Friday, 1 April 2011

seasonal greetings

Summer is SO OVER. While the hotter months are all about pretty colours and big, sexy, flavours...it's time to move onto slightly more interesting fresh and earthy flavours: Autumn well and truly about upon us, and that means a whole host of beautiful new produce.

Pears

Given that they come in every shade from bright green to yellow and russet red like deciduous leaves, it seems fitting that pears are an autumn fruit.

While varieties like Packam's Triumph generally stay bright green and are good for everything from eating fresh to baking, poaching or pairing with savoury flavours (hello, blue cheese!), other varieties are more geared towards a more culinary end (Beurre Bosc, Winter Nelis), while some are best eaten fresh (Williams, Corella).

Mussels

On the seafood front, fish like red emperor, and wild barramundi come into season, as do mussels from Port Lincoln in South Australia.

While newbies might find mussels a bit intimidating, those savvy fishermen in SA have got your covered, with bags of live, vac sealed mussels, already cleaned and washed, ready for cooking. As they start to get bigger and juicier, the best way to eat mussels is to make a simple white wine and herb or tomato based broth, and once it's nearly ready, just pop in the mussels and put the lid on. In about 5-10 minutes, once most of the mussels have opened slightly, just be ready with a hunk of good bread and butter and dive right in.

Here's a simple recipe (to serve 4)

Ingredients

50g butter, diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 small clove of garlic, finely diced
1/2 cup of parsley, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
1 generous cup of white wine
1 pack (or 2kg) mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Heat half the butter in a heavy based pan to medium and fry off onions and garlic until transparent
2. Add the wine, bay leaf, thyme, pinch of salt and pepper, cover and simmer
3. Once the liquid has simmered for a few minutes, add the mussels, put the lid back on and allow to cook for 2-5 minutes.
4. As mussels start to open, remove them from the pan and reserve them in a bowl.
5. Stir in the remaining butter and season the liquid to taste and return mussels to the pan, or put them in a bowl to serve
6. Serve at the table with the chopped parsley and plenty of crusty bread

Pine mushrooms

Those little creatures that grow at the base of pine trees are popping up all over the place...and they're delicious! They have orange-coloured caps and have a nutty flavour. Be careful: If you don't know what you're looking for, be careful if you go foraging...there are some nasty imposters out there that are not so friendly when eaten. Alternatively, you can always forage for them at your friendly green grocer: They're delicious when simply pan fried with butter, garlic, a touch of cream and some parsley.

1 comments:

Andres said...

Yum! Can't wait to try some mussels and oysters : P.

Don't think i've ever had pine mushrooms, will have to try your recommendation.

What do you think of some lightly toasted cayenne, olive oil, touch of brandy and parsley with those mushrooms?

Autumns the most delicious month, filling, savoury dishes are a requirement!

Cheers,
Andres