Bare Seasons: February in the Southern Hemisphere
Summer brings an abundance of fruit and vegetables with long warm days. Make the best of these while they are at their very best.
Lamb is at its very best in February, not in spring as is commonly thought, as most of the lamb available then is truly mutton from the spring before. Now the lamb is the right size to be enjoyed with succulent tender flesh. A leg of lamb slowly cooked on a covered barbecue is delicious as it takes on a smoky flavour and retains its moisture, see our recipe for Moroccan Leg of Lamb through our recipe search and with what's leftovers make a Thai Spicy Lamb Salad.
Rock Lobsters are still in season and make an excellent late summer dish served cold simply with a salad and a light mayonnaise or barbecue them with some sweet chili sauce and serve them on noodles.
Beans are good in the summer months. Fresh peas and broad beans are delicious and far superior than the frozen varieties. Many of us have forgotten just how nice they really are. To prepare broad beans remove them from the pod then blanch them in boiling water, peel off the grey membrane and cook them briefly in boiling water. Try pureeing fresh peas or broad beans with mint and yoghurt, serve them as a bed for chargrilled scallops with sweet chili sauce, ( see our recipe for Spicy Scallops on Wontons)or with lamb cutlets.
Tomatoes are at the pick of their season ripe and juicy. They are delicious in salads with a full flavour. Ripe tomatoes with fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella are a marriage made in heaven, served with or without rocket leaves, why not try our recipe for Italian Tomatoes. Tomatoes make a delicious base to steamed or grilled fish when they are roasted slowly in an oven with garlic and sprigs of thyme and or rosemary.
Chokoes are one of my favourite vegetables that are not available in British shops though I do purchase them from Asian grocers under the name chow-chow. Around the suburb I grow up in Sydney vines of them grew like weeds everywhere. My favourite way to eat them is simply boiled and served with white sauce or butter. They are also good in various salads, try cold cooked batons of choko in a salad with prawns, papaya, chilies and Thai fish sauce
Stone orchard fruits are excellent in the last month of summer as they have been able to ripen in the hot sun. These include peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines. All of these are great barbecued and served with a little cream fraiche and drizzled with a sticky wine. They also work well in puff pastry tarts, simply place slices on rolled out puff pastry in circles or rectangles and sprinkle them with sugar, bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Another idea is poaching them in white wine with lots of sugar and spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise and chili) cool them in the syrup and serve.