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In Season For March

autumn vegetables March

With the month of March comes the dancing in of autumn, the days are cooling and the mornings are noticeably darker. It is time to welcome back stews and other autumnal treats.

Apples continue to be in season and make wonderful warm desserts or can simply be cut into quarters, sautéed in butter until softened and slightly caramelized, to serve with roast pork or with game birds such as pheasant. The classic Waldorf salad becomes one of my favourite light lunches or side dishes at this time of the year; all the ingredients required to make it of which apple is just one component, are of course in season, providing a perfect end result.

Enjoy the last of the blackberries; and spoil your family with this easy tart. Blind bake a short crust pastry case and when cooled fill with following mixture. For the filling you will need seeds from 1 vanilla pod, 250 ml Mascarpone, and 100 ml pouring cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, 40 ml Vin Santo. Whip all the ingredients together until nice and shiny. Fill the cooked and cooled pastry case with the mixture and top with blackberries. Drizzle over the top with a little blackberry jam, gently heated and thinned with a little water or Vin Santo, cooled before drizzling over the tart.

Capsicums are at their peak from summer to autumn, make the most of them while in season. I love them simply roasted then sprinkled with herbs, salt and olive oil and eaten with sourdough or ciabatta bread; wonderful served either hot or cold and goes well with lamb, chicken, or grilled beef.

Eggplant with its alluring shinny purple black skin is a wonderful carrier of flavours and as such can completely transform a dish. Dusted with flour, fried and layered with a freshly made tomato sauce, basil leaves, parmesan and buffalo mozzarella, then baked, provides an unctuous simple dish to serve either as a starter or a main meal together with some bread; I usually choose a sourdough loaf.

Tomatoes; picking them fresh from my garden, still warm from the sun, served on toasted bruschetta or sourdough, sprinkled with salt flakes and drizzled with peppery olive oil is another one of my favourite light lunches.

Super markets although convenient, I have to say don’t sell the bright flavoured tomatoes I am seeking. Instead and sadly to say, I find the tomatoes they offer to be lacklustre, hard and rather devoid of flavour. If you want great tomatoes, seek out the organic growers at your nearest farmers market, or try growing your own, it is a lot of fun and extremely rewarding.

Also in Season:

Fruit

Apples, avocado, bananas, berries, figs, grapes, lemons, limes, melon, nectarines, oranges, papaya, passion fruit, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries

Vegetables

Asian greens, beans, capsicum, celery, chillies, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, shallots, silver beet, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomatoes, zucchini

Other

Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Olives

Classical Waldorf Salad

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This is an iconic and classical recipe and one with a long pedigree. For best results use the tender stalks from the inner part of the celery

Ingredients

75 g walnuts toasted and a few extra to garnish

2 red apples

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tender celery stalks, finely sliced

1 radicchio leaves torn into bite size pieces

2 Witlof leaves separated

200 g red seedless grapes

1 cup parsley leaves, use flat leaf parsley

Mayonnaise

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp. red wine or chardonnay vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

130 ml olive oil

25 ml walnut oil

Lemon juice to taste

Makes about 200ml

Garnish

A few leaves from the heart of the celery

A few extra walnuts toasted

Method

To make the mayonnaise: place the egg yolks, vinegar and mustard in a food processor and process for a few seconds. Combine the two oils and with motor running add the oils in a thin steady stream. The mixture should come together in a nice thick emulsion. Add lemon juice, to taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Cut the apple into julienne (small strips) place in a bowl and combine with half the lemon juice. Add walnuts, celery, radicchio, witlof, grapes and parsley. Add 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and remaining lemon juice. Toss to combine and season to taste. Scatter with a few celery leaves from the heart of the celery and a few extra walnuts and serve.

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