In her monthly online column chef O Tama Carey shows you how to eat with the seasons, with casual modern dishes, inspired from her travels, meant for sharing. Read all her columns here.
By
O Tama Carey

25 Oct 2013 - 3:51 PM  UPDATED 16 Mar 2017 - 10:06 AM

Summer: Grape

We can all dream one day about being hand-fed peeled grapes, but until then delight in these savoury, sweet and surprising grape plates.

Summer: Pineapple

We're hanging onto the summer feels with our update on the pineapple fritter, upside-down cake and Piña Colada. Summer forever!

Summer: Lychee

Equally as good with ice cream as they are in an Asian curry, salads & rice paper rolls, lychees are the jewel of the summer fruit season.

Roast duck and rice paper rolls

Summer: Passionfruit

This quintessential summer fruit lives up to its passion-inducing namesake. Sweetly tart, it's a great bedfellow for all sorts of creams, sorbets and jellies - and, of course, pavlova.

Passionfruit pavlova ice-cream sandwiches

Summer: Apricot

Not an apricot chicken dish in sight. It's time for this ambrosial sweet fruit to rise above its tragic reputation.

Summer: Watermelon

A slice on its own is thirst-quenching, but barbecue it or blitz in a granita to unlock watermelon's sweet nature.

Summer: Nectarine

Nectarine versus Fuzzy Peach? Our pick is Nectarine for its delicate, tarter flavour - a perfect match with almonds, jamón and booze.

Summer: Raspberry

They are the perfect combination of sweet and tart, excellent in a vodka slushie and even better in a fool.

Spring: Cucumber

Think of cucumbers as a gateway drug spurring you to greater hunger: a burning Thai curry is surmountable with the crunch of fresh cucumber, and no array of cured meats is too much with a pile of cornichons by its side.

Winter: Pear

Pears are a versatile fruit, sweet yet with many savoury applications. When they’re at their peak, eat as is, enjoying their juiciness with hints of rose sweetness.

 

Winter: Onion

Onions are heat-inducing, inciting wildness and passion. Every good meal starts with an onion, especially when that meal begins with a cherub pickled onion in a Gibson.

Peeling back the layers.

 

Autumn: Cabbage

Many people have an aversion to cabbage brought about by years of having it served up to them as a smelly, mushy mess. This is such a shame, as this wonderful vegetable is as versatile as it is varietal, enjoyed crisp, sweet and raw, or steamed, stewed, stir-fried or fermented.


 

Autumn: Crab

Crab is considered a delicious and decadent ingredient. The sweet flesh works well in a variety of dishes, from rich soups to delicate appetisers, as well as being spectacular on its own, with perhaps a little sauce. Many shy away from the preparation, which is considered messy and time-consuming. This may be well true, but crabs are never more trouble than they're worth.


 

Autumn: Apple

As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and O Tama Carey shares a few of her favourite recipes so you can make it happen. Enjoy four varieties four ways – soft and warm for starters, crisp and fresh in a salad, caramelised in boozy ice-cream and baked in a scrumptious cake.


 

Summer: Eggplant

When you think of eggplant, you probably think of the large dark purple fruit found in greengrocers and supermarkets Australia-wide. But as O Tama Carey reveals, there's plenty more to this versatile fruit, from the small pea eggplant popular in Asian cooking, to the pale purple Italian species and long thin Japanese variety. Use them in a vegan curry, three ways in a pasta stack, and charred or deep-fried as a scrumptious summer side or starter.

This ingredient isn't exactly popular with everyone.

 

Summer: Mango

It's the tropical fruit Aussies are mad about, but mango is more than a messy-to-eat treat says O Tama Carey. Enjoyed the world over, in green and ripe form, the flesh lends itself to Asian desserts, Indian curries, chutneys and spicy salads.


 

Spring: Almonds

If you thought almonds were nuts, you've been duped by a drupe. This month, Chef and columnist O Tama Carey cooks with the kernel, makes almond milk and turns the young fruit, with its soft, fuzzy coating over a jelly-like interior, into a more-ish spicy snack.


 

Spring: Goat

While it may conjure up thoughts of winter stews and ragus, goat – like lamb – is a seasonal meat that is at its tenderest and most flavoursome during spring. Chef and columnist O Tama Carey gives the meat (and its milk) a beautifully and suitably gentle approach.   

 

 

Spring: Celery

Celery deserves to be appreciated as a culinary star, says chef and columnist O Tama Carey, who's excited by its ability to bring texture and flavour to everything from stock to sandwiches.  

 

 

Winter: Mandarin

It’s true that the mandarin makes for easy eating — but if you stop there, you’re missing out. Chef and columnist O Tama Carey shows us why the sweet, slightly tart flavours of this winter citrus fruit make it a favourite kitchen ingredient. 


 

Winter: Extra virgin olive oil

Chef and columnist O Tama Carey unleashes extra virgin olive oil from the realms dressing and drizzling, and discovers that with its peppery, nutty and mellow notes, the golden liquid makes a remarkable addition to dishes of both the sweet and savoury persuasion.


 

Autumn: Pumpkin

Chef and columnist O Tama Carey delves into the tangled world of pumpkin varieties and discovers that, when it comes to this versatile gourd, there's much more to it than pumpkin soup and jack-O-lanterns.

 

Autumn: Rhubarb

Chef and columnist O Tama Carey uncovers the unusual case of rhubarb’s dual identity. This ruby-hued plant with alluring sharpness straddles the border between vegetable and fruit, making it a delicious addition to both sweet and savoury dishes.


Summer: Tomatoes

Chef and columnist O Tama Carey muses on the history of this sun-ripened beauty, what to do with an excess supply, and her fondest food memory involving Spanish tomatoes and garlic-rubbed toast.


