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In season now: what to eat during August

Henry Gass

2nd August, 2011

Tart gooseberries, tender broad beans and the best beef of the year make August a key month for foodies, says Henry Gass

It’s high summer and the peak season for fresh, local food, so make the most of it. Whether you’re heading to the local Pick-Your-Own farm or stocking up at the farmer’s market, August has plenty of treats in store for foodies. The broad beans are ready, as are artichokes, cucumbers, fennel, courgettes and local lettuce, while for pudding; a gooseberry compote or a handful of fresh cherries are easy to come by.  Game is also plentiful with wood pigeon and rabbit at their best, as is lamb and beef. From the sea come crabs, mackerel, scallops and plaice all of which are in British waters right now. With the best in farm produce available locally, August is a great month to stock up on the green stuff while getting your money’s worth for that barbeque. We asked Louise Burrough, owner of the organic Peradon Farm in Devon, to choose her pick of the produce.

Beef
Beef is at the height of its powers in Britain in August and is a good source of B vitamins, as well as other minerals such as zinc, iron, phosphorous – an important mineral in regulating cell activity – and selenium. ‘On the barbeque, a freshly made beef burger really exceptional,’ says Louise.

Courgettes
With their high water content, potassium and bevy of vitamins, the cooling effect of courgettes makes them a high summer classic and a BBQ essential. Whether baked, steamed or stewed, there’s no end of ways to serve courgettes, although they’re tough to beat as a staple of the summer salad.

Aubergine
Widely grown in the UK, the aubergine season is at its zenith in August. A good source of fibre and folic acid, its purple-black colour is the result of natural compounds called anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. While alone they don’t have much in the way of calories or fat, they do have a talent for soaking up oil during cooking, so make sure you salt the slices in a colander before cooking and keep the olive oil to a minimum.

Lamb chops
A good source of iron and B vitamins (which enhance immune and nervous system function) lamb chops can be prepared in a variety of different ways to maximise their seasonal flavour. ‘They’re delicious with mint seasoning or rosemary,’ says Louise, especially when a couple of glasses of white wine are added to the pot.

Crab
The sweet, succulent flesh of the UK’s commonest decopod is a cheap alternative to summer scallops, langoustines and lobsters and is a wonderful addition to summer salads. Packed with omega 3 fatty acids, crab is also a good source of chromium and the anti-carcinogenic selenium.

Louise Burrough’s perfect steak (serves four)
The traditional Sunday roast can feel a bit heavy at the height of summer, so swap your roast beef for a perfectly cooked organic steak. Whether you barbecue it or cook it the traditional way, served with some fresh broad beans or a summer salad, it’s what Sunday lunchtimes were made for.

Ingredients
Four large organic fillet steaks
2tbsp olive oil or butter depending on your taste
Salt and black pepper for seasoning

Method
• Allow your beef steaks to come to room temperature - usually about 20 minutes.

• Heat a griddle or frying pan over a high heat until hot, but not smoking. (If the pan is too hot, the outside will burn and if it is too cold then your steaks can get tough).

• Put a little butter or olive oil into the pan and season with black pepper. If using butter, be extra careful not to allow it to burn.

• Put the steaks in the pan – if you’ve got the temperature right, they should sizzle.

• Brown quickly all over using tongs, for one to two minutes.

• Remove from the heat and turn it down to a low to medium temperature.

• Return to the heat and cook gently until it is to your liking. We cook it on the low medium heat for about a further three to four minutes for a medium, fairly thick steak. You can test it by gently pressing down on the top of the steak with your fingertip - rare is soft to the touch, well done is firm and medium somewhere in between.

For more information and recipes, go to www.peradonorganicfarm.co.uk

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