I love this time of year. Summer is at its height and the produce available reflects this beautifully. Peaches, Apricots and Plums are all wonderfully juicy and ripe. Tender Sweetcorn, Hampshire Watercress, Cos Lettuce and Runner Beans are in abundance. Mediterranean vegetables like Courgettes, Peppers, Tomatoes and Aubergines are still with us and oily fish such as Sardines, Herring, Mackerel and Salmon are also in season, so it’s a good month the get those Omega 3 & 6’s!
So, with so much to choose from, what is August’s top pick? A quick poll of SJHQ confirms raspberries as our No. 1 for August! These eminently squishable, juicy, furry little numbers may well be the finest tasting of all the berries and are a real summer crowd pleaser. Our quick and tasty tip is to try lightly crushing them with a little icing sugar and orange juice, then folding through softly whipped vanilla cream and serving with freshly baked shortbread.
This is definiately the month to make a trip to a pick-your-own farm, and if (as is easy to do) you find yourself witih a little too much fruit that is about to go off or is over ripe there is no need to let it go to waste. Put it in a saucepan with a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice and sugar. Heat slowly until the fruit “pops” and the liquid reduces. You will then have your own jam or a fruit compot!
You can also freeze fruit for the winter raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries and black and redcurrants are all around now, and can be stored in this way. Or you might make one or two extra summer puddings in plastic pudding basins to store in the freezer for a ready made winter treat.
Microwave Crème Brulee with Raspberries (serves 4)
If like me you have a friend with an allotment and a lot of raspberries then beg a handful or two from them for this – the easiest recipe ever. Trust me – the proof is in the pudding when you eat it!! It works in tea cups, in a big dish (be careful if using glass make sure it is heat resistant) or as small individual ramekins.
- 1 ½ cups double cream
- 3 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- about 2 cups hot water
- 4 tablespoons of sugar (to sprinkle on top)
- Put the dish(es) you plan to use into the fridge for about an hour before you start so they will be nice and cold.
- Microwave the cream for 3 minutes in a jug or bowl.
- During this time, whisk the egg yolks, ¼ cup of sugar and the vanilla together until smooth.
- Slowly pour the warm cream into the egg-sugar-vanilla concoction, keep mixing throughout.
- Pour the combined mixture into the microwavable jug or bowl.
- Return to the microwave and cook in 2 minute bursts, whisking well at each interval. You will probably need to cook for about 5 minutes in total, just keep going (and checking it until it is almost set.
- Take your dish(es) out of the fridge, pop a layer of raspberries in the bottom and then pour the custard over the top.
- Cover with foil and return the dish(es) to the fridge for about an hour to allow the custard to set.
- Remove from the fridge, sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar over the top of each dish. Place under the grill until the sugar layer crackles and turns brown, or use a brulee gun if you have one!
In season this month:
Fruits & Nuts
Apples, Apricot, Aubergine, Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Loganberries, Peaches, Plums, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries, Whitecurrants, Cobnuts, Hazelnuts.
Vegetables & Herbs
Artichokes, Aubergines, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Courgettes, Cucumber, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Lamb’s Lettuce, Onions, Pak Choi, Peas (inc. Sugar Snaps) Potatoes, Radishes, Rocket, Runner Beans, Salsify, Scorzonera, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, Watercress.
Meat & Game
Lamb, Rabbit, Venison, Wood Pigeon.
Fish & Shellfish
Black Bream, Crab (brown, hen & Spider), Signal Crayfish, Grey Mullet, Lobster, Mackerel, Pollack, Prawns, Scallops, Sea Bass, Squid, Trout (river – brown and rainbow).
Going out of season
Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherry, Mangetout, Peach, Redcurrant, Strawberries (many of these towards the end of the month)
Suzanne is a professional chef, wife and mother who has lived in South East London all her life.
You can email Suzanne with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
This feature first appeared in the August 2015 issue of SE22 magazine.