This is just to say, I have eaten the savoury plum tart


We are not romantic people, Mr Gander and I. You will not find a bunch of roses on my desk on a certain February morning (dark chocolate is a totally different matter).

Yet, we buy each other little gifts any time of the year. We hold hands in the street. We laugh at each other’s silliness, but are also considerate, even sweet.

Maybe the first sentence should be, we are not conventionally romantic, pink hearts and teddy bears kind of people. Instead it is the kind of affection that goes ‘to the level of every day’s / Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.’ (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)


Which brings me to this savour plum tart. It won’t leave you in a sugar coma. It is savoury, creamy, the caramelised onions setting off sweetness from the plum slices and the crispy tart shell – all of which makes the tart well worth savouring slowly.

It is equally graceful with warm caramelised onions and plums, or at room temperature when the slivers of basil comes to the fore. You will want to come back to this again.

Kind of like a good relationship – right?


And when one of you accidentally eats some of the fruit and mascarpone meant for the tart, you can leave this tongue-in-cheek pastiche of a note:

This is just to say**

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

(William Carlos Williams)

(ah well, no relationship is perfect)


A few notes on this recipe. The original asks you to make a basic pastry base of pâte brisée, and I’ve reproduced the recipe below. I’ve only ever made this tart for weeknight dinners (including the one where I served this yam ice cream), when I have not much more than 1.5 hours to prepare everything. Instead of the pâte brisée, I took to cutting shapes – rounds, flowers, dog bones – from good puff pastry using cookie cutters and baking them under a baking tray to keep them thin rather than puffed.

The result was low effort “tart bases” that emerged, golden and crispy and round/flower/dog bone shaped, while I fuss around the stove in a kind of controlled panic.


I like to assemble the tarts just before serving, to keep the puff pastry crisp. Mascarpone. Onions. Plums. A few snips of basil (either normal basil or Thai / purple basil, I have a slight preference for the colour and taste of Thai basil) and a balsamic or Chinkiang drizzle.

On the drizzle – the day of the yam ice cream dinner (as it’s come to be known around here) I had no balsamic vinegar. The plums were also too soft so that some of them became a jammy mess. In controlled panic, I added some Chinkiang vinegar, a dash of water and palm sugar to the plum jammy mess and stirred until it came together into a kind of jammy syrup. It was really good! (Still trying to reproduce the state of controlled panic and recipe for chinkiang plum drizzle…)

As for the mascarpone, I also wonder if ricotta and goats cheese would work, possbly with a result that leans more towards the savoury. Maybe it’s time for another round of tart making.

This is – hopefully just in time – going into Fromage Homage’s monthly cheese round-up. This month is all about cheesy romance. Whether quoting well known (too well known?) poems counts as cheesy, or the use of mascarpone in cheesy romance dishes is itself cheesy, I’ll let the judge decide.

Fromage Homage

Savoury Plum Tart

(adapted from this recipe on Food 52)


Tart filling

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 firm plums or 4-5 sugar plums, pitted and sliced into wedges
1 tsp sugar
4-5 tbsp mascarpone cheese (increased from original, which asks for 1 tbsp only)
1 tsp honey or 1/2 tbsp palm sugar
1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar or Chinkiang vinegar (Chinese black glutinous rice vinegar, available from all Asian grocers and some good supermarkets)
1 tablespoon basil or Thai basil, snipper into thin slices with scissors


1. Make tart shells using the puff pastry cheats-method, or by making pâte brisée. Methods for both are below.

2. For the onions: heat the olive oil in a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook stirring often until soft and caramelised, about 15 to 18 minutes. Or, I close the lid to the saucepan and let the onions cook down, slowly, for about 30 minutes, and then remove the lid and stir more diligently for the last 5 minutes until the onions have caramelised. Remove onions from the pan.

3. For the plums: Melt the butter in the pan then add the sugar and the plums. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the plums have lightly softened and the sugar has melted into the plums, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool to room temperature. (Note, I’ve cooked the plums and sugar with just a dash of olive oil, and it seemed fine as well)

4. For the Chinkiang drizzle: take an extra couple of slices of plums, cook in the same pan over medium heat, with a few tablespoons of water, until the plums have softened and is breaking down into a jam-like consistency. Stir in Chinkiang vinegar and palm sugar, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until the mixture becomes more syrupy looking. Taste and add more palm sugar if desired.

5. To assemble: spread the mascarpone cheese in a thin thickish layer over the tart shell. Add a layer of caramelized onions, then add a layer of plum slices. Either drizzle honey and balsamic vinegar over the top or drizzle the Chinkiang mixture. Garnish with basil or Thai basil. Serve at room temperature.


Tart shell


Either one sheet of puff pastry (I used store bought all-butter puff pastry)


1 cup plain / AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup ice water
1 egg


1. If using puff pastry: Preheat oven to 160C / 320F. Cut frozen puff pastry sheet into shape. I’ve done this by cutting the sheet into four pieces (one for each dinner guest – great for entrees) or cutting shapes using cookie cutters – perfect for canapes.

