One of the things I love most about summer is the food. A bountiful supply of fresh fruit and veg are so tempting, al fresco dining and homegrown (by Dad) produce are just some of the highlights. July has been positively scorching and it is the best summer we've had in this country for years and years. With the warm weather, it brings a more continental type appetite, I find. Personally much more in the mood for light meals, salads and there is a definite increase in the consumption of a variety of fresh fruit.
-Make Fruit The Star: Some Random Ideas-
I can be quite a fussy eater at times but this certainly doesn't apply when it comes to fruit and veg. Have become quite creative with fruit to get the most out of it. Here are some of the things I have been enjoying:-
* Pineapple Carpaccio, basically a posh name for pineapple cut wafer thin. Once chopped add a squeeze of lime. This looks really attractive fanned out onto a plate or served on a large platter, try adding the zest of the lime for added colour and flavour. Mango also goes really well with a squeeze of lime. It is such a simple addition but makes a big difference. Method of cutting thinly works well with many fruits such as oranges. For firmer fruits such as mango, pear, apple, papaya- you could try using a peeler to get ultra thin ribbons.
* Frozen Watermelon, so refreshing and tastes really good chilled right down. It makes the melon extra crunchy. You don't need to leave it in long, probably up to 20 mins. Have found other fruits such as slices of orange, pineapple and mango are also very nice after a wee burst in the freezer. An Italian dessert sort of thing is made from freezing grapes and dipping them in warm melted chocolate. Tried just freezing a-few grapes recently and the inside, interestingly goes sorbet-like .
* A very quick and quite light dessert can be made by briefly freezing a platter/plate of frozen berries. You make a sauce with single cream and melted white chocolate and while still hot pour on the berries. It is amazing the combination of hot and cold, the chocolate encourages the berries to release their juice. It is so easy to do. Can pep up the flavour by adding fresh vanilla to the sauce. Made it once with lemon zest and the liqueur Limoncello, making it more of an adult dessert this added some freshness.
* Sometimes fruit can go a little past its best or if you are a gardener everything is ready at once! This years strawberries have arrived on mass! Smoothies are a great way of getting you and your family their five a day. Many fruits can be used, veg too and all you need to add is a little juice. Some people also add yoghurt. Can be really creative with combinations. Think peanut butter vanilla and banana, mixed berries or a tropical fruit concoction. My most recent was made using over-ripe nectarines, strawberries, ice and some apple & elderflower juice. Ingredients such as ginger, spices, spinach etc can be added to boost the nutritional qualities of your drink and to add flavour. Smoothie mix also makes brilliant ice lollies. Just pour into moulds for deliciously fruity and nice textured lollies.
* Griddled pineapple, this is a handy one for the BBQ. It can also be done on the grill, in a pan or even an oven. A griddle pan for the pan method would be fantastic to give it that asthetic look with the grill marks. Add long pieces of cut pineapple directly onto grill or pan making sure that you turn. If you want a more carmelised flavour dip its edges into sugar. However, the natural sugars and juices existing in the pineapple does result in carmelisation naturally. A nice touch is to add a splash of Malibu and to serve it topped with toasted coconut.
* A child friendly and fun way with fruit is to skewer them into kebabs. These look great and work well with a mix of fruits. Great for kids to build their own. Also popular would be serving chopped fruits with a pot of warm melted chocolate to dip into. Can be easily given an adult quality by using a rich dark chocolate and/or adding a favoured licquer/shot of espresso to the mix (add coffee before it melts as it will seize up). It is a little indulgent but a very good sharing, ice breaker sort of thing to serve. The best fruits for this are firmer ones. Strawberries, cherries, pineapple and apple are popular choices.
* Fruit jellies, you can be extra creative by making the whole thing from scratch. It is so easy to do using either real gelatine or a veggie friendly substitute. A-few years ago, my sister and I made Mum individual jellies made with red fruits and sparkling wine which looked really impressive as the jelly was see through. Bought jelly cubes are very cheap and adding some chopped fruit into the bottom of your mould can be a tasty addition. Interesting for kids too. You must be selective as certain fruits will prevent jelly from setting, such as pineapple and kiwi fruit. Berries are brilliant set in jelly as are grapes, oranges, apple, peach, nectarine and papaya. Remember, a party treat growing up was a fizzy lime jelly with grapes in it, this was a cool green and had bubbles from lemonade captured within it. Mum mostly made it on Halloween.
* Finally, you cannot beat a simple fruit salad. Served chilled from the fridge it is a light and easy pudding. It can be enjoyed at any time of the day and you can tailor it to your likes. Fresh fruit works best and make sure that you make the surrounding juice pop with flavour. Think citrus zest and juice, garden herbs and even be inspired by your favourite cocktails contents. A fairly recent breakfast whilst sister was staying, was a blitzed berry sauce over chopped fruit.