What's in season: August

11 July 2014
What's in season: August

Fresh produce supplier James Wellock looks forward to the Glorious 12th, while Madalene Bonvini-Hamel of the British Larder creates some mouth-watering seasonal recipes for the month ahead

August affords a wealth of delights in terms of produce and a whole range of new dishes are possible after the Glorious 12th, when the grouse season begins.
Stone fruit, that traditional accompaniment to game, is also at its best, and there are options galore. Cherries are at their peak in August and, with more growers entering the market each year, UK produce steals the show. As ever, freshness equals flavour, so search out local cherries that are firm and extra juicy.

A wide selection of plums are also in season next month, with French President slowly being replaced by local Opal. Other delicious options include the French mirabelle, also known as the mirabelle prune, which is known for being sweet and full of flavour, with a small, oval shape, smooth-textured flesh and a dark-yellow colour. As well as being excellent fresh, they are perfect in pies and can also be preserved as jams or fermented for wine or plum brandy.

It is the last month to pick up exceptional peaches, nectarines and apricots. Once we hit September, they get woolly in the flesh, so enjoy them now while they're in their pomp.

Home-grown flavour
Berry options are amazing at the moment. They should all be from this country, with blackberries in particular at their best. Look for fruit that has been picked when each pod is ready to burst - this is when they are truly sweet and packed full of juice and flavour.

In August, to add to the berries, we also have local red-, white- and blackcurrants. Like damsons, they have short seasons but freeze well. They might be present on winter menus, but then they will have been gassed and introduced to the market when needed - so why not blast-freeze them yourself when they are in season?

Broccoli takes a step forward next month, with tenderstem, purple and white all available. It's a similar trend with cauliflower, with attractive additions to the traditional white including yellow, orange, purple and the green Romanesque. Chargrilled, it is simply sensational.

In terms of new potatoes, earlies are now moving into second earlies, with the standout variety being Carroll's Heritage Potatoes' Aura. With its eye-catching half-moon shape and pale yellow flesh, this loose-skinned variety is renowned for its distinctive new potato flavour. It is definitely one to name on the menu and certainly one to look forward to.

It's often hard to get excited about carrots, but the new crop is so sweet and varied that they will be a success on any dish. With more than 20 varieties to choose from, including white, yellow, purple and good old orange, in every size from mini Chantenay to the large bunched, there's a wealth of choice, too.

Another short-term favourite in August is the English dwarf bean. It's rather like a plump, fine bean from Kenya, but much more tender and beautiful in comparison. There will also be plenty of runner beans, which need to be eaten when they are young so the flat pods are tender and sweet.

It's a short season for much of this produce, so make the most of it while it's at its best.

Pan-fried sea trout, lemon tahini yogurt, brown shrimps, red quinoa and aubergine fondue

Serves 4

For the aubergine fondue
1 aubergine, 2cm dice, skin on
1tbs rapeseed oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1tbs tomato purée
80g golden sultanas, soaked in 250ml
white chicken stock overnight
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the sea trout and quinoa 200g red quinoa
200g cooked and peeled brown shrimps
2 salad onions, finely sliced
1tbs chopped mixed herbs (parsley, coriander, chives, tarragon, chervil)
1tbs rapeseed oil
4x125g portions of sea trout, skin on, scaled and pin-boned

For the lemon tahini yogurt
150ml thick Greek yogurt
1 lemon, zest and juice
1tbs tahini paste
Sea salt

Start off by preparing the aubergine fondue. Fry the diced aubergine in batches in a deep-fat fryer that has been heated to 160°C until the aubergine is very dark golden brown, almost black, but not burnt. Once all the dice have been fried, let them drain in a colander.

Put the rapeseed oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic until they are golden brown. Season to taste. Once they have coloured, add the fried aubergine, tomato purée and soaked sultanas with the chicken stock. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and gently stew for 18 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from catching.

Once it has cooked, pulse-blend in a blender, but do not blend too long or it will lose its colour. Keep the fondue warm while preparing the rest of the dish.
While the aubergine fondue is cooking, boil the quinoa in a pan with salted water until it is cooked and then drain. Mix the drained quinoa with the brown shrimps, the sliced spring onions and the chopped herbs, and season to taste. Keep it warm.

For the lemon tahini yogurt, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl, season to taste, and keep it chilled until you are ready to serve.
To cook the sea trout, heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat with the oil. Season the fish with salt only, then place the sea trout skin-side down in the warm pan and cook for four minutes until it is golden brown and crisp. Flip the fish over and continue cooking for a further two minutes on the flesh side. Drain on kitchen paper.

To serve, spoon the warm aubergine fondue onto warm serving plates and add the quinoa and brown shrimp garnish. Place the fish on top, garnish with a spoonful of the lemon tahini yogurt and serve.

Coppa with pickled peaches and kohlrabi

Serves 10-12

For the coppa
1kg eye meat from a shoulder of pork (this prime meat is also known as the coppa joint)
1 garlic clove, peeled
24g table salt
15g whole black peppercorns
2g Prague powder number 2 (also known as cure number 2)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1tsp fennel seeds
1tsp cloves

For the pickled kohlrabi 200ml cider vinegar
200g caster sugar
Pinch of table salt
1 large kohlrabi, peeled

For the pickled peaches
4 large under-ripe peaches
350g caster sugar
250ml cider vinegar
½ tsp coriander seeds
5 cloves
2 whole star anise
1 whole cinnamon stick
¼ tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 large red chilli, sliced
¼ tsp table salt

To serve
Shiso cress
Pink peppercorns

First, prepare the coppa. Pat the meat dry using kitchen paper. To prepare the cure, use a pestle and mortar to grind the garlic, the salt and all the spices to a fairly coarse crumb. Then rub the cure into the dry meat, place in a vacuum bag and seal on hard vacuum. Refrigerate and leave to cure for 14 days, turning the coppa every second day.

On the 14th day, remove the coppa from the bag, pat dry (do not wash with water), wrap the meat in muslin cloth and tie with kitchen string. Leave the coppa for two weeks in a cool, dry and dark place, at a temperature between 10°C and 15°C.

After two weeks, the coppa is ready to be sliced and served. It will keep for a further two weeks in the fridge in a dry, airtight container, if you change the container daily and keep the meat dry.

For the pickled kohlrabi, first bring the vinegar and sugar to a gentle simmer over a medium heat. Once the liquid is simmering, boil it for two minutes, season gently with a pinch of salt, then remove it from the heat and leave to cool completely. Slice the kohlrabi thinly using a meat slicer or mandolin, then place the slices in a container or vacuum pouch along with the pickling liquid and leave it for two days before using.

For the pickled peaches, first prepare the pickling liquid. Place all the ingredients apart from the peaches in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer for two minutes. Cool completely. While the liquid is cooling, slice the peaches into wedges, discarding the stone. Place the sliced peaches in a container and pour the cooled pickling liquid over them. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight. The peaches are ready to use the following day.

To serve, slice the coppa as thinly as possible using a meat slicer. Arrange the slices on plates with a few drained pickled peach slices and a few drained pickled kohlrabi slices. Garnish with shiso cress and a small amount of crushed pink peppercorns and serve.

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