Here are five summer favourites you might like to try.
Tamarind: The lemony flavour of tamarind has long been used by Asian cooks to add acidity to curries.
The tree grows in tropical and sub-tropical areas and produces clusters of pods - a little like broad bean pods. Inside are small, shiny, brown beans surrounded by fibres and an acid pulp which are, when ripe, compressed into cakes.
To use, soak walnut-sized pieces in half a cup of water for about 10 minutes.
Knead and squeeze to extract as much flavour as possible, then strain.
Tamarind puree is also available in jars and is more convenient to use.
Cwikla: A Polish horseradish and beetroot relish.
It's a breeze to make with fresh beetroot from your garden and a jar of prepared horseradish.
This spicy number is my fave with barbecued meats this year but you can tone its tang down with a little sour cream and use as a dip.
Ricotta cheese: Is similar to, but smoother than, cottage cheese.
Because of its blandness, ricotta is best combined with other flavours.
This fresh, low fat cheese is excellent in various ethnic recipes, particularly Italian.
Use in dips, stuffings, flans, spreads and cheesecakes in place of cottage or cream cheeses.
Rosemary and Thyme Proper Crisps: These moreish potato chippies are hand cooked by a team in Nelson under the guidance of ex-Chicago chef Ned Smith and his wife, Mina.
Each batch of crisps is stirred by a specific team member, drained then sprinkled with New Zealand herbs.
The cook's name is stamped on each pack so customers can see who made the crisps and when.
Delicious with dips, they also make crunchy sides to salads and mains.
Mangos: The mango originated in tropical and sub-tropical Southeast Asia where it has been growing for over 4000 years.
Most mangos in New Zealand come from Ecuador and Australia.
The fragrant flesh and exotic taste is addictive.
Mangos are ready to eat when slightly soft to the touch.
The best method of extracting the flesh is to stand the mango on one end and, with a sharp knife, cut down the centre against the flat stone inside.
I have a mango corer that makes life easier.
Mango salsa adds a taste of the tropics to most meat dishes. Or try it pureed over icecream.
A Polish horseradish and beetroot relish.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp each: White vinegar, sugar
200g jar traditional horseradish cream
Freshly ground salt and black pepper to taste
Trim the beetroot and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water, add the salt and bring to the boil. Simmer until tender, about 30-45 minutes depending on the size. Cool.
Peel beetroot and then coarsely grate into a large bowl.
Whisk the vinegar, sugar and horseradish together. Combine with the beetroot, season and mix well. Store in sterilised jars for up to 2 weeks.
Great served with grills, roasts, cheeses or as a dip. Makes 3 1/2 cups.
DINKUM ONION DIP
Sour cream could replace the ricotta - and add a few more calories.
2 Tbsp olive oil
225g onions, diced
1 tsp sugar
250g ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt and white pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
Heat the oil on low. Add the onions and sugar and cook gently until they caramelise, about 15 minutes. Cool.
Beat the ricotta, until smooth. Combine with the onion, mayo, salt and pepper. Add lemon juice to taste. Serve with crisp vegetables or potato crisps as dippers. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Best served freshly made.
1 cup diced fresh (or canned) mangos
1 each: Small red pepper (capsicum), chilli, seeded and diced
3 Tbsp each: Chopped coriander leaves and stems, mint, spring onion
3-4 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients for the salsa. Stand for up to 30 minutes before serving - no more.
Serve with grills, cold meats, tacos or pita pockets. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
TANGY TAMARIND GLAZE FOR BARBECUED CHICKEN
Marinate skinned and boned chicken breasts or thighs in olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and generous amounts of crushed garlic for at least 1 hour before cooking. Divide large breasts in two or butterfly them so they cook evenly.
3 Tbsp tamarind puree
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp grated root ginger
1/4 cup sugar
Combine the tamarind puree, stock, orange juice, root ginger, sugar and 3/4 of the butter in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup, about 25 minutes.
Cool. This can be prepared ahead and refrigerated in a covered container for 2 days.
Reheat before using, stirring in the remaining butter.
Barbecue or grill the chicken. Take about a 1/4 cup of the glaze and brush all over the chicken during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Serve the remaining glaze in a jug on the side. Makes 1 cup, enough glaze for about 6 servings.
Copyright Jan Bilton
The Marlborough Express