Well, its July and its supposed to be Summer.  Looking out the window, you could debate that!  June was the wettest June in the UK since rainfall records began in 1910!  It wasn’t only wet, it was cold and dull.  We’re now in the first week of July and the situation hasn’t really changed.  I walked into work this morning amidst a drizzle that actually seemed to get underneath my umbrella!  I arrived at work with wet feet and frizzy hair…not a good look.

Technically July should be sunny and warm…in an ideal world.  Just not in my British world!  What I do love about July is the abundance of beautiful seasonal fruit and veg that our country has to offer.  Even if our skies aren’t bright and colourful, our food sure is.

Purple blueberries and aubergines, red cherries and raspberries, green cucumber and artichokes…our seasonal food couldn’t look more appetising.

I think aubergines are probably my favourite vegetable.  I absolutely adore them.  As soon as I see aubergine on a menu, I immediately order it.  I love the look of them, I love the taste of them and I love how versatile they are and how much you can do with them.

Although they’re usually associated with warmer, more exotic lands, aubergines are now widely cultivated in Britain.  They are the basis of many a classic dish, be it moussaka, ratatouille, baba ganoush and my favourite all time dish… Parmigiana di Melanzane. (I will post a step-by-step recipe of this very soon)

Aubergines are a good source of fibre and folic acid. When you’re choosing aubergines, look for ones that feel heavy with smooth, taut, unblemished skin and fresh-looking unwithered green stalks. In the past it was normal to salt aubergines to remove bitterness and moisture. Modern aubergines are rarely too bitter, but salting can help reduce the amount of oil aubergines absorb during cooking.

This is also the month when raspberries really come into their own.  Raspberries are my favourite of the berries.

Vividly pink and beautifully sweet, fresh raspberries are one of life’s great pleasures.  Well, for me anyway.  The overwhelming majority of raspberries sold in the UK are grown in Scotland, where I spent many a sunny afternoon fruit picking with my family when I was a child.  There is nothing better than eating a fresh raspberry, still warm from the sun.

In fact, raspberry production forms an important part of the Scottish economy, in particular the Tayside region where more than 15,000 tonnes are grown each year.

I generally prefer raspberries on their own but sometimes, when they’re on the tart side, its lovely to dust them with a little icing sugar .  I also love to make a fresh raspberry sauce, by pushing raspberries through a sieve and stirring in some sifted icing sugar.  I often drizzle this over a pavlova but it also makes a wonderful addition to vanilla ice cream, champagne, yoghurt, cocktails, chocolate mousse, chocolate torte…in fact anything chocolatey. I think raspberries go far better with chocolate than strawberries do. I always add raspberries to my rocky road as they give a burst of sweetness to contrast with the bitter dark chocolate.

When buying raspberries, they should be plump and dry, with a good shape and uniform colour. Avoid berries with their hulls intact as they will be under-ripe and tart.  Handle with care as raspberries are fragile. They are also highly perishable so remove any mushy raspberries before refrigerating and eat within a day or two. They do freeze very well.  When freezing, spread a single layer on a tray and freeze until solid before transferring to single portion freezer bags to be enjoyed over the winter.

Artichlokes (globe), Aubergines, Beetroot, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chanterelles, Courgettes, French beans, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Lamb’s Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Rocket, Samphire, Spinach, Summer truffles, Tomatoes

Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Cherries, Gooseberries, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Rhubarb, Strawberries

Crab, Cuttlefish, Lobster, Mackerel, Pollack, Scallops, Sea bass, Trout

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