Thursday, 29 March 2012

Spiced Red Plum and Redcurrent Relish

By Jove I do believe I have a little sunburn upon my arms. Sanding on a deck that is high in the sky, a quaint breeze hiding the true heat of the sun and before you know it, milky white skin has turned an un-attractive pink. Oops.

But we are enjoying the sunshine and the longer evenings, smelling of mown lawns and the approaching season. We set sail in a few weeks so I am busy coming up with menu plans, provisioning lists and ideas for rough weather cooking.

I’ve discovered a little beauty. I made it for a picnic the other day and if I make a few more jars then simple cheese and ham lunches in big seas will be easy to cobble together with a nice little home made touch and the crew will think I’m very brave and dedicated to their stomachs, working hard down below in my dark and dingy galley.  

I got the idea for the plum, red-current and chilli chutney from the Ottolenghi, 'The Cook Book' (brilliant for inspiration when cooking for lots of people), as an accompaniment to some lamb I was roasting for friends. The original recipe in the book called for rhubarb, which I couldn’t find here in France this time of year but it was easy to substitute the rhubarb for redcurrents. And as the recipe rightfully says, you can experiment with whatever fruits are in season and pair nicely with what you’re serving it with. A burst of spice and tart, this goes exceptionally well with a good, French tangy goats cheese, some warm fresh homemade spelt bread and a glass of rosé like you wouldn’t believe.

Do excuse me, my mouth is watering.

Also, it lasts so well in the fridge and the flavours improve with age (like me). I will certainly be making a batch or two for my ships stores. But will continue to pray for calm seas! 

For a fabulous jar of easy-to-make chutney you will need;

6-8 red plums
1 red chilli, halved and seeded
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
100ml red wine vinegar
200g castor sugar
1 punnet of redcurrants removed from their stems
1 small knob of fresh ginger, peeled and very finely sliced and cut into wee strips


  • Stone and cut the plums into quarters and put in a heavy based saucepan with the redcurrants, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, vinegar and sugar. Stir and bring to the boil. Then turn down to a gentle simmer and whilst keeping an eye on it, stirring occasionally and enjoying the aroma, cook gently for 25 to 30 minutes or until the fruit has a jam-like consistency (pleasingly gooey). It may need more or less depending on your stove.

  • When you have the desired consistency, remove the chilli and transfer to a jar and leave to cool. This will store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks (mine is still great or better after a month in the fridge but do keep an eye on it). Serve as you wish with a roast joint or with a cheeky little French cheese the next day on the beach with some homemade bread. They’ll love you for it.

See; dead easy! And dead great!

Thanks for reading, back soon with loads of pre-delivery cooking recipes and menu ideas for long passages at sea. See you then.


On a boat on the hard.... not my favourite thing.