Mango - the taste of summer. Photo: Marina Oliphant
When you spot the first mangoes of the season for sale, the first thing to do is pick one up and give it a good sniff. If there's no amazing mango aroma, put it down and wait another week for the fruit to start ripening. The price of the fruit will also drop as the season gets under way.
The best way to eat a very ripe, juicy mango is to peel it with your fingers, lean over a sink and go for it. The varieties R2E2 and Kensington Pride are both consistently available in early summer. Even Victoria has a lovely mango grown on the banks of the Murray River in Mildura. Called Honey Gold, it's strongly perfumed with a deep flavour.
When berries become abundant, you know Christmas is just around the corner. Nothing beats a pavlova on the Christmas lunch table, overflowing with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and red and white currants. These two recipes are simple ways of using incredible summer fruit, without doing too much to it. The trick is to add different textures, such as meringue or jelly, and complementary ingredients such as lime sorbet and fromage frais.
MANGOES WITH PASSIONFRUIT JELLY, LIME SORBET AND SPEARMINT
375ml passionfruit juice
150ml freshly squeezed orange juice
200g white sugar
3 1/2 gelatine leaves (titanium strength), softened in cold water
8 ripe mangoes
16 spearmint sprigs
1lt lime sorbet
Combine juices, sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to pan, stir until gelatine dissolves, then pass mixture through a fine sieve. Cool slightly, pour into a container and chill for 4 hours to set.
Peel mangoes, slice cheeks off and set aside. Cut remaining flesh from the stone and crush in a bowl with a fork. Place a little mango puree in the centre of eight plates or shallow bowls and spread with a spoon. Scoop tablespoon-size pieces of jelly out of the container and place 3 pieces around each plate.
Slice each mango cheek into 4 and place around each plate. Tear mint sprigs and sprinkle over. Finish with a scoop of sorbet.
CRUSHED BERRIES, FROMAGE FRAIS AND STAR ANISE MERINGUE
2 egg whites
120g castor sugar
Pinch of salt
2 pinches ground star anise
1 vanilla bean
600g fromage frais
80g castor sugar
6 mint leaves, shredded
For the meringue
Preheat oven to 70C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and salt, and continue whisking for another 3-5 minutes until meringue is stiff and glossy.
Fold through star anise. Tip meringue onto prepared baking tray; use a palette knife to spread it out as thinly as possible, about 3 millimetres thick. Bake for 3 hours or until meringue is crisp and completely dry.
Scrape seeds out of vanilla bean, mix with fromage frais and sugar and whisk until well mixed. Place half the berries in a bowl and roughly crush with a fork. Mix mint and a few whole berries through the mashed berries, keeping some berries for garnish. Place a tablespoon of fromage frais in the centre of each plate and spread a little with the back of a spoon. Spoon berry mix onto fromage frais, garnish with whole berries on top and finish with broken meringue shards.
For more berry dessert recipes, check out our photo gallery.