Now that we're firmly in the warm breath of summer, berries are at their best, tropical fruits have never been more stickily sweet, and stonefruit is truly coming into its own.
What's more, seasonal fruit becomes even more affordable and plentiful, spilling from roadside stalls and fruit shops, so it's a great time to try some new recipes in celebration of the abundance of our New Zealand summer.
For a tropical taste sensation, try this fruit tart made with a simple butter pastry that lines the tart tin, baked blind, and then spread generously with frangipane and piled with pineapple. As plums, peaches and nectarines come into season these can be used as equally delicious substitutes for the pineapple.
It doesn't get better than the quintessential English dessert, summer pudding, to honour the berry season. Thin, sliced white bread may not sound inviting but once it is left to soak in the flavours of all the beautiful berries, you will be amazed at how it is transformed. One large pudding can be made for dramatic effect, or consider making cute individual ones in teacups or small glasses. Line the dishes with the bread then pile in the syrup-soaked fruit and top with more bread before weighing down to allow the pudding to compress and settle into its colourful layers. It needs to be chilled overnight or longer, but the result is so delicious and pretty that it's well worth the thinking ahead.
Frozen treats, cooling yoghurts and silky, creamy desserts are perfect for this time of year. Making brightly coloured or pastel-shaded jellies always delights children and adults alike. A treat my mother used to make involved chilling a tin of evaporated milk until nearly frozen then whisking in fresh lime juice and zest. This inspired me to create a layered dessert, served chilled in glasses, which combines that gem of stone fruits, cherries, with sweet tropical mangoes
After more than six years in this fabulous role, I am leaving Viva to spend more time with my young family and to focus on my own food business. I have loved sharing my recipes and ideas with Viva's enthusiastic readers. Thank you all for your feedback and enjoyment of my recipes - each week I have been so honoured to think I could be a part of your kitchen creations. The new Viva recipe editor will be announced in the next few weeks.
Rosewater is available at Indian and Asian stores. Many supermarkets now stock it, as do some chemists. Used in small amounts, rosewater adds a delicate floral taste to recipes and can also be added to your bath when relaxation is called for.