August sees an influx of seasonal, locally grown produce. After the heatwave we've been experiencing in the UK recently, an abundance of fruit and vegetables have flourished. Adding seasonal products onto your menus means customers can enjoy fresh, nutritious flavours in their prime.
Crisp corn on the cob
Thriving in warm conditions, corn on the cob are ripe in mid-summer onwards, and need to be consumed fairly quickly, before their flavour is lost.
A popular BBQ staple during the summer, this crisp, sweet vegetable can be enjoyed in many different ways. Read below on how to keep them fresh and tasty, while bringing out their best flavour.
How to store them
Once picked from the crop, the distinct sweet taste of corn begins to turn to starch almost immediately. To preserve its quality and taste as much as possible, parboil the corn in its husks for around a minute (this slows down the sugar turning to starch), then refrigerate or freeze.
Keep the husks on! It prevents the corn from drying out, until you need to use it (unless they're going in the freezer).
Use them within a week of purchase - it's best to cook them sooner rather than later, before their flavour and moisture disappears.
Bite-sized, crispy, flavoursome 'riblets' of corn, seasoned with herbs and spices - the perfect BBQ side dish, or appetiser on a restaurant menu.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Simply take a corn cob, and using a sharp knife, cut vertically down the middle of the cob, so it is cut in half. Then, cut each half again so you have four quarters.
Drizzle with olive oil, then season with your desired herbs and spices. We love the sound of paprika and garlic powder, for a deliciously smoky flavour, but feel free to add whatever other flavours you love. Mix with your hands to make sure they are fully covered.
Line a tray with baking paper and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
Mexican corn salsa
Remove the kernels from the cob, after cooking in your desired way.
Add to a bowl with some diced, chargrilled red and orange peppers, spring onions, tomatoes and avocado.
Squeeze the juice of one lime and tear over some coriander.
Mix and serve as a delicious side dish to main meals.
Corn and cheddar fritters
Sift 225g of self-raising flour into a large bowl, with two teaspoons of smoked paprika. Make a well in the centre and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together three eggs, and 250ml of milk. Gradually whisk this mixture into the dry ingredients until it becomes smooth.
Remove the husks from three corn cobs and remove the kernels by slicing down it, vertically.
Add to the batter, along with 150g strong, grated cheddar, three finely chopped spring onions, and a handful of chopped basil leaves.
In a frying pan, heat a teaspoon of oil over a medium-low heat. Spoon in two tablespoons of the batter (for one fritter) in batches, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until golden.
Serve alongside some grilled vine tomatoes, smoked salmon, a handful of spinach, a sprinkling of basil, and a dollop of hummus.
A cherry good summer
A highlight of the British summer, cherries feature in puddings, desserts, drinks and salads galore, and not to forget being enjoyed on their own.
After the incredibly hot weather we have had in the UK this year, cherries that are grown in the British countryside have had an immense growth spurt. The heat wave provided perfect growing conditions for the fruit, resulting in a juicy, plump and perfectly ripe pick.
How to preserve them
Strong cherries to preserve their freshness, quality and taste, is an important factor that is often overlooked.
Hold off washing until you eat them - cherries absorb a lot of water when they are rinsed, which can have an impact on the taste when you go to eat them. Only wash them once you are about to use them.
Keep them cool! - cherries lose their quality rapidly at room temperature, so they need to be stored in the fridge almost immediately after purchase. Also, make sure you allow them to breathe, as storing them tightly sealed means moisture will accumulate and spoil them much quicker.
If you want to store them for a longer period of time, pop them in the freezer. Cherries can be stored pitted or with the stone in, in an airtight bag or container - fantastic if you plan on using them for baking or cooking.
Jams, crumbles, cakes, pies and ice creams - cherries are a versatile fruit that work in almost any form. Add them into drinks too, or try them in savoury recipes to serve your guests this summer season.
Looking for something different to serve your guests as an appetiser? Try these luxuriously creamy bruschettas.
Pre-heat the grill to its highest setting.
Taking one ciabatta loaf, cut into 12 slices and lay on a baking tray.
Brush each side of bread with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, then grill for two minutes. Turn over and grill for a further two minutes.
In the meantime, pit the cherries and slice them in half.
Remove the bread from the grill and set aside once done.
Take 100g of ricotta cheese and spread an even layer over each of the bread slices.
Arrange a few cherries on each bruschetta slice, and top with some prosciutto.
Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Cherry barbecue sauce
Ever seasoned your meat using cherries? Use this barbecue sauce recipe to slather over your meat this summer.
Chop one, medium sized, brown onion, then add to a saucepan with two tablespoons of butter.
Sauté until tender, then add two cloves of minced garlic, and cook for a further minute.
Next, stir in:
- Two cups of fresh, pitted, and coarsely chopped cherries
- One cup of ketchup
- Two cups of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of cider vinegar
- One tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- Two tablespoons of ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
On a medium-low heat, cook for around 20 minutes, until all of the ingredients have combined, the sauce has thickened, and the cherries are tender.
Once ready, brush over chicken or ribs for a delicious marinade. If you prefer yours a bit spicier, add some chilli flakes or chopped jalapenos into the mix.
Baked cherry cheesecake
Round off a warm summer's evening with this cherry cheesecake - a combination of sweet, sharp, creamy and crunchy - in one delicious mouthful.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Crush 12 digestive biscuits in a bowl, until they are at your desired cheesecake base consistency. Add a few more biscuits if you prefer a chunkier base.
To the crushed biscuits, add 50g of melted butter, and 50g of caster sugar. Mix together and press onto the base and sides of a greased spring form tin.
Chill in the fridge for about an hour, until the biscuit base firms up.
In the meantime, add 300g of light, soft cheese, two eggs, and 50g of caster sugar to a bowl.
Blend using a hand mixer, until smooth, then pour over the biscuit base.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the topping is set.
Once done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Top with homemade cherry pie filing (or use a tinned option - it still tastes great!)
Scatter over some pitted, chopped, fresh cherries, then chill again once fully cooked, until it's ready to serve.
Also in season:
Pak choi - a leafy, green vegetable, common in Asian cuisine. With a crisp, mild flavour that somewhat resembles a mix between cabbage and spinach, it's a great addition to stir-fries, soups, steamed with fish or griddled.
Spring onion - quick and easy to grow, spring onion add a fantastic, subtle onion flavour to salads, stir-fries and soups.
Parsley - a popular herb used in many dishes, parsley flourishes during the summer months, and adds a fresh flavour to pastas, fish dishes and salads.