There’s a whole load of summer fruit on my kitchen counter. I avoid the fridge, because it sucks away the juiciness and leaves a taste of disappointment, so anything that isn’t snatched away for snacking in the first day or two goes into the freezer for future cooking, or used in cakes, puddings or even glorious mains, such as today’s sweet-and-sour plum and sausage traybake. Whatever I do with it, I am always on a mission to capture the effects of the summer sun, which gives a very particular kind of sweetness to what’s in the fruit bowl right now.
Sticky sweet-and-sour plums and sausages (pictured above)
This one-tray bake celebrates plums in all their red glory, as they slowly break down into a sweet-sour sauce for sausages and potatoes. Use any kind of sausage you like here: duck or chicken would work well, as would vegetarian ones.
Prep 25 min
Cook 1 hr 35 min
5 red onions, peeled and cut into 6 wedges each (750g net weight)
2 heads garlic, cut in half widthways
3 baking potatoes (750g), skin-on, cut into quarters lengthways
120ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
750g plums (ie, about 10), halved and stoned (600g net weight)
3 rosemary stalks, leaves picked and stems discarded
8 pork sausages
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
90g pomegranate molasses
50g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp sumac
2½ tbsp (10g) parsley, picked leaves with soft stalks attached
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Put the onions, garlic, potatoes, five tablespoons of oil, 100ml water, a teaspoon and a half of salt and a good grind of pepper in a large roasting tin (roughly 40cm x 30cm). Toss together, then bake for 35 minutes, stirring once halfway, until the vegetables have softened and started to take on some colour and the water has evaporated.
Lay the plums cut side up in the tray, add the rosemary leaves, then nestle in the sausages. In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, molasses, sugar, two tablespoons of water, a tablespoon and a half of sumac, two tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, pour this all over the contents of the tray, then return to the oven for 40 minutes, turning the sausages once halfway, so they cook and colour evenly.
Turn up the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 and roast for 10 minutes more, until everything is nicely browned, the plums have broken down and the sauce is bubbling and sticky.
Toss the parsley with the remaining teaspoon and a half of sumac and remaining tablespoon of oil, dot all over the sausage mixture, then serve warm straight from the tray.
Cheesy fruit stromboli
Stromboli is essentially a large piece of rolled and stuffed pizza dough that’s typically filled with savoury cold cuts and cheese. This take is both sweet and savoury, so it’s especially good for brunch or a late-afternoon treat.
Prep 20 min
Prove 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 40 min
For the dough
190g plain flour
10g fresh yeast, roughly crumbled, or 1½ tsp instant dried active yeast
1½ tsp caster sugar
⅔ tsp salt
1½ tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
110ml lukewarm water
For the filling
3 peaches (400g), halved, pitted and cut into 6 wedges (350g)
130g caster sugar
1½ tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp cornflour
80g whole-milk ricotta
120g low-moisture mozzarella (eg, from a block), roughly grated
2 tsp lemon zest
½ tbsp thyme leaves, plus a few soft stalks and leaves extra
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tbsp demerara sugar
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Put all the ingredients for the dough in a stand mixer with the dough hook in place, and beat on medium-high speed for eight minutes, or until smooth (it will be a little sticky). Use oiled hands to transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour, until doubled in size.
While the dough is proving, put the peaches, 100g caster sugar and the oil in a 30cm x 20cm baking dish. Toss to coat, then roast for 10 minutes. Add the blueberries, bake for 10 minutes more, or until all the fruits has cooked and softened, but still retains its shape, then remove and leave to cool.
Once the contents of the dish are cool, gently drain into a sieve set over a bowl. Return the fruit to the baking dish and gently stir in a tablespoon of cornflour, to coat.
Pour the fruit liquid into a small saute pan, set it over a medium-high heat and cook for six to eight minutes, until reduced to a loose syrup. Set aside to cool – it will thicken as it sits.
Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, lemon zest, remaining half-tablespoon of cornflour and remaining 30g caster sugar in a bowl.
Line a large oven tray with greaseproof paper. Using well oiled hands, transfer the dough to the paper and gently stretch it out into a roughly 20cm x 28cm rectangle. Spread the ricotta mixture all over the top, leaving a 2cm border all around the edge, then spread this with the fruit mixture, this time leaving a 4cm rim all around the outside, and sprinkle the picked thyme evenly all over the top.
With the longer end of the dough rectangle facing you, very gently pull it up and over to roll the stromboli into a long cylinder, pushing the fruit filling inwards as you go and making it as compact as possible – don’t worry if you get the odd small tear. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top, pushing them slightly into the dough, then brush the top with the egg yolk, sprinkle with the demerara sugar and bake for 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5 and bake for 25 minutes more, until golden brown and cooked through.
Remove from the oven, and carefully lift the stromboli, still on its paper base, to a wire rack. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes before serving, warm or at room temperature, with the reserved fruit syrup alongside.
Frozen raspberries for little humans
A bag of berries in the freezer is an easy way to make a quick dessert if you have nothing else in the house. I blitz them with yoghurt and honey for an instant frozen yoghurt, which I serve just as it is or with some crunchy biscuits or meringue. This richer version is courtesy of my colleague Claudine Boulstridge, who is always on the lookout for creative ways to feed her three kids.
Prep 10 min
Cook 5 min
Freeze 30 min
Makes 8 scoops, to feed 4 children
350g frozen raspberries
140ml fridge-cold double cream
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, or the scraped seeds of 1 vanilla pod
30g icing sugar
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
40g white chocolate, scraped with a peeler to make thin curls
30g coconut flakes, well toasted
Put everything except the chocolate and coconut into a food processor and blitz until well combined – you’ll probably need to scrape down the sides a few times as you go. Transfer to a container for which you have a lid, cover and freeze for 30-40 minutes, until it’s a loose, soft-serve consistency.
Scoop into four small bowls, sprinkle over the white chocolate and coconut flakes, and serve at once.