But if you asked me what season I like for food, it would be summer all the way. It starts with asparagus, then stone fruit and berries come along, and it's wondrous. As summer progresses, exciting English fruit and veg start cropping up with abundance. And because they're English and in season, that means they're both local and cheap, and that makes them big winners for me.
Which brings me to chard. Lovely, lovely chard. Like all leafy greens, it's awesome, but weirdly you just can't seem to buy it in supermarkets over here. So when it starts rearing its lovely leafy head in farmers' markets, I start stocking up.
Here's something chardy I made the other week, and completely forgot to post, which is a shame, as it's pretty nice.
After buying a big chardy bunch at the market, I took it home and pondered what to do with it. After much culinary chin stroking, I went for chard and white bean bruschetta in the end.
It's just chard fried off with garlic, with butter bean mash on top. I like butter beans, but I find they can be a bit bland. To try and pep them up a bit, I just put in as much as lemon and olive oil as the beans could take. (Butter bean fans, send me your tips on how to do more with them, they're one of the beans I don't use so often and that feels like a bit of a shame!)
Another vegetable that screams out 'summer!' to me is sweetcorn. Its season is sadly brief, so I have to get as many cobs down my neck as I can before autumn turns up to ruin all my fun.
At the moment, I've been craving Mexican-style corn: corn slathered in mayonnaise that's been mixed with chipotle, lime juice and garlic salt, with some nooch on top.
I'm not quite sure how I arrived at this recipe, but I'm loving it right now: it's doenjang-jigae. It's a great big hotpot flavoured with dashi and Korean fermented soy bean paste, doenjang. Apparently, the original dish has seafood in it, but no. Just no. Why do that to a perfectly nice recipe? If you want a bit of a taste of the sea, use a bit of kombu and everyone's a winner.
Here's the hotpot in action (I think I based it on this recipe.)
It might look underwhelming, but it's one of those gifted dishes that requires almost no human intervention, not many ingredients but still tastes great. And yep, that's more lentils and rice there. Still not got bored of that yet. Today's rice and lentil combo: green lentils and sushi rice.
Next up, a fruit definitely not in season, but still in my kitchen. In my defence, every few days, my workplace puts out huge bowls of fruit for staff, and we all load up on our fruit. You end up walking away with loads of stuff you don't even like. I got a load of rock hard pears, and took one home for later.
Only instead of waiting for it to ripen, I had a much better idea. Make jelly.
Yeah, you read that right, jelly. It's not something I make often, as noone seems to be able to agree how much agar agar powder you need for how much liquid.
I've been thinking about veganising this saffron and pear jelly recipe (jello to you Stateside folks) by Yotam Ottolenghi for a while, and when serendipity gave me a large glass of wine and a hard pear in my fridge, I knew what I had to do.
I made up a one-half recipe using 250mls of wine and a whole pear. I forgot to add the saffron in, but it was still really, really good.
The texture wasn't exactly the same as gelatine-set jello - it was more creamy and less hard-set, but still amazing. And if you're wondering, I used one generous teaspoon of agar agar powder for the 250mls of wine and it worked pretty nicely. Result.