2. Place puff pastry pieces between two sheets of baking paper, and put a baking tray or some other weight on top. The idea is the puff pastry won’t be allowed to puff while baking. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until barely browned. Remove the weight and uncover the pastry pieces, bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown. This can be done a day in advance and the pastry pieces kept in an airtight container.

3. If making pâte brisée: Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cubed butter and pulse for about 5 seconds until well-combined. Pour in the ice water and pulse just until the dough forms a ball. Note: this can also be done by hand; use your finger tips to blend in the butter but be sure to work quickly so it doesn’t melt.

4. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Freeze 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

5. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F. Roll out the dough onto a floured work surface to create a circle 1/8-inch (0.3 cm) thick. Invert a 9-inch (approx 23 cm) plate over the dough to measure the size of the tart and cut out a circle. Set the dough onto a silicone baking sheet or a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Crimp the edges of the dough to make a decorative rustic edge.

6. Set a piece of foil over the dough and fill with dried beans. Leave the edges exposed. In a small bowl whisk together the egg and water. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the edges with egg wash.
Bake the tart dough for 8 minutes. Remove the foil with the dried beans and use a fork to dock the bottom of the tart. Return the tart to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.


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49 thoughts on “This is just to say, I have eaten the savoury plum tart

  1. laurasmess 27 February 2014 at 2:03 am Reply

    Absolutely, positively beautiful. Those glistening plums, the gorgeous creamy mascarpone, the caramelized onions… ah! Heavenly! I love the fact that you’ve used a quick puff base. Much easier for a busy evening after work… and arguably just as stunning. I’m definitely going to try this. Oh, and I love the fact that you guys have your own sense of romance, undefined by commercial expectations. Aaron and I are kinda the same. We’ll make our own traditions 😉 Great post, love everything you do! xx

    • saucygander 28 February 2014 at 1:54 am Reply

      I’m so glad you like this! The tart was stunning in taste as well as postmark, and all for not much effort! Love simple recipes like this that rely on good ingredients and skillful balance of flavours.
      Hoorah for making our own traditions! 😀

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  3. Alex 27 February 2014 at 3:06 am Reply

    These are absolutely beautiful and they sound delicious!

    • saucygander 28 February 2014 at 1:55 am Reply

      Thank you! The tarts are surprisingly easy to make, bonus!

  4. FromageHomage 27 February 2014 at 3:11 am Reply

    Aw, these look lovely – although I think I could probably eat rather too many of them. Love that ice box poem too 🙂 Thanks for sharing with this month’s Cheese, Please! Challenge.

    • saucygander 28 February 2014 at 1:57 am Reply

      Lol, after I took the photos, I may have eaten too many for lunch. The things we do for our blogs! The ice box poem is the best, and it was about plums, how could I not quite it? 😀

  5. newsanchortohomemaker 27 February 2014 at 3:48 am Reply

    This is so pretty! I love this for having guests over. Pinning this now. Thanks for sharing!

    • saucygander 28 February 2014 at 1:58 am Reply

      I’m so glad you liked it! It is a really good recipe for when you have guests over! 😀

  6. lapetitecasserole 27 February 2014 at 3:53 am Reply

    Saucy your recipe is amazing… and the photo are gorgeous ! and yes, probably with your husband you are not conventionally romantic, but reading at your post I think you are perfect!

    • saucygander 28 February 2014 at 2:03 am Reply

      Wow, thank you so much! This tart is wonderful as it looks very elegant with little effort!
      And as Laura’s Mess says, well make our own traditions in romance. 😉

  7. Experienced Tutors 27 February 2014 at 4:12 am Reply

    Lovely post. . . and lovely scrummies. 🙂

    • saucygander 28 February 2014 at 2:04 am Reply

      Thank you.. wise old owl. Hope your manuscript editing is coming along, when do I get my signed copy? 😉

      • Experienced Tutors 28 February 2014 at 11:35 pm

        I’m sure one can be arrange once I learn how to spell my name. 🙂

      • saucygander 1 March 2014 at 2:28 am

        Haha! – good luck with it all.

  8. tableofcolors 27 February 2014 at 4:43 am Reply

    Ah, so lovely and so delicious! I would love to try your recipe. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • saucygander 28 February 2014 at 4:58 am Reply

      Thank you! It is a gorgeous recipe.

  9. lovinghomemade 27 February 2014 at 6:24 am Reply

    Beautiful! Sounds like you have a wonderful relationship, that’s brilliant

  10. yummychunklet 27 February 2014 at 6:57 am Reply

    These tarts look beautiful.

  11. Karen 27 February 2014 at 7:24 am Reply

    Beautiful and I’m sure delicious…just pinned it.

  12. thepaddingtonfoodie 27 February 2014 at 7:45 am Reply

    Gorgeous. Absolutely the kind of food I love to eat. So glad it’s plum season.

