What's in season… September

02 August 2013
What's in season… September

James Wellock, of fresh produce supplier Wellocks, highlights which ingredients will be at their best in September, while British Larder chef Madalene Bonvini-Hamel shares some seasonal recipes

In September, we will certainly see the autumnal feel coming through in the produce available, but, as I mentioned last month, summer gems will still be at their best.

Still going strong will be all the UK berries, with Scottish golden and red raspberry in particular continuing to stun us. These will, of course, be joined by the stoned brigade. Plums will be at the forefront and the quickly flowing harvest means there will be new varieties every couple of weeks. But beware: the season is short and if we get frosts, it will be game over.

This is the main reason local orchards have suffered against foreign imports from virtually frost-free zones and supermarkets have championed these because they are large and colourful but are, quite frankly, tasteless.

There will be varieties such as Excalibur, Jubileum, Marjorie's Seedling, Opal and I think everyone's favourite, the Victoria. The main thing with all of these is that they need to be mature, but often when you see them in the supermarket they have been picked underripe to aid shelf life, and when you eat them, you do not get a 'wow'. I can assure you that one that is picked ripe will have you hooked. If the weather has been kind, there will also be a few damsons left.

Continuing the local orchard theme, we will see the start of the local apples in September, and this is a rapidly changing scene as early varieties come and go in the blink of the eye. Discovery will be followed by Early Windsor, Delbarestivale, Worcester Pearmain and then, by the end of the month, you will see the first Coxes. So why stick with Granny Smiths, which seem to be a constant offering and, quite frankly, boring? Looking outside the box or simply in the local market will yield all sorts of goodies and create some talking points.

English cobnuts have been very popular over the past couple of years and this is the month when they are here, accompanied by French fresh walnuts.
Mushroom heaven this month. You can't go wrong with Scottish girolle and chanterelle at about £15 per kg married to plentiful cheap cèpes, and graded small ones at that, and black trompette de la mort at £25-27 per kg.

The forgotten vegetables, as they seem to be called now, will all be up and running. Red meat radish - and, believe me, it really does look like raw red meat when you cut it - crapaudine (not the greatest name), which is like a cone-shaped red beetroot, and white beetroot will all add a great twist to your normal offering of red, golden and candy. Chervil and parsley root, which have become so popular, will also be starting.

Everyone's favourite, it seems, is the Jerusalem artichoke, very good for you nutritionally and not fattening, and also good for diabetes. However, it has a carbohydrate that the body cannot digest, so beware: the side effect is wind, and not of the silent variety. Although Jerusalem artichoke starts at the end of August, by the time we get into September, the price will have come down to about £2 per kg but, more importantly, the flavour will be there.

Also in September, all your favourite local stock vegetables will be available: Chantenay carrots, UK red and brown onions, swede, celeriac, kales, parsnips, and so on. More on these next month, because I think that is when they come into their own.

Chilled cucumber gazpacho

(Serves 10)

For the gazpacho
1kg large cucumbers
50g fresh tarragon, chopped
50g fresh oregano, chopped
50g fresh dill, chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
250ml full fat Greek yogurt
50g creamed horseradish
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the garnish
1 cucumber
50ml full fat Greek yogurt
Fresh oregano
10ml rapeseed oil

First prepare the gazpacho. Wash and finely slice the cucumbers, place in a large container with the rest of the ingredients and season to taste. Rest the mix in the fridge for no more than 12 hours (if left longer, it may ferment).
Blend the gazpacho in a high-speed blender and pass through a fine sieve, discarding any solids left. Adjust the season if needed and chill over ice.
For the garnish, make cucumber spaghetti. Season lightly.
To serve, pour the chilled gazpacho into chilled serving bowls and garnish with the cucumber gazpacho, dollops of yogurt, rapeseed oil and scatter over the oregano leaves. Serve immediately.
Cooks note: the gazpacho can be used as a sauce to accompany a starter of marinated mackerel or poached salmon.

Guinea fowl spiedini, creamed corn, sauté courgettes

(Serves four)
For the guinea fowl spiedini
500g guinea fowl breast, skinless, diced 3cm cubes
50g panko breadcrumbs
1tbs oregano, chopped
1tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
Zest and juice of two lemons
30g Parmesan, grated
50g unsalted butter, melted
3tbs rapeseed oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 green courgettes
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the creamed corn 6 cobs of corn, husks removed and washed
1tbs rapeseed oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1tbs unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 shallot, finely sliced
200ml chicken stock
100ml double cream

For the sauté courgettes
2 green courgettes
1tbs rapeseed oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1tbs chopped fresh parsley and oregano

First prepare the spiedini. For the breadcrumb coating, put the breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix together. Set aside.
Mix the melted butter and oil and add the garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Dip each piece of guinea fowl into the melted garlic butter, then roll in the breadcrumb mixture to coat completely, using your hands to press the breadcrumb mixture on firmly. Lay the guinea fowl pieces on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and leave to rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the courgettes lengthways into 2mm-thick slices or long ribbons using a mandolin.
Wrap each piece of breadcrumbed guinea fowl in a courgette ribbon and gently roll up. Thread about four pieces of courgette-wrapped guinea fowl onto each skewer (use metal or soaked wooden skewers).
To cook, heat a griddle pan and bar mark the skewers, then transfer to a preheated oven at 200°C and cook for 12-15 minutes until cooked all the way through. (These are ideal to be cooked on a barbecue.)
For the creamed corn, preheat the oven to 200°C. Season the corn and rub lightly with the oil and season. Wrap each one in foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes until tender. Leave to cool and then remove the kernels using a bread knife. Keep half the corn kernels for the garnish and use the rest to make the cream.
Heat a saucepan with the butter and sauté the garlic and shallots until it starts to colour. Add the corn kernels and chicken stock, cook for 5 minutes, add the cream and bring back to the boil for a further 2 minutes. Blend until smooth and pass the purée through a fine sieve.
For the sautéd courgettes, wash and cut the courgettes into 2cm even-size pieces. Heat a non-stick frying pan with the oil, sauté the courgettes with seasoning until golden brown for about 2-3 minutes, add the corn to the pan to reheat and add the herbs.
To serve, spoon the warm purée on to the warm serving plates, arrange the sauté courgettes and roasted corn, place the cooked skewers on top and serve.

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