Spring is well under way bringing plenty of fresh seasonal produce including seafood, vegetables, fruit and early spring lamb and kid. Alfresco dining becomes more tempting as the days warm up.
Spring offers an abundance of vegetables includingglobe artichokes, silverbeet, spinach, watercress, chokoes, garlic and zucchini.
October brings plenty of beans including: broad beans, peas, sugar snaps, green beans, wing beans, snake beans and bortolli. These make great salads, prepare a mixture of them cold with shredded basil leaves, diced plum or cherry tomatoes, parmesan shavings, and pine nuts, drizzle with a little olive oil and verjuice, and serve on polenta croutons
Herbs: Garden herbs add fresh and fragrant flavours, chervil, marjoram, chives and tarragon are just a few of October's selection. Try making a savoury panacotta with the addition of herbs eg. chives, parsley, basil, tarragon and coriander all work well, accompany the panacotta with slices of apple and figs or try prawns, smoked salmon or cured meats eg. prosciutto, smoked venison etc. A selection of mixed herbs from the garden make a nice quiche or tart. Herbs are usually associated with savoury dishes but they can be used to create yummy aromatic desserts as well. Infuse a creme brulee with thyme or rosemary, or try my recipe for Lavender and Heather Honey Ice-Cream. To add flavour to caster sugar place a few sprigs of rosemary or Lavender, the sugar can be used to flavour various cakes, biscuits, sorbets, meringues, and pavlovas.
Also good this month: green, purple and white asparagus, globe artichokes,beetroot, celery, corn, cucumbers, water chestnuts, and Asian greens. *Prepare a simple stir-fry with Asian greensand water chestnuts. *Asparagus is always delicious when simply steamed and drizzled with a little olive oil or melted butter or serve with a classic hollandaise. *Beetroot makes great chips or include it with a selection of roasted vegetables, roasted and pureed beetroot makes eye catching pasta and risotto or try this months recipe for Cheesy Beetroot Pizza.
Berries, stone fruits, mangoes, figs, rough leaf pineapples and honey dew melons are just some of the many fruits the month has to offer.
Also Good: Honey dew and water melon, valencia oranges, rough leaf pineapple, papaya, loquats, rambutan, lychee, bananasand pink and yellow grapefruit are all good.
Early lamband kidseason is in its early months, so prices will be high. *Young lamb meat is tender and is best served pink. Roasted legs of lamb are always satisfying and leftovers make many excellent dishes. Why not try one of our many lamb recipes including Moroccan Roast Leg of Lamb and with the leftovers prepare a Thai Lamb Salad or an African Bobottie. *Australia is the world's largest exporter of goat, with most of it going to the Caribbean, Taiwan and America. Unfortunately it is not commonly found in butchers but is only available from specialist. Kid is a specialty in many popular Australian restaurants, favoured by chefs for its succulent flavour. The meat is high in protein and low in cholesterol and fat. Goat meat is excellent when cooked on the barbecue, giving the meat a smoky flavour and leaving it tender and moist. Try this months recipe for Barbecued Tandoori Leg of Goat (of course use kid in season).
Vealshould be good in October but the Australian market is limited. Wrap veal escallops with parma ham encasing a slice of mozzarella and a sage leave, pan fry in a little olive oil and serve with pasta in tomato sauce or with sauteed spinach and new potatoes.
This month brings plenty of seafood including crustaceans, scallops, reef fish,and john dory. *Scallops are good teamed up with strong flavoured meats such as confit duck or black pudding.
Crustaceans: Moreton Bay bugs, spanner crabs andyabbies are all good. I like to buy my crab and lobsters live from my fishmonger as you can control the quality of the meat, as there is nothing worse then overcooked rubbery lobster. When purchasing live crustaceans check that they are lively, and that all claws, and legs are intact. Lobsters are well suited to the barbecue, quick cooking over a moderate- high heat ensures the flavour and texture
Atlantic salmon, king george, whiting, snapper, John and Mirror Dory. *John Dory is best cooked simply in olive oil pan fried or grilled. *Wrap seasoned salmonfillets in foil or parchment paper with a little garlic, a few fresh herbs and a little verjuice sprinkled over the top and cook in a moderate low oven for 6-8 minutes (according to their thickness) and serve. *Reef fish including coral troutandred emperorare delicious steamed or deep fried. *Also in seasonareschool and tiger prawns. Add tiger prawns to a spicy tomato sauce or try Chinese Stuffed Prawns or wrap in bacon and grill.
Goats milk is plentiful from now until March, this means lots of fresh chevre cheese. Goats cheesecomes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from fromage blanc, ashed logs, creamy camberet, to firm rind cheeses. Goats cheese makes a great addition to a cheese platter or serve it simply on slices of baguette drizzled with olive oil. Soft goats cheese makes a delicious addition to potato gnocchi.