We buy up big in December. We anticipate it so much we save for it all year. From extra groceries to huge boxes of fruit to bags of ice, we lay it on.
Unlike most of the rest of the world, we are spoilt for choice in our purchases at Christmas. We are not restrained by winter. No wonder there is such huge variety in our celebratory feasting – whether it’s turkey with all the trimmings or seafood and salads, there is no better time of the year for the breadth and range of seasonal produce.
This is the peak time of the year for mangoes, strawberries and cherries, and in the vegetable world, now is your last chance to get decent asparagus, broad beans and spring garlic. December means new season peas, raspberries, corn, tomatoes, rambutans and lychees and, just in time for Christmas, the first pick of white grapes. Eat well. Continue reading In Season – December
Those of you who follow the In Season posts regularly will know that there are certain ‘cross-over’ times of the year that blend the end of one season with the beginning of the next. November, with burgeoning displays of spring greens and the first kiss of summer fruits is one such time.
With good prices on leafy salad vegetables and asian greens, you can also get good prices on beetroot, new season peas and locally grown spring or bulb garlic. New-season mangoes is coming down in price next to perfect spring strawberries and the first stone fruit of the season giving you many ways to celebrate the warming weather. What follows is a list of fruit, vegetables and seafood that represents outstanding value for money. Quite simply, there’s a lot of it around at this time of year.
Likewise, if you grow vegetables in a garden of your own, these are the sorts of produce that should be thriving right about now. If you are in colder climates in the south of the country, some items will take another couple of weeks to reach your markets, so look out for them. Continue reading In Season – November
A box of perfectly fresh, tender and sweetly just-picked broccolini arrived on my doorstep earlier last week courtesy of the terrific people at Perfection Fresh and I immediately went into overdrive. I was inspired by the sensational produce and wanted to get to work straightaway to make the very best of this beautiful baby green vegetable.
I was swamped by choices. I could have used them in asian style stir fries, in a health-giving green smoothie, even as a souffle. But then my stomach gurgled and helped me realise that I should perhaps have some breakfast before setting to work.
This is what I came up with.
Continue reading In Season – Broccolini with Hollandaise Sauce
Once upon a time I did a weekly seasonal update highlighting a fruit or vegetable that represented outstanding value for money and the very best of local produce. Rather than do this every week, I’m hoping to start on a once a month project. What follows is a list of fruit, vegetables, even seafood and types of meat that represents outstanding value for money. Quite simply, there’s a lot of it around at this time of year.
Likewise, if you attempt to grow vegetables in a garden of your own, these are the sorts of produce that should be thriving right about now. If you are in colder climates in the south of the country, some items will take another couple of weeks to reach your markets, so look out for them.
If you are looking for suitable recipes for some of these items, type in the ingredient in the search box to the right of this post. Up will come all the recipes for that ingredient, as well as any items that have been featured in Best Buys. (Ignore them, unless you want to compare prices.) Continue reading In Season – September
If you needed any proof about the seasonality of tomatoes, you only had to go to the markets this week: From punnets of cherry tomatoes to wholesale boxes, there were specials galore. Having bought roma tomatoes for just $1.50 a kilo I came home and found a flyer in my letterbox for a local business. The deals were all for bottling and preserving equipment, entreating me to have a go at making my own passata.
Yes folks, it’s tomato time.
When the Spanish went looking for gold in the New World, they couldn’t have envisaged that the riches they would find could perhaps be a little more edible than they expected, but the plants they bought back from Inca farmers have revolutionised our lives. From the same plant family as eggplant, potatoes and chillies (all of them native to Mexico and South America), tomatoes came back to Spain where they were ignored for a century or so until, the story goes, an enterprising Italian mama threw a couple of over-ripe tomatoes into a meat sauce one night.
Continue reading In Season – Oven-dried Tomatoes
While we wait for bananas to slowly reach us, other crops from Queensland are recovering well after the battering the state took in January. Pineapples, sweet, small and beautifully perfumed, were a mere $2.00 last week, while fat bunches of new-season coriander is also half the price it was a month ago.
It was inevitable I would throw both ingredients into the next curry I made.
Said to originate in the mediterranean, mentioned in the Old Testament and used in ancient Egypt, coriander is associated with cuisines as diverse as Thailand, Vietnam, India, Morocco and Mexico. It is both a herb and a spice. Related to the parsley and celery family, coriander can be both leaf, root and seed, which is why recipes invariably will ask for the specific part of the plant. Any recipe you find for cilantro refers to the coriander leaf only.
Continue reading In Season – Yellow Curry with Pineapple and Coriander
It’s hard to believe but the blueberry, one of the most popular of all fruits in this country, was barely heard of a generation ago. A native of both North and South America, commercial cultivation began here in the early 1970s. They are grown from mid-north Queensland down to Tasmania and these days you can buy blueberries for ten months of the year. The new season is starting now, with Queensland-grown blueberries now available, with the peak season in December to February as the harvest from northern New South Wales comes to the shops.
Related to azaleas and rhododendrons, blueberries are in the same family as cranberries and their less-well known cousins ligonberries and bilberries, both of which are grown extensively in Europe. They are an antioxidant super-food and a great source of vitamins A and C. Blueberries go with strawberries, kiwifruit, maple syrup, vanilla, nuts, especially almonds, cream, cream cheese and mascarpone, ice cream, sesame seed, camembert and brie, yoghurt and milk, white wine, especially dessert wine or sparkling wine, ricotta and orange juice.
Continue reading In Season – Blueberry Frangipane Tart
Broad beans together with lamb and asparagus form the Spring trilogy for many food lovers, but there are just as many who remain unconvinced of their delicate flavour or who think they are too tricky to prepare.
I can only suggest you try them – just the once.
Broad beans are in season from now until the beginning of December and will come down in price over the next six weeks. Encased in fat pale green pods, they are a mystery wrapped in an enigma – all but the very smallest beans require double shelling, that is, they need to be removed from their furry pods, then the waxy grey shell around each bean needs to be removed after they are cooked. It can be a time-consuming business, especially if you want to eat broad beans warm as a side dish.
Continue reading In Season – Lemony Broad Bean and Haloumi Bruschetta
There are some dishes so special and so symbolic that they are enjoyed just once a year. Christmas dinner. A birthday cake. Mother’s Day breakfast in bed.
In my house, this meal is one of the handful of special-circumstances-once-a-year meals. New season asparagus with the simplest of butter sauces. Eaten at table with the good china. With my fingers.
Asparagus is like that.
Continue reading In Season – Asparagus with Buerre Blanc
One of the oldest cultivated vegetables anywhere in the world, kale is a member of the Brassica family that includes cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. It grows best in icy and frosty conditions, often at times of the year when very little else grows. For this reason alone it was one of the staple foods of medieval europe and to this day is found in european cuisines ranging from Ireland to Scandinavia to Italy to Portugal.
Kale is very similar to cabbage leaves but does not form a flowering head. It’s the leaves that provide interest. Rich in beta-carotenes, Vitamin K, Vitamin C and calcium, it works best in braises, soups and stews. Continue reading In Season – Kale and Bean Soup