It might well have something to do with being British, but I generally find the summer heat here in Wiesbaden and Mainz unbearable. I’m not good with sticky, sweaty weather, and the dramatic thunderstorms that break it up usually do very little to relieve the stifling humidity. On the plus side, either the sun or the rain or a combination of both seem to do absolute wonders for fruit production: there are huge piles of all kinds of plums stacked up all over town right now, not to mention beri. So without further ado, here are a few sweet and savoury recommendations for what to eat in August.
The season for mirabelles (Mirabellen) – small yellow plums with a more intense flavour than their larger purple cousins – is very short indeed, so you’d do well to grab yourself a little wooden box of them and get stuck in quick. Mirabelles can be eaten fresh or turned into booze (mostly wine or brandy), but some of the most classic recipes for using up the seasonal glut are:
★ almond and mirabelle tart (and that one’s gluten-free),
★ filet of pork with a white wine and mirabelle sauce (similar dish pictured above) or
★ a luscious mirabelle preserve.
I’ve never seen larger, plumper blackberries (Brombeeren) than the ones I picked up at the farmers’ market at the beginning of this month. The Mini Dietz somehow manages to cram handfuls of them in his little mouth, leaving streaks of purple juice running down his chin, but I’m a bigger fan of them baked with apples in crumbles or turned into jam. On my list for other blackberry treats to try out are:
★ blackberry cakes with lemon mascarpone icing (pictured top),
★ grilled fontina and blackberry basil smash sandwiches (just look at the melted cheese in those photos!) and
★ chocolate and blackberry mousse cake with vanilla ice cream and blackberry sauce.
I’ve never experimented with greengages (Renekloden); in England, as a child, I would eat them straight from the tree in our garden, and at the end of the summer my mum would make vast quantities of chutney and jams that we’d spread over just about anything we could get our hands on. But there are huge mounds of the plump, yellowy-green stone fruits on offer at the farmers’ market in August, so I’d like to have a go at:
★ set cheesecake with greengage compote,
★ greengage and Frangipani tart and
★ mackerel with warm greengage chutney.
Hands up who doesn’t love a big juicy peach (Pfirsich)? They’re so good fresh that it took me a very long time to discover that cooking, baking or simply combining them, raw, with other ingredients can be very worthwhile too. I’m longing to try:
★ grilled peaches with cardamom cream, bourbon caramel and brioche hazelnut crumb (far less complicated than it sounds),
★ a white peach gin fizz, or
★ a simple starter of peaches and cured ham with orange blossom.
p.s. if you’d like to keep some for later, how about preserving them? I love the sound of honey bourbon canned peaches.
Nectarines (Nektarinen) have a very different flesh, skin and flavour to their peach friends, yet I often use them interchangeably when baking them for a simple yet more-ish dessert (topped with a crumbly mix of butter, sugar and almonds and served with a honeyed sour cream). But with the next batch of nectarines I get my hands on, I’d like to make:
★ nectarine and pistachio crunch with vanilla custard,
★ goat’s cheese and nectarine pizza, or
★ a nectarine mojito.
p.s. If you like these recipes, you’ll find them – and plenty more! – organised by season on my Pinterest boards.