Peas, yellow plums, sea bass

Friday 10th February 2006 00:00

Fresh produce
There are some peas and broad beans coming through from Morocco already, and supply will soon switch to Spain. We are also seeing the first Jersey Royals grown under covers. Purple sprouting broccoli is also in full swing and will be good until May, when the plants flower and go to seed.

Yellow plums are currently very good from South Africa, as are kiwis from Italy. There are also baby kiwis available. The first strawberries from Spain are suffering from "white shoulder", which affects the fruit when daytime and nighttime temperatures are very different during the growing period.

Source: Chef's Connection, 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com

Meat
Partridge and pheasant are now finished but there is still fresh guinea fowl, rabbit and pigeon. Snipe and woodcock are also still available.

The price of liver remains fairly high; and beware that there will be increased demand on prime cuts because of Valentine's Day.

Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallenwholesale.co.uk

Fish
South Coast fish should be fairly good this week, and although it will get windier towards the end of the week, landings shouldn't be affected. Hake, brill, monkfish, sardines and sea bass should all be available, and prices on lemon sole should ease a little, too.

There are good supplies of langoustines and mussels. There should also be more John Dory and grey mullet on the market, although there is never much at this time of year.

There will be better supplies of haddock and plaice from Iceland. Prices are expected to come down on farmed turbot, plus there should be some wild fish from Ireland.

Source: M&J Seafood 01296 333848 www.mjseafoods.com

Seasonal recipe

Seared Scottish langoustine, quails' eggs in crisp baguette, marinated wild mushrooms, foie gras hollandaise

Ingredients
(Serves four as a starter)

100g foie gras trimmings
250g unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
10ml white wine vinegar reduction (infused with tarragon, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme)
Lemon juice
Seasoning
500g wild mushrooms (select carefully at this time of year)
200ml 0.3% olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
5 sprigs thyme
12 quails' eggs
1 medium white baguette
12 large live langoustines
Cream
100ml olive oil
20ml cèpe oil
100g mixed salad leaves (shiso, tatsoi, frisée, chard)
30ml sherry vinegar
Olive oil

Method
First, pan fry the foie gras and transfer to pan with the butter. Leave on the edge of the stove to clarify.

Whisk the egg yolks and reduction over simmering water until thick. Slowly add the clarified butter until hollandaise consistency. Season, and add a little lemon juice.

Clean the wild mushrooms and pick into smaller pieces. Blanch very quickly in boiling water and drain. Warm the olive oil with the garlic clove and thyme. Add the wild mushrooms and leave on the edge of the stove (not boiling) to infuse.

Poach the quails' eggs and refresh on ice. Cut the baguette into very thin slices. Form 12 x 3cm-wide strips of the bread then wrap each quail's egg in the bread.

Separate the tails of the langoustines, remove the pipe (bowel) and blanch tails for 10 seconds in fast-boiling water. Refresh in plenty of ice. Peel the langoustines, leaving the tail fins on.

Roast the langoustine bones and make a stock. Reduce stock until very strong and add a little cream. Season. Split the cream out with 100ml of olive oil. This can be dressed around the plate.

To serve, quickly sear the langoustines, warm the quails' eggs on the bottom shelf of the grill until the bread has coloured slightly and place a little cèpe oil on each egg.

Dress the plate with some wild mushrooms, three quails' eggs and three langoustines. Dress the salad leaves with sherry vinegar and olive oil and arrange around. Finish with the foie gras hollandaise and the optional langoustine reduction.

Robert Thompson, head chef, Winteringham Fields


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