  13. tinywhitecottage 27 February 2014 at 8:26 am Reply

    Such a lovely post! I love your “controlled panic” expression. Stunning photographs, I can almost taste it.

  14. Gather and Graze 27 February 2014 at 9:06 am Reply

    Love the fact that fruit can cross over from sweet to savoury. Your little plum tarts look really wonderful – a great mix of flavours!

    • saucygander 2 March 2014 at 8:50 pm Reply

      Thanks, also like fruits that can do mains or dessert. I was reading the latest SBS Feast magazine and saw a couple of Thai stir fries or noodles with pineapple, another fruit that does sweety and savoury equally well. 🙂

  15. The Novice Gardener 27 February 2014 at 11:11 am Reply

    Saucy, these are just beautiful! Photos are gorgeous! I must try these tarts!

  16. ladyredspecs 27 February 2014 at 11:12 am Reply

    I’m a big fan of tart sweet savoury flavours…this really hits the mark for me. BTW your poetry quotes are not cheesy!

    • saucygander 2 March 2014 at 8:31 pm Reply

      Thanks, re the poetry. These tarts are really good, because they are simple. I also think you can use other types of fruit depending on the season.

  17. Johnny Hepburn 27 February 2014 at 1:38 pm Reply

    Gosh, I do like that last photo! I could almost have grabbed that from my screen.
    What a great combo of ingredients. Ah, okay, I’m biased as I adore plums. You might’ve noticed. Oh, and I kinda like caramelised onions – now, that should surprise you.
    And what a clever thing to do with puff. Would never have thought of that.

    • saucygander 2 March 2014 at 8:46 pm Reply

      Yes, this sounded like a Johnny dish, maybe with some of your plum jam mixed with the balsamic and drizzled over the tarts. Actually, I could just put caramelised onions and plum jam over the tart base and eat it like that!
      As for the puff pastry – saw something about that ages ago, and stuck in my mind as a lazy option. I like lazy options. 🙂

  18. Michelle 27 February 2014 at 2:02 pm Reply

    William Carlos Williams? Elizabeth Barrett Browning? And plums in savory tarts? Just about perfect!

    • saucygander 2 March 2014 at 8:47 pm Reply

      Thank you! It was my take on cheesy romance, I guess. 🙂

  19. Liz 27 February 2014 at 2:30 pm Reply

    oh this is lovely! poetry and tarts 🙂 I’d take your version of romance over Hallmark’s anyday.

    • saucygander 2 March 2014 at 9:30 pm Reply

      Thank you! I wanted to make this for valentines dinner, but someone had eaten the mascarpone cheese… which made the William Carlos Williams poem surprisingly appropriate. 😀

  20. lapetitepaniere 27 February 2014 at 4:22 pm Reply

    I love the recipe and the presentation is awesome 🙂

  21. lemongrovecakediaries 27 February 2014 at 6:38 pm Reply

    Ooooh yum – I have some plums I was saving to make jam but this looks much more interesting 🙂

    • saucygander 2 March 2014 at 9:31 pm Reply

      Jam would be lovely! I also made spiced plum chutney, trying to make the most of plum season!

      • lemongrovecakediaries 3 March 2014 at 9:06 am

        I ended up making jam but I forgot about it and burnt it slightly 😦 I am thinking of doing a take on Maggie Beers burnt fig and caramel icecream…:)

      • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 2:54 am

        That’s brilliant! Burnt plum and cardamom-caramel ice cream. You saw it here first people!

  22. chef mimi 28 February 2014 at 1:02 am Reply

    I can’t get past the gorgeous photos! Beautiful!

    • saucygander 2 March 2014 at 9:38 pm Reply

      Thank you, Chef! The photos took themselves, it was one of the quickest I’ve done! 🙂

  23. Riddhi 28 February 2014 at 2:18 am Reply

    This tart is absolutely elegant & stunning! 🙂

  24. Lu 1 March 2014 at 12:13 am Reply

    Agree to be on the same bath of relationships , im so not the huge amount of hearts person nor flowers eveywhere but i still love gufts specially when they r kitchen related loool

    This tart looks yumy!

    • saucygander 2 March 2014 at 9:49 pm Reply

      Thanks Lu, kitchen related gifts are the best they are my favourite! 😀

  25. ediblethings 1 March 2014 at 10:58 pm Reply

    So beautiful! And the perfect thing to make as fingerfood for a party for late summer. Since it isn’t basil season over here, I’m going to give rosemary and thyme a go instead. I love that plums are so versatile that they go with any herb or spice. Thank you

    • saucygander 2 March 2014 at 10:31 pm Reply

      Thank you for the lovely comment! Plums are great aren’t they? I just made some spiced plum chutney, so we can keep enjoying summer fruits for a while longer in autumn and winter. Chutney would probably work with the mascarpone base too, and also make elegant finger food. 😀

  26. Aneela Mirchandani 4 March 2014 at 4:25 pm Reply

    Who needs pink hearts. And onions on plum tarts — great idea.

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