All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.
Fruit is simultaneously simple and frustrating. It can be so perfect that it needs nothing but a splash of cream and a sprinkle of sugar to make the most ethereal dessert. It can also be disappointing and inconsistent, in which case there are very few techniques in most kitchens to help the ingredient along.
I wanted to write this book because fruit is inextricable from my cooking. It shows up in desserts, yes, but, maybe more interestingly, throughout the meal. Think: a dark, leafy green salad studded with pops of juicy berries; a fatty cut of pork balanced by tart yet tender roasted plums; earthy lentils pepped with the sweetness of thin apple slices; or the softness of creamy cheeses kept in check by a pile of bracing currants to be eaten alongside.
Just as necessity is the mother of invention, so too is abundance. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, sure, but also lemon squares, preserved lemons, grilled lemon relish and lemon curd. Fruit lends acidity, sweetness, colour and a range of different textures to dishes both sweet and savoury. There are only so many blueberries I can eat out of hand, so they find their way into my meals in other ways, leveraging their tang the way I might use vinegar or wine. My best cooking comes when I’m excited by an ingredient that is on hand, and I have a sense of different ways to prepare it and other flavours that partner well with it.
Inspired? Here are four recipes to try at home
Grilled Chicken With Apricots, Red Onion & Basil
One of the first big meals I ever made with my friend and mentor Rodger Bowser was a dinner celebrating a local farm that raised incredible heritage chickens. While the chickens were the star, the apricot salad that went along with them was a scene stealer. This dish made its way into my mind and now it just seems intuitive to pair these flavours together. It wasn’t until I made the same meal (or similar, bent through the lens of time) and a dinner guest asked, “Where do you come up with these combos?” that I realised I built my repertoire from years of cooking with others (and great ingredients).
Break down the chicken into quarters: set the chicken, breast side-up with legs pointing at you. Cut between the leg and the bottom of the breast and start to separate the two. Flip the bird over and pop the hip joint of the chicken by lifting the leg quarter up until you hear the ball-socket joint break apart. Cut around the oyster meat and remove the leg. Repeat on the other leg. Then return the now legless bird to breast-side up. Cut down the centre of the breastbone (between the chicken cleavage) and, cutting as close to the bone as possible, lift the breast away from the rib cage. Cut around the base of the wing so that the wing and breast stay connected as you separate them from the centre cavity. Repeat on the other side. Save the centre of the carcass for making stock.
Place the chicken quarters into a dish or sealable bag. Add the oil, garlic, 1 tsp of salt, chili flakes and citrus zest to the bag to coat the chicken. Refrigerate and leave to marinate for at least an hour and up to two days.
Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium. Remove the chicken from the marinade (squeezing off any excess oil). Grill skin-side down until the skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken to a cooler part of the grill and continue cooking until it is cooked through (internal temperature of 75°C), about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the onion into 1-inch wide petals and toss with a glug of olive oil and big pinch of salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until soft and slightly singed. Remove the onions to a medium bowl.
Toss the apricot halves with a glug of olive oil and a big pinch of salt and black pepper. Grill, cut-side down, until the fruit is slightly soft and has good grill lines. Remove from the grill and add to the bowl of onions. Add the citrus juice along with another glug of olive oil. Let it cool slightly.
Just before serving, tear the basil into large pieces and add to the onion-apricot mixture.
To serve, pile the salad on top of each piece of chicken. Looking for sides? Serve with a bowl of cooked lentils, boiled potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, or steamed bulgur and green salad for a robust meal.
Grilled Peach & Ricotta Toasts
I like the heady (not spicy) flavour of Aleppo pepper over these toasts, but those peppers are sometimes hard to find, so I often substitute smoked paprika. It is a bit spicier but still works. Similarly, you could substitute mashed avocado for the ricotta if you’re avoiding dairy.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon zest and juice, a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Brush the cut side of the peaches lightly with neutral oil, then sprinkle with the pepper flakes or paprika.
Grill the peaches, cut-side down, over medium-high heat until they have good grill marks but are not falling apart, about 3 minutes. Transfer the peaches from the grill to a bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar, then let rest for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Grill the bread over medium heat until toasted and starting to char, about 1 minute. Flip and grill the other side, another 1 to 2 minutes. Rub the grilled bread all over with the garlic clove.
Slice the peaches into half-inch thick slices. In a large bowl, dress the leaves with a glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt and black pepper.
To serve, smear the garlic bread with the ricotta mixture, and top with the peach slices and a pile of the rocket.
Poached Salmon With Rhubarb Salad & Pine Nut Relish
This dish is all about contrasts: buttery salmon, the crunch of rhubarb and fennel, peppery rocket, and the singular fatty texture of pine nuts. Fish can be poached in plain water or stock but fortifying the liquid with aromatics adds depth of flavour. Just don’t let it deter you if you don’t have any to hand. If doubling this recipe for a larger party, it may be easier to slow cook the salmon side rather than poach it. To do so, simply bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet, skin-side down, at 150°C until cooked through, about 40 minutes. Then lift the fish from the parchment, leaving the skin (that probably stuck anyway) behind.
In a medium pot, place the onion, celery, bay leaves, thyme and salt evenly across the bottom.
Lay the fish fillets, skin-side down, on top. Add enough water to the pot to just cover the fish fillets, then dot with the butter. Over medium heat, bring the poaching liquid to a simmer and then remove from the heat. Leave the fish in the liquid to carry over cooking until just cooked through, about 7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. The fish will start to leach the white albumin from between the muscle layers. Lift the fish from the poaching liquid and gently peel the skin away.
Meanwhile, slice the rhubarb and fennel very thinly with a sharp knife or mandolin. Immediately dress with the lemon zest and juice, and a big glug of olive oil.
In a small bowl, combine the pine nuts, shallot, olive oil and parsley with a big pinch of salt and stir to mix.
Drain the fennel and rhubarb, then toss with the rocket, a big glug of olive oil and pinch of salt to coat.
To serve, top the fish with the salad and spoon the pine nut relish all over.
Chocolate Pudding With Coffee-Soaked Black Cherries
Similar to brined cherries, these cherries benefit from a long soak in a coffee syrup to help marry the flavours of coffee, chocolate and red fruit. Tossing the soaked cherries in the coffee rub ups the ante and gives a good textural difference with the silky pudding. If you don’t have the time or inclination to soak the cherries, simply tossing in the coffee rub adds just that extra something to an already luxurious dessert.
To make the chocolate pudding, in a medium saucepan, scald 240ml of the milk and the cream over medium heat, being sure not to scorch the bottom. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 240ml of milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Whisk in the eggs and sugar until smooth. Temper in the scalded milk mixture, then return to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until it begins to thicken and boil, about 5 minutes. Whisk at a boil for an additional 2 minutes to cook out the cornstarch. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, butter, rum, vanilla and salt. Whisk until everything is melted and combined, with no streaks. Pour the chocolate mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or pan. Press plastic wrap or wax paper to the surface of the pudding and chill in the fridge until firm, usually at least an hour but preferably overnight.
Divide the pudding among four glasses, bowls or jars and keep cold.
Pack the cherries into a jar.
In a medium bowl, dissolve the granulated sugar in the coffee and then pour over the cherries and let soak for an hour.
Just before serving, drain the cherries and toss with the ground coffee, brown sugar, ginger and salt in a medium bowl to coat. Divide the cherries evenly among the pudding cups and serve.