July bring almost an over abundance of produce with the shop shelves overflowing with a selection of fruit and vegetables both home grown and imported. While the selection of seafood is just as good with lots of shellfish and fish great for picnics and barbecue. Warm July days and the many outdoor concerts creating great opportunities for relaxing picnics.
Lobstersare good value and of high quality in July purchase live ones or order them from your fishmonger freshly cooked and eat on the same day. When choosing lobster make sure all their claws are intact and if buying them live make they should be active not sluggish.
Prawns are plentiful and excellent cooked on the barbecue or in light pasta dishes.Scallops are also good quality in July try making grilled or pan fried scallops with black pudding in a salad or with mashed potato and a garlic cream sauce.
Oily fish such assardines, mackerel, and herrings are abundant in July. These fish are very reasonably priced as it seems many of us prefer not to eat them in our homes but only at restaurants or while on holiday in some European country. Sardines and mackerel are excellent on the barbecue, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Scale sardines gently with the back of your knife and rise them under cold water. To fillet sardines and herrings cut the fish along it belly and remove its innards, then press down with the heel of your hand on the back bone to loosen it. Cut through the back bone near the head and pull the rest of the back and side bones out towards the tail. Try this months recipe for "Stuffed Sardines in a Tomato and Olive Sauce".
White fish includinglemon sole and plaice are improving with larger thicker fillets. Simply grill them or try simple gojouns coated with crumbs and mixed herbs.
It's your last chance for wild sea trout as the season ends at the end of July. Large whole sea trout make an excellent summer dish when baked or poached for a large group of people. This month we serve poached sea trout with the unusual addition of a Vietnamese style three flavour sauce (see seasonal recipes).
Clam, cockles, salmon wild and farmed turbot, halibut, witch, sea bass, monkfish, haddock, whiting and whitebait are all good in July along with many more varieties.
Spring lamb is widely available and better quality and value than it has been in past months. Lamb chops, lamb cutlets, racks and legs of lamb make a great addition to a barbecue or serve roast lamb cold with a salad of new potatoes or try a spicy Thai lamb salad.
British outdoor reared veal is becoming more common than in the past due to the move towards organics. It has a darker meat due to its diet and exercise unlike the European veal which is kept indoors and fed milk.
Salad leavesare swelling from the shelves of supermarkets and grocers.Once open a time salad leaves meant simply iceberg and cos lettuce but now lambs lettuce, curly endive and oak leaf among many more varieties. are a common sight on shops shelves.
The Herbselection is abundant in July with basil, mint and corianderat their best. A mixed selection of fresh herbs with a few salad leaves make a delicious salad. Basil, mint and coriander are essential to many East Asian dishes.
New seasons leeks make a simple addition to a barbecue and the mild flavour makes an excellent vichyssoise perfect for a hot day.
Outdoor grown cucumber is available now until October and has a better flavour than those available all year round.
Corn from the Isle of Wight makes it to the shelves with noticeable drop in price which will continue for the next couple of months. Corn is good on the barbecue and makes a good addition to salsas. Serve freshly cooked corn with butter flavoured with garlic, paprika and mixed herbs.
Tomatoes, peppers, globe artichokesimported from Italy make their mark with full flavours.
Fennel, salsify, cauliflower,and British runner beansare all good in July
A large selection of berries including strawberries, blueberries and raspberries call out for "Summer Pudding" (see last months recipe). Ripe strawberries of course are also excellent served simply with cream, one of my favorite ways of serving them is in a glass with a little cointreau and a little freshly ground black pepper. "Strawberry and Blueberry Frozen Yoghurt" is a healthy and colourful dessert that feature in this selection of recipes.
Peaches, apricots, nectarines are good baked and poached on their own or in tarts, pies and cakes. Try our recipe for "Upside Down Apricot Cake" or the classic dish "Peach Melba".