.

To Serve:

Let the tart cool before serving. Enjoy it warm or at room temperature, plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.