Vegan jello, Mexican sweetcorn and other summer delights
If I had to pick my favourite season, I'd probably say autumn. There's something about walking through the air with that first nip of cold in it, kicking the fallen leaves as the nights draw in - it makes me a very happy bunny indeed.
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.)
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.