Plum, lemon, polenta and almond cake
This is a cake made using the traditions of Italy. Sharp plums or damsons are placed atop a simple almond and polenta cake. Flourless and dairy-free, it is not intentionally health conscious; it just ends up being delicious this way. It will stay fresh for three days if wrapped in foil.
First, heat the oven to 170C. Line the bottom of a 20cm cake tin with baking paper. Put 2 eggs, 70g caster sugar, the zest of 2 lemons and 50ml olive oil into a bowl and whisk until you have a pale, aerated mixture. Fold in 65g ground almonds, 35g polenta and ½ tsp baking powder until just combined. Tip this into the cake tin. Top with 250g halved plums or damsons, the cut half facing down. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until set with a golden top.
Then make a lemon drizzle: just add sugar to the juice of one lemon until you have a grainy, thin paste. Once the cake is cooked and still warm, drizzle over your lemon mixture. Let the cake cool in the tin before serving. Geoff Warburton, psychotherapist and MasterChef finalist, London and Puglia, Italy
Aloo bukhara chutney
Wash 1kg ripe plums, cut in half, remove the stones, then cut into eighths. Finely chop 250g red onion and mix in 300ml apple vinegar, 100g raisins, 2 tsp mustard seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tsp red pepper flakes, 2cm fresh ginger (peeled and sliced) and one cinnamon stick.
Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. When it is bubbling, add 200g light sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves, then reduce the heat to low and keep it simmering for two hours or so, stirring every now and then. The mixture should thicken and turn a deep ruby-red colour. Allow the mix to cool a bit, then pour into sterilised glass jars. Screw on a lid tightly and store the chutney for at least two weeks in a cool, dark place before eating. Paul Bartlett, freelance journalist and food blogger, Kazakhstan
My late mum always made this light and delicious recipe when I was little; now it has been passed down to her granddaughter. I have no measurements: it was always done by eye and taste. First, stew plums in a cup of water, with a few drops of vanilla essence, then sweeten to taste with caster sugar. When the plums have cooled, add 2 to 3 beaten egg yolks, reserving the whites. The mixture must be cold or you will end up with scrambled egg.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in 2 to 3 dessertspoons of caster sugar (please note: my mum lived through rationing, so you may wish to add more). Place the plum mixture in an ovenproof dish, top with the meringue and cook at 160C in a fan oven until the meringue is set and golden. Serve with cream. Jan O’Connor, retired nurse, Manchester
Spicy plum and pan-fried chicken
Boil ½ kg plums with a stick of cinnamon in 2 cups of water. Let the sauce cool, then stone the plums and add ½ cup maple syrup or brown sugar (depending on how sweet the plums are). Liquidise in a food processor.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add a handful of chopped, deseeded red chillies. Add a sprinkle of sea salt, plus a pinch each of cardamom, cinnamon, coriander and fresh black pepper. Bring to the boil, then add a cup of red wine. Lower the heat and allow the sauce to thicken. Marinate your chicken breast with ginger, garlic, pepper and buttermilk for 30 minutes to an hour.
Heat more olive oil in a pan with chopped chilli and garlic, then add the marinated chicken breasts. Brown for 7 minutes each side. Parboil spinach and toss in sesame oil, harissa and chopped garlic. Plate the spinach, dust with roasted sesame seeds and sea salt, then top with the chicken. Ladle on the plum sauce and decorate with thinly sliced plums and sesame seeds. Sanjoy Roy, Delhi and Goa, India
Wild plum jam
I discovered ripe wild plums on the Basingstoke canal towpath in Woking last week and foraged some to make jam. I combined the plums variously with cacao nibs, cinnamon, ginger, orange peel and rhubarb.
First, I simmered the plums in water until soft, then removed the stones and larger skins by pushing through a colander. For the plum and rhubarb jam, I combined 1.2kg of this pulp with 1kg sweetened stewed rhubarb, 900g sugar and 50g cooked lemon (chopped small, soaked in water overnight and simmered for about an hour), stirring to dissolve the sugar, then boiling till set. I used the same ratio of pulp, sugar and lemon for the cacao nib, cinnamon and ginger jams, stirring in the cacao as I potted the jam. For the others, I stirred 1 tsp ground spice into the preserving pan and heated through before potting.
For the plum and orange peel jam, I combined 1.2kg pulp with 500g sugar and 200g candied orange peel. I covered the peel with water and boiled for 5 minutes, then discarded the water. I added fresh water, brought it to the boil again and then simmered for 30 minutes. I then strained the peel and weighed it, reserving the liquid in a separate bowl. I added equal parts sugar and reserved liquid, of the same weight as the peel, back to the pan, heating to dissolve the sugar. I then added the peel and simmered for 30 minutes or so, stirring as it reduced, until the peel was translucent and sticky. Finally, I stirred this with the pulp and sugar, to dissolve the latter, then boiled till set. Mary Tobin, Woking, Surrey
Cut plums into halves or quarters, stones removed. Place in an ovenproof dish greased with butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar and bake at 180C fan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make a batter: heat 125ml milk with 125ml cream and a vanilla pod until just boiling, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Mix 4 eggs with 170g caster sugar until fluffy, then fold in 1 tbsp plain flour. Add the cooled milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking lightly. Pour this over the plums and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until just set. Scatter with flaked almonds, or scatter with 1 tbsp sugar and brulee with a blow torch. Serve warm with plenty of thick cream. Wendy Fowler, retired, France
Duck breast with fresh plum sauce
Simmer four stoned plums in a little wine with a bay leaf and ½ tsp cinnamon. When softened, add 2 tsp sugar. Remove the bay leaf and blend to a smooth paste. Score the skin on the duck breasts and cook on a medium heat until the skin is crispy, then transfer to a 180C oven for 10 minutes. Rest for five minutes and serve with the warm plum sauce, simple green vegetables and steamed potatoes. Eoin McFadden, civil servant, Belfast