Spring: Lettuce

It's chef and columnist O Tama Carey's wish that we embrace the gamut of lettuce in ways we've not dreamed. Braised baby gem, just-charred cos and stir-fried iceberg are just a taste of what's possible when you take a closer look at the vegetable formerly known as "rabbit food".


Spring: Spring milk

An animal's diet has plenty to do with how her milk tastes, and the lush pastures of spring infuse raw milk with pleasant grassy notes and unique nuances unseen in the supermarket kind. O Tama Carey gets creative with her favourite recipes using this seasonal ingredient.


Winter: Potatoes

Humble? Hardly. Potatoes cooked to perfection can be the centrepiece of a meal. Wise up on the waxy and floury varieties with chef O Tama Carey, and turn your favourite spuds into crispy crochettas, rainbow pizzas and soft pillows of gnocchi.


Winter: Prawns

While you might not think of prawns or seafood as having a season, they do, and the cold waters of winter sees prawns at their best.


 

Winter: Lemons

When life gives you lemons... the possibilities are endless. Rediscover this seasonal ingredient with chef O Tama Carey, plus get your mitts on four new recipes that all hinge on this glorious golden citrus.


Autumn: Fennel

When it comes to fennel, try it raw and crunchy, grill until charred, or blend it to a fluffy puree. Its uses are plenty and its distinct aniseed-like flavour lends itself to just about any seafood or pork, says chef and columnist Tama Carey.


Autumn: Pickles

Pickling is a hobby, a project in patience, and a balancing act of flavours. It's also the domain of chef O Tama Carey, who's pickled everything from fennel fronds and Brussels sprouts, to kernels of corn and fresh almonds.


Autumn: Mushrooms

Chef and columnist Tama Carey brings fancy back to mushrooms, with her recipes for porcini butter, mushroom ragù, and garlic-chive crocchetta. Get a little more intimate with this humble veg that isn't afraid of the dark.


Autumn: Plums

There is more to plum than jams, puddings and liquors. This ingredient will bring a touch of sweetness and tartness to your savoury dishes too, as chef O Tama Carey demonstrates in these delicious recipes.


Autumn: Olives

Chef and columnist O Tama Carey writes an ode to her first true love: olives. Whether served on their own as a snack or to lift a main dish with their unique flavour, there's more to these bite-size morsels than meets the eye.


Summer: Figs

If you've ever been fortunate to pluck an impeccably ripe fig from its tree, the memory has likely stayed with you. Chef and columnist O Tama Carey talks of this plump fruit like a long lost friend – mysterious, pined after, and great with gorgonzola.


Summer: Chillies

Chilli fiend or chilli shy? There's little that scares chef and columnist O Tama Carey when it comes to scorching, sweet, sophisticated chillies. Learn of their nuances and gain a newfound appreciation for what Tama calls the "thrill of the burn".


Summer: Cherries

Chef and columnist O Tama Carey says we should act now while the cherry harvest teases us with her limited season and plump, dark, juicy flesh.


Summer: Honey

Chef, columnist and bee nerd Tama Carey insists we develop a closer, more involved relationship with liquid gold.

The inner workings of a bee hive are endlessly fascinating – a commune with a queen at its centre, whose sole purpose is to continue producing babies who then grow up to make the honey on which everyone will survive. The queen leaves the hive once to find a group of boys to mate with and, from this encounter, she will be able to produce enough eggs to last her lifetime. Apart from looking after the hive, each lady worker bee produces about 1½ teaspoons of honey throughout their life. They do this by spending summer and spring flying around collecting nectar and pollen. As they bring this back to the hive, the pollen becomes almost like a bee bread and the nectar goes in the comb. That's when the flapping beings. This helps regulate the temperature of the hive but, more importantly, dehydrates the nectar, lowering its moisture content until it becomes honey. Each little comb then gets capped so the honey is safe, ready to be eaten as food for the bees, or gently removed by us.

Summer: Garlic

Indispensable to many cuisines and never shy on flavour, garlic is no doubt an important vegetable. Here, Tama Carey burrows a little deeper into this curious and mostly beloved ingredient.


Spring: Peas

These sweet little green balls of goodness will brighten up any meal – just make sure they're super fresh.


Spring: Lamb

Australia loves lamb, and spring is when this tender meat is in season. Whether you're throwing lamb chops on the barbie or slow-cooking melt-in-the-mouth lamb shoulder, make friends with your butcher and enjoy this meat at its freshest.


Spring: Eggs

Viewed as a symbol of fertility for centuries, the humble egg is a versatile and popular ingredient that provides inspiration for basic and complex recipes alike.


Spring: Salumi

Using every last bit of a pig to make edible products – including the head, blood, bladder and trotters – honours this wonderful animal, with nothing going to waste. Welcome to the art of salumi.


Spring: Brassica flowers

"Brassica flowers are hearty vegetables with distinctively strong, pungent, spicy, peppery – sometimes bitter – characters. These are flavours I love to use," writes Tama Carey.


Spring: Blood orange

The drama of blood oranges can be used to your culinary advantage. O Tama Carey shows you how.

Vitamin C, found in citrus, is an antioxidant superhero.

17 minutes with O Tama Carey

O Tama Carey, or Tama as she’s known, is the head chef at Berta restaurant, in Sydney, where she turns out relaxed modern Italian share plates. Her food philosophy celebrates and centres on fresh, seasonal produce, her deep love of Italy, and a little of her Sri Lankan heritage thrown in for fun.


Pop by Berta restaurant in Sydney and tell chef O Tama Carey how much you enjoy reading her peas of wisdom, and check out her behind-the-stove shenanigans